It feels like you will never have peace and quiet again. The dishes are piled in the sink, the kids are hungry, you’re in desperate need of a shower, and you can’t even get a minute to urinate in quiet. There is just no time! You hear screams of, “Mommy! What are you doing?!” as a little one bangs on the bathroom door with the toy hammer his dad bought him. As you emerge from the bathroom you notice that one of your darlings has drawn a red line down the hallway walls with a permanent marker!
Being a mom is tougher than you ever imagined. Why does it seem like others float through parenting like Mary Poppins gliding in and out on her umbrella? To that I say: the only thing floating in the real world of parenthood is the delusion that we as moms can have it all. And only each family knows the reality of what happens behind those closed doors.
One day in the not so distant future, the house will be quiet, the kitchen will be spotless, you’ll have plenty of time in the shower, and you’ll be waiting by the phone hoping one of your children will call home, or even better, come for a visit. It seems like a long way off, but that day will come sooner than you think. The season of parenting little ones is a very short one in the scope of your life—in the scope of eternity. But the effects of those few short years will have generational, lifelong, and eternal consequences.
Often times all it takes to find contentment is a paradigm shift in your thinking or focus. A field trip to Children’s Hospital will leave you feeling blessed and thankful for healthy children, and a continual awareness of the end goal will renew your commitment for parenting with focus. As you peer into your little boy’s eyes remember that one day he will be a man—a man who will make decisions and choices you may completely disagree with, or not, depending on what seeds are sowed and what values are instilled.
I kept my Life’s Mission Statement on the side of my refrigerator as a reminder of my end goals: “To raise children who love and follow God. To guide, support, and encourage them to be all that God intended them to be, striving for their very best in all they do.” That was the paragraph that pertained to my child, and then I signed it, leaving it there for me to see every day. You may think it silly, but it kept me focused. Little boys turn into men, little girls turn into women—who leave. What they do when they leave will be largely determined by how they were raised.
Laugh with your children and have fun! That’s right laugh! Laugh at yourself when you do or say something stupid. Laugh at yourself when you overreact to things. Look for the humor in the day to day. Do something fun with them everyday: take a walk, eat ice cream, spit watermelon seeds, watch one of their TV shows, laugh with them. Having fun with them is just as important as correction and “teaching.” Yes, parenting is an important job but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Sleep and make sure to clock out at the end of the day. When they take a nap, you take a nap. Make sure you get your sleep every night. When it is their bedtime, you clock out from being a mom, but of course, illness is an exception. It is almost impossible to be content when you are over-tired. Once they are in their room make them stay there. Give yourself time to rest and recuperate.
Get away alone once a year if possible. When one is in the thick of battle it is hard to evaluate progress and create new strategy plans. Plan to have time away to think and re-strategize. Evaluate your life as a mom and decide to focus on what is most important. When we can measure progress made, and see tangible results, it helps us to feel content in the process of our parenting marathon. In addition to getting time away, make time for friends and hobbies on a regular basis. I once took piano lessons, I was terrible, but it gave me something I enjoyed. It gave me a break from the mundane of everyday.
Recognize that God is in control of all things and in the end your child still has free choice. In other words don’t beat yourself up for poor choices and decisions your child may make. It is hard to find contentment when you are focused on mistakes made by you or your child. Keep things in perspective and be realistic about the full scoop of each situation remembering to keep your end goal in mind. A child who throws steak across the dinner table can still turn out to be a pretty good kid. I know this to be true, my son did that. Instead make it a habit to focus on successes and victories, no matter how small.
And yes, at the end of 18 years your child may choose to walk away from God. They may choose to walk away from you. Everyone has free choice to do whatever they decide. They could end up on the side of the road with a blanket and a beer can, but at that point you’ll want to know with certainty that you did your best as a mom, that you gave it all you had. When your child packs up and walks out of your home, you will not want any regrets. There is no amount of material things that will make up for time lost with your child while they are growing up.
And you definitely do not want to be sitting next to a phone that never rings or in a quiet house without any visitors.
With that I am signing off…my phone is ringing and my house is full, even though I am done raising them, I still have the privilege of being a part of their lives. It is a true blessing beyond words. It is a blessing to proudly say I am a mom!