Rise to the challenge – It’s only eight things. You can do it.
Whether you’re a mom with one or many, girls or boys, toddlers or teenagers, your children are watching you. And that’s a good thing; you have a captive audience who are like sponges absorbing all they hear, touch, and see. This is your time to fill those sponges with things that will help them develop into strong, confident, and loving people. You have a profound responsibility, and you shouldn’t take it lightly. Here are eight things your children need to see their mom doing:
#1 Loving them: “Hold me, hold me,” “mama, mama” – as moms, we lead very busy lives. Our list grows as the day goes on. It’s easy for us to hear those words and think “interruption” instead of “opportunity.” Our children are growing up in a culture that moves quickly and communicates with as little interaction as possible. Our children need to know we love them. Moms have the power to show their children how to express love. Children need to learn by example. Give them your time, attention, and physical affection.
#2 Being a person, not just a mom: We get caught up in “mommyhood” and often times let that dictate our schedules and priorities. Take a minute to think back: Who were you before you were a mom? I’m sure you found time for hobbies, friends, and relaxation. I did. Before we can take care of all the ones around us, we have to take care of ourselves. Besides, your kids would love to see what you’re “really” like.
We have to keep our bodies strong spiritually, mentally, and physically. Let your children see you reading your Bible and praying so they know you are dependent on Christ. Make time for hobbies and friends. Children need to see what we like to do and who we choose to spend our time with. Let them watch you socialize outside of your “mommy environment.” They also need to see you prioritize time for rest (lose the guilt – it’s okay to sit for a minute). They’re watching…show them what a balanced diet looks like and the importance of taking care of your body.
#3 Asking for forgiveness: This is the hardest of all for anyone to do, and moms are no different. We are not perfect. We don’t do everything right. We don’t know everything. And we can’t be everywhere at one time. We have to be okay with that. Once you come to terms with it, you should know that everyone around you already knows it. Now, show them how you handle your imperfections and your mistakes. Own it. Take responsibility for your actions; don’t blame anyone else. Ask for forgiveness.
I can’t count the times I have let life get too busy or over-committed myself. Consequently, my family sees the frazzled, frustrated, impatient side of me (not a pretty side, I promise). It is in those moments that I make mistakes. I speak harshly or react too quickly. Does that ever happen to you? Tell them how sorry you are, and ask them to forgive you. A co-worker of mine, Matthew Hendley, recently asked a question that I loved. When speaking about things we could do within our homes and with our children, he said, “Why don’t we create a culture of confession?” I challenge you to create this culture within your family. Let it start with you.
#4 Being confident: I was not created by mistake or by chance, and you weren’t either. Embrace it. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Let those words fill you with strength and confidence. You are unique. Your personality, appearance, thoughts, strengths, weaknesses…These are all things that are specific to you. How many times have you spoken these or similar words to your child? Don’t forget to say them to yourself. You are like no other woman. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Keep your eyes on the One who created you. Confidence is not a bad thing. Focus on your strengths while recognizing your weaknesses and work to improve those areas.
#5 Praying for them and with them: Bedtime prayers are a great way to help your kids wind down, and it certainly creates a nice bedtime routine. But don’t let prayer be just that – an item checked off the to-do list. Say the one sentence prayers thanking God for a beautiful day or asking for His light to shine through your children while in the carpool line. Teach them to pray out loud at any time. Instruct them to praise God in the good times instead of only asking Him for help in times of struggle. Let your guard down and allow your children to see how simple our conversations can be with our Creator. You will be very surprised to see how this will transform your relationship with your children. Praying with them will create a sense of intimacy and openness, not just with God, but with you.
#6 Doing what you say you will do: I can still hear my dad saying, “Do what you say you’re going to do. Your word is the only thing you can give away and still keep.” Again, it’s in the little things. If you say you will be there, be there. If you say you will pick up their favorite snack from the grocery store, get it. Those are the obvious things. Staying true to your word also applies in the “You can’t” or “I won’t” statements. Don’t apologize for losing it and snapping at them then say you will never do it again. Can you really commit to that? Don’t tell them they can’t go to the party, and then when they get loud enough or ask too many times, change your mind and let them go. If you say it, stick to it and be consistent. They will respect you for it and remember it. I didn’t always like it when my dad stuck to it, but I certainly remember and am thankful for it today.
#7 Letting Loose: Being a mom is a HUGE responsibility. Everywhere we look, there is something to clean, pick up, or cook. We analyze every decision, punishment, and conversation. We fear if we put little Johnny in time out too long, he will need therapy for a lifetime. We say “yes,” “no,” and then “yes” again because we are filled with so much self-doubt. Come on, ladies, give the kids what they really want and really need sometimes…you letting loose. Wahoo! Get dirty, and get on their level. Run, play, bake, and let flour and sprinkles fall on the floor. Laugh, smile, and make a fool of yourself. The dishes can wait, the laundry can pile up — so what?! Be a mom!
#8 Being their biggest fan: Let it rip. Don’t be timid. Scream, shout, and let them know you are their #1 fan. If it’s a spelling bee, ballet recital, baseball game, or whatever they love, you should love it too. We don’t want to create clones of us. We want to embrace their talents and individuality. Be on the front row, smiling the biggest and clapping the loudest. Assure them that mom’s got their back.
I say all of this knowing that we are all different, and therefore, we won’t look like the moms next to us. Trust yourself and be confident knowing that God created you and gave you some amazing children. Enjoy them.