|Our first born, beautiful and beset with jaundice when she first came home.|
Twenty years ago today I became a first-time mother. This blessed role has been the hardest work and greatest joy of my life. Looking back, I can see where God has imparted wisdom throughout the years that He wants a woman like me to share with others.
Every loving mom needs encouragement along the way. Here's what God would have me share with you.
We Succeed Through God's Grace
1. He shows us what to do next. I distinctly remember that panicky feeling of, "Now what?" when we got home from the hospital with our first-born daughter. I wasn't certain at all, about so many things over the years, but as I sought wisdom, God showed me the way.
2. He dispels our doubts. Oh, how I have questioned myself over the years. I have second-guessed my decisions and wondered if I was doing the right thing. But as I have clung to God throughout the commitment to parenthood, He has always eventually given me clarity as a reward.
3. He teaches us to trust our instincts. Early on in parenthood, it is so very hard. We don't have previous experience at this so it is only natural to question ourselves. But God quickly taught me to trust myself with my child. He showed me that nobody knows that child like I do. He made ME the guardian over that child's life, not anyone else. When I suspect that something is "off" or wrong, I am typically correct.
4. He made me the best advocate for each of my children. You know that "Mama Bear" instinct we all feel? He gave that to me for a reason. He wants me to step in and advocate for my child when they need someone to fight for them. I recall a young teacher who had completely misread and mistreated my eldest in intermediate school. I actually convened a meeting with that teacher and the vice principle, introducing them to who my daughter REALLY was. Things were never the same. In fact, she ended up loving that teacher as the years went on.God Teaches Us In The Process of Parenting
5. He quickly showed me that a child is not a trophy. You are bringing a person into this world who needs the best of you. They are not a possession like the nice house or new car to show off to others. The parents around me who have treated their children as such have had many, many problems with their kids throughout time.
6. He impressed upon me that it was essential to be approachable. I created an environment that welcomed my kids' questions when others might roll their eyes or tell their child to be quiet. I was there to act as a sounding board when each of my kids needed to talk. Building that trust and creating a safe, edifying place for them to come with thoughts or problems is something I will never regret.
7. He taught me to give and expect honesty, no matter what. Kids have strong malarkey meters. They are smarter than we ever give them credit for when they are little. They can tell when we are dishonest with them. I learned to be truthful with my children and expect the same of them. This establishes ground rules for healthy relationships.
8. He reminded me to enjoy every precious moment together. When our babies are born, people tell us how fast their childhood years go. We can become so exhausted and discouraged, making the days seem relentlessly long. Yet, those years go by even faster than they say. It literally felt like the toughest years when they were little suddenly yielded to their teen years overnight. One day, I woke up and they were nearly grown.
9. He revealed to me that the little blessings are what will live in your heart forever. I can still hear the little preschooler sitting in my lap on a late summer's night, looking up at the sky, singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." I can still feel the tired, cuddling little boy, fishing his hand up my sleeve, rubbing my arm for comfort. These are the riches of motherhood that bring a smile out of nowhere. No one can ever steal that from me.
10. He proved that comparison was the quickest path to distruction. If I wanted to feel defeated or see my child feel diminished, all I had to do was compare. My husband teased me when I would compare myself to other mothers. That helped me snap out of it and see how silly I was being. My kids dissolved before my very eyes when they compared themselves to others. I made certain that comparison was NOT a welcome guest in our home.
11. Nothing exposed my selfishness and impatience like being a mom. When I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it, the needs of my children came crashing in. I quickly learned that life wasn't all about me or on my time schedule. My bad temper or irritability was on full, ugly display when motherhood pressed in.
12. Children are horrible at hiding family secrets. When we were broke, they blabbed it. If my husband and I had a disagreement, the pre-school teacher knew about it. "Dad snores." "Mom has bad breath." You name it, they revealed it... Sometimes much to our embarassment. They also knew how to bust you when you are being less-than honest. "Geez, Mom, you're driving REALLY fast!" "Dad, that's not what happened." In their little black-and-white worlds, they took seriously the honesty we teach them and called us out when we didn't live by the standard we set.
13. Life's worst trials can be a gift to our kids. Adversity has prepared our children for the real world in ways I never could have anticipated. Through the financial heartache of having a husband who suffered repeated job loss, our eldest daughter has had to provide all of her own college education. This has given her a feeling of competence and made her value that education more. Our son's hemophilia has given him a deep wisdom that he would never have any other way. Watching us cope with troubles as parents has tutored our children in the same skills.
14. Expect the unexpected. From the moment my eldest was born, I learned that life doesn't go along as planned. In this household, we certainly have learned this is true when it comes to health. You think you're just taking your baby home from the hospital to begin your new life? Jaundice will make certain you have more medical tests and a bili-blanket to mess up your baby's sleep schedule. You're flying to Florida? Expect your mother-in-law to get your toddler sick with some sort of lung crud. Hemophilia, arthritis, severe allergies, asthma, surgeries, stitches, and school emergencies have all up-ended our plans along the way. My expectations had to be left at the curbside as God took us on a journey that has turned out better than I ever could have planned.
15. You can't control everything. Probably the wisest words I ever read were from a commentary in my devotional Bible, "Happy are the adaptable." Nothing will do a number on your control-freak tendencies like raising a child. Heck, you just get them buckled into a car seat as a newborn infant and they are shooting poop all the way up their back! God taught me to laugh a lot more as I grew through parenthood. He reminded me that even when I knew I wasn't in control He still was, and His plans for all of us were good.
16. Apologize quickly and often. One thing that I always struggled with in my formative years was knowing my parents were wrong, but seeing them insist they were right at the top of their lungs. Through that God showed me the value of humbling myself enough to apologize to my child when I had blown it as a parent. When I have been wrong as a wife, I have made sure to apologize to my husband in front of my kids. Not only has this increased the harmony in our home, It set a good example for our kids.
17. Embrace the uncomfortable. Life is a series of awkward experiences. When our neighbor across the street transitioned from a male to a female, I was BEYOND grateful that we could help our kids work through something like that while they were still under our own roof. It was a privilege to show them what it looked like to love like Jesus without agreeing with everything another person does. We taught them to be good decision-makers by accepting the discomfort of letting go a little bit. And we let them learn from the consequences of making their own poor decisions.Parenthood Can Be One of Life's Greatest Privileges
18. Not everyone is blessed with the gift of becoming a mother or father. Sometimes the grass can look much greener when we see our childless friends or relatives traveling, more financially independent, or enjoying a deeper friendship in marriage. Yet, there are pieces of grace those loved ones will never enjoy because they don't have children.
19. The true test of your parenthood isn't who your child is when they are with you. It is who they are apart from you. My husband taught me this lesson he had learned from his mother. Equipping our children to become the best they can be is our solemn duty. While it can be so nervewracking and stressful, giving them wings to fly should be our constant goal.
20. Motherhood has been better than I could have ever dreamed it would be. Although there are plenty of days where it feels more like a curse than a blessing, God has filled my heart to overflowing because I had the privilege of being called "Mom." I am filled with wonder as I see the unique individuals each of them are becoming. I wouldn't trade a single minute of this adventure for anything in the world.PRAY: Lord, there are so many moments, days, weeks that test our endurance as parents. Fill us to overflowing with encouragement as we take time to remember that there are certain treasures only parenthood brings.
~ Barb Dittrich