Sitting at the dinner table the other night Matt made the comment “This will be your 6th Mother’s Day”. It was made in passing, but has stuck with me for some reason. And now, every day, I have a thousand questions about what being a mother means floating around in my head. Not that that is any different from before the comment, because from the day I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter I have done nothing but question myself.
What have I done with those 6 years? How have I changed in those 6 years? Am I good mom? Have I given my girls what they need? Have I given them too much? Do I make life too easy for them? Or too hard? Do I yell too much? Do I discipline them too much? Not enough? Have I shown them that they can come to me with anything? What will they be like when they are 16? Have I shown them how to be independent, strong, and confident? Have I shown them how to do that and still be a lady? How to be gentle, kind, and compassionate? Have I taught them the importance of always doing your best and being your best? Have I shown them how to forgive themselves and others? Have I shown them how to have fun? Have I shown them Jesus? Have I shown them how to have a heart for God? Am I “rubbing off” on them? Are they going to be anxious? OCD? Easily frustrated? Lacking in patience? Will they worry about pleasing others, or pleasing God? If I don’t stop myself now, I could do this all day. And those are just the general questions. Then there are the guilt questions. Do I spend enough time with them? Do I work too much? Should I be guilty because I am glad that I work instead of staying home?
I know that every mom does this same thing. Whether you stay at home or go to work. Whether you have 1 kid or 5 kids. Whether you are a single mom or a married mom. We all question ourselves. God has given us the greatest responsibility there is. The responsibility for another life. Proverbs 22:6 says “ Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” I had a great example for a mother and I am surrounded by friends who are excellent mothers. So I find myself looking at other kids and their moms. Matt and I will say, “those people have really good kids, what do they do?” But why do we compare ourselves to others? Every child is different. Every parent is different. We all have different experiences, so why should I try to make my life like someone else’s?
So, here is the epiphany I have had this week. My pastor frequently talks about how our perception of our earthly father affects our perception of our heavenly Father. Dads have a great example set for them. The Bible is full of references about God as the Father. Where is our example of a mother? And as I thought about all the mothers referenced in the Bible I realized that our example is the same as for the fathers. While God is often referred to as the Father, He has also taught us how to be a mother. Titus 2:4-5 says “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” In this passage the “older” or more mature, experienced women are told to train the younger women on how to love their children. Which brings me back to Pastor Joe, who always tells us that love is not just an emotion. Yes, the first time I looked at each of my girls I was overcome with an emotional love. An instantaneous, overwhelming, I promise I will do anything and everything for you kind of love. I looked up the greek word for love used in this passage “philoteknos” and found that it is the only time in the entire Bible that this word for love is used. Philoteknos is defined as a maternal love, a love of one’s children. I’ve definitely got that part down. But, we are told in this verse that we need to be trained how to love our children. I love my children when I’m losing my temper and yelling at them, which is not okay. I love my children when they see me speeding and question why I am sinning by breaking the law, which is not okay. I love my children when they see me stub my toe and say something I shouldn’t, which is not okay. I need to be trained by God on how to love my children.
There are many scripture references to how we should discipline our children and what we should teach them. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Proverbs 29:15-17 says “ A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” All my questions come from, what is the best way for me to do this? How should I be teaching my children? What should I be teaching? When should I be teaching it?
So this is where the epiphany comes in. God is our example of how to be an amazing mother. Not only do we have to love our children unconditionally, but we have to teach them by example. I can sit around and worry about what I’m doing every step of the way with them, or I can just make the best of every moment I am with them. I can read the Bible with my girls every night, provide discipline when they need it, teach them right from wrong. But what they really learn is what they see me do. I see it in the way Abby “disciplines” her little sister. From the way she yells at her blanket when she can’t get it to lie on the bed correctly. From the way Maddy fusses at her sister for being slow. But I also see it in the way Abby cares for Maddy when she is sick and the way that Maddy loves sing. Watching my girls is like watching myself. So if I am constantly striving to be more like Christ, then my girls will emulate that behavior as well. I don’t have to worry about every single little decision I make. It’s okay for them to see me make mistakes, as long as they see me ask for their forgiveness, as well as my heavenly Father’s forgiveness. It’s okay for them to see me get mad at their Daddy, as long as they see us forgive each other. It’s okay for them to see me get frustrated, as long as I explain to them that I shouldn’t do that, and that God is teaching me to have patience and self-control. When I make mistakes I just need to show them that I seek heavenly help not to do it again. The most important thing I can teach them is the most important thing that God has taught me. Love. Grace. Forgiveness. Compassion. There is nothing He will not forgive and there is nothing I cannot accomplish without His help. In the end, many of these decisions that I agonize over won’t matter. They won’t remember how much money the tooth fairy brought or if we took a vacation the summer they were 6 or if one time when they were 5 I yelled too loudly at them when they wouldn’t listen. They already know that I’m not perfect. But they will know who I was and Who I represented. If I can show them the love and grace that my Father God has shown me, I will have accomplished everything that I need to as their mother. So I guess you could say everything I need to know about being a mother, I learned from my Father