Thursday, April 8, 2010

Throwing my "what a 'good mom' does" list out the window!

One week after Jon and I were married, I had a crisis. A "good wife" crisis. We had gotten back from our honeymoon and were trying to get settled into our new condo. With little more than a few basic staples in the frig, I tried to scrape lunch together. As we sat on the patio and ate, I started to cry. When Jon asked me what was wrong, I told him that this wasn't the kind of meal a good wife makes. "Uhhh...well what kind of meals do 'good wives' make, Sara?" I sniffled and said, "Homemade soup with cheese on top!" Now who set that standard?!?

Well, that was almost 9 years ago, and I've long left behind that "what a good wife does" list, which had left me feeling guilt-ridden and inadequate at the time.

Now I'm just starting to get over my "what a good mom does" list—a.k.a. the "what a good Christian mom does" list—which includes such things as:

* you play on the floor with your kids all day, every day—and love it

* you implement formal training sessions to teach them such things as not to fuss when coming in the house after playing outside or to sit still through church

* you are utterly consistent with discipline [and if you're doing a good job, your kids never whine or argue]

* your children never misbehave in public [and probably never misbehave at home either, because your training has been so thorough]

* you enjoy your kids so much that you never need a break

* you instinctively know the best way to train or discipline in every situation that comes up with your kids

* you are excited and enthusiastic about Play Doh, finger painting, and glue & glitter crafts

* you never, ever get frustrated or lose your cool or raise your voice

* life is so hunky-dory you want to have 19 kids!

This mental list has tormented me and stolen my joy... left me with guilt and shame... until I could see nothing good in myself.

But yesterday during my QT, this is what the Lord spoke to my heart:

What are all these burdens you are carrying around, Sara? "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Who said you have to do that list of things in order to be a 'good mom'?

Then this morning, He further reminded me there is no "one right way" of training your kids! It doesn't matter what others are doing to train their kids. God is calling us to follow His lead. And...

Commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. [Deuteronomy 6:6-7]

And GOD'S WAY is:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. [Ephesians 6:4]

And I found some relief... because we are doing this with our kids! [Read: I realized I'm not utterly failing at motherhood!] And it tells me that if my son has a bad attitude, it's not all my fault, but that he lives in the same stinkin' flesh that I do!

So, thank you, Lord for giving me peace today. I have had a sweet morning with my boys!


Irritable Mother said...

Oh, Sara, I am soooooo proud of you.
Throw it out the window and never chase after it!
Spent too much time trying to be that 'good mom' and hating myself for failing at it.
So thankful that the grace of God was BIG ENOUGH to save me from my crazy expectations!

Sara K. said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Karen! It's good to know that I'm not the only one who has walked this road!

Chris said...

Sara - I could have written that post myself about 12 years ago, when struggling with training my first son! I beat my self up about "not doing things right" consistently because my son still disobeyed! I kept thinking that if I handle everything correctly, he will always behave correctly.

I've come a long way, now with 3 boys, but it's been a process and sometimes I still struggle too. But my failures have taught me just as much as my successes. You're doing a great job!

Sara K. said...

Chris, thank you so much for sharing that! I think one of the ways God is ministering to my heart is through other moms sharing their similar struggles.

You summed up my struggle in your statement, "I kept thinking that if I handle everything correctly, he will always behave correctly." It's good to hear from moms like you who have worked through such erroneous expectations.

I'm also learning that kids' temperaments figure into the mix too -- so some might be a little more prone to whining & complaining -- not that that makes it OK -- but it suggests that it's not all my fault, AND it gives me vision for training self-control in him!

Thanks for writing! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Sara!! I love your honesty and transparency -- and gift for writing!!! I often find myself taking my kids' behavior out on myself and then immediately fall into "Kim mode" (aka: rely on yourself to 'fix' the issue at hand without calling out to God!) .... this is definitely an area that I'm working hard to correct (with God!).

I think you're right; while each child does need to obey and respect his/her parents' instruction, the way in which the parent gets to the child's heart may look different from family to family and (gasp!), even child to child in the same family. I'm working to not compare one child to the other in my family as they are NOT the same child, AND God has DIFFERENT plans for each of them!

I read in Proverbs 25:28 and plan to have this be the next verse my children work to memorize as I continue to get to their heart:
"Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit."

Love you, Sara!!!!

Kim :)