“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
“Pick your battles.”
“Major on the majors and minor on the minors.”
Good advice for moms? Sure, but it’s easier said than done! Sometimes we make everything into a big deal. A dirty diaper. Another load of laundry. Junior refusing to eat his peas. Sometimes we lose sight of what’s important. Well, what IS important? That’s the first question author Julie Barnhill asks in her book One Tough Mother. Here’s her words: “In the light of eternity, what do you want out of this whole mothering thing?” And here’s her answer, “I want to raise children who will want to return home as adults. (Return as in visit. Not live indefinitely.)”
So I asked myself this question and I came up with four things. Yes...four! Maybe it’s because I’m an over-achiever, or maybe I just couldn’t narrow it down to one!
1) I want my children to follow Christ.
We recently celebrated Abby’s infant dedication at Westwood. It was so affirming to hear the congregation say “we will” as they gave their agreement to help us raise our child (and children) in the ways of Christ. I do realize that ultimately my kids have to make their own choice whether they will follow Christ or not. But I will keep this desire in mind as I make decisions each day. And I will pray and pray and PRAY!
2) I want my children to have an authentic lifelong relationship with me, their father, and each other.
I wrote this with my own family dynamics in mind. I have a great relationship with my mom as an adult. She would be the first one to admit she made many mistakes as a mother. Yet the fact that all 3 of her children still adore her makes those mistakes trivial. On the other hand, I wish I had a closer relationship with my siblings and I hope to instill a lasting closeness between my children.
3) I want my children to become positive contributing members to society (unless physically or mentally unable).
I grew up with an “I want to change the world, or at least a piece of it” mentality. My husband learned a very strong work ethic from his family. I guess that’s why this is important to me. It’s not that I expect my kids to become doctors, missionaries, or president! Their career path is their choice. It’s more about the attitude. I just want them to be hardworking, compassionate, generous people, using their unique gifts and abilities in a positive way, regardless of their worldly success.
4) I want my children to be safe, healthy, and loved.
To me, these are the basic minimum requirements of the job of parenting. It isn’t my job to play with my kids all day long, but it is my job to make sure they’re safe. It isn’t my job to give my kids everything they want, but it is my responsibility to meet their basic needs. My parents struggled financially, so I didn’t have the nicest things. But I never doubted that I was loved. That’s what I want for my kids too.
Those are just MY answers. Perhaps I’ve given you some inspiration to think about the big picture. So what do YOU want out of mothering? I encourage you to write it down and share it with your husband or a friend. And then, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”
(written by Heidi Songer for the Westwood MOPS March 2011 newsletter)