As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve spent some time reflecting on my experience as a mother. I always dreamed of what it would be like, and had ideals I thought I should live up to. In so many ways I’ve learned and I’ve grown and I’ve matured in my role as a mother, and I wish I’d had the benefit of such wisdom as a younger mother. So to you, younger mother, I share some things to encourage your heart.

1) Our babies need us, but our teens need us more. There is a tendency to think that our babies need us the most because they are helpless little creatures. But ultimately, as our children grow into the teen years, they need our attention, our guidance, and our protection even more.

2) We spend too much time comparing ourselves to other mothers who look like they have it all put together, when in reality, we all struggle, just at different times and in different ways. We also spend too much time comparing ourselves to the unrealistic expectations we had of all motherhood would be. Nobody can live up to such ideals, and to try to do so only lends to guilt and condemnation, which is not from God.

3) We mothers weren’t given an instruction book when we brought our children home, but we do have God’s book and that holds the best answers. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten down on my knees and just asked for wisdom, discernment, or a simple but heartfelt “Help…” from God who lavishly bestows it upon His children. God already knows the plans he has for you and each of your children, and what God plans, no man can stop. Rest in that.

4) Slow down. It doesn’t all need to get done today. Spending those quality moments with our children are what create the best memories. They won’t remember the dust bunnies or the messy cabinets, but they will remember the impromptu games of hide and seek, and snuggles over reading bedtime stories.

5) You’ll be a better mother when you take care of yourself better. You can’t give what you don’t have, so if you continuously pour out to your children without filling back up, you’ll end up burned out, angry and resentful. Take time for you and your children will benefit from it.

6) Order and routine are good, the expectation of perfection is not. So often we put such pressure on ourselves as mothers to be perfect, and our children pick up on that. They internalize the angst and anxiety, and it makes it difficult for them to learn without grace for mistakes. Strive for order and routine, but let go of the idea that there is such a thing as being a perfect mother or child.

7) Extend grace to yourself and to your children in the learning. We all need a learning curve as we figure out new ages and stages. By extending grace to yourself and to your children when mistakes are made, they learn how to extend grace and forgiveness to themselves and others. That is such a valuable life lesson that is the antidote for shame and guilt.

8) Turn off the electronics and engage. In this technology-driven society, I see infants being mesmerized by screens, and young children entertaining themselves with electronics rather than learning to be creative and imaginative and engaged with others. They learn it first and foremost from us. Take the time to engage with them now, or you’ll be sad when they are older and don’t want to engage then.

9) Having less is really more. The more things we and our children have, the more we have to manage, and the more stress we feel. Realize that giving your children everything may actually not be a good thing. Then they don’t value anything (including a hard work ethic), and grow up expecting everything to be handed to them. Cardboard boxes offer hours of creative play that the latest video games will never imitate.

10) Pray more and worry less. We want to make everything right, everything easier for our children than it was for us. We want to insulate them from pain and hurt. But worrying won’t do any of that. It just teaches our children to worry. Instead of worrying, pray more. Remember, God cares more about our children than we do. Let’s entrust them into his care!

11) Document more. We all think we are going to remember which child said the cutest things, or the little habits that endeared us to them, or the ages they met milestones. But our memories fade. Take the time to document those things in the moment. You and your children will thank you later!

12) Make dinnertime family time. As a culture, we’ve gotten away from consistent meal times together as a family. Make that a priority. It’s one of the best ways to stay connected with your child’s heart and to engage in teachable moments. And do yourself a favor from the get go: make meal times electronic-free times. Don’t answer the phone, don’t return texts, don’t sit on social media. Enjoy the presence of those around your table while they are still around your table…time goes quickly and before you know it, you’ll long for those good ole days.

13) Appreciate the normal. We know to expect hard days, and every once in a while we get to delight in the extra special days. But there is something to be said about enjoying and appreciating the plain old normal days, with the routine tasks before they are no longer a part of our days because the children have grown and moved out on their own and a new normal begins. Don’t wait for the special days to celebrate. Celebrate the normal…like rainy afternoons and family movie night on the couch.

14) Take time for spontaneity. Structure and routine are good. Normalcy helps create security. But also take time to be spontaneous. Have breakfast for dinner. Pack up lunch and take it to the park. Stop and swing on the way home from running errands. Life is short and it’s way too serious. Make time for the simple spontaneous pleasures in life. You’ll never regret it.

15) Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Laughter is like good medicine for the soul. So much of life is serious and planned and necessary. But don’t take everything so seriously. Instead of coming down on yourself for a burnt meal, or the children for spilling the orange juice, laugh. It helps dissipate the stress and will leave you feeling better for it.

16) Celebrate what you do well. As mothers, we won’t be and can’t be good at everything. It’s easy to focus on the list of times where we missed the mark or don’t feel like we measure up. But God has gifted each of us with certain giftings that are unique to us. Celebrate those so that when you don’t have a home run with that diorama or the homemade Thanksgiving feast costume, you can still appreciate the success from the impact you make in your child’s life in other areas.

17) Recognize the voice you are listening to. It’s easy to fall prey to the lying whispers of the enemy who will stalk you at every turn to tell you that you’re not good enough, aren’t wise enough, aren’t strong enough, not capable enough, etc. Be alert and sober to whose voice you are listening to. When that enemy starts to whisper to you all the things you aren’t, remind him who God says you are and the fact that Jesus thought you were worth dying for.

18) Recognize your gifts for what they are. Whether you are in the midst of toddler tantrums or teen angst and rebellion, recognize that your children were gifts to you from God because He felt you were the best one to teach them and raise them in His ways. You are an extension of His love, mercy, and grace to them and for them.

19) Be your child’s parent now, their friend when they are grown. Too many parents are eager to be their child’s friend but that’s to the child’s detriment when they are growing up. They need someone who loves them to teach them, to guide them, to discipline them, and to hold them responsible. When you do that for them while they are growing up, they will respect you more and want to be your friend as an adult.

20) Each child is unique in their needs, temperament, learning style, response to discipline, and preferences. You know them best and love them most. Even when it feels like you are failing, they are blessed to have you. Remember that no one can or will love your kids the way you do. Your tight hugs, the way you kiss their pain away, and how you fight fiercely to protect them can be replaced by no one!

 

I believe motherhood is both the hardest and the most rewarding job there is. It comes with enough expectation and stress, don’t add more to it. Take each day with your precious children as a gift, and each day hand them back over to God, for they are His anyway.

I would love to hear what other lessons you have learned through your motherhood journey in the comments below.

May I pray for you?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Motherhood is hard, but it is also an amazing opportunity to be a conduit of your mercy, grace, forgiveness and love in the life of another. I pray that each day you will fill us anew with your wisdom, discernment and strength. I pray that you will shepherd us as we shepherd the blessed children you have placed in our care. Guide us and lead us as we teach, instruct, and discipline. May our children always know that they are loved by us, and more importantly, by you. Instill in them a desire to know you more and follow you all the days of their lives. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

Hope Prevails Book and Hope Prevails Bible Study {hope for overcoming depression}

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Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the new companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand: how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.

 

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