I have to say, I think Mother's Day is swiftly becoming my new favorite holiday. Up until 2010, July 4th was my favorite holiday because of the fireworks, warm weather, homemade ice cream, 9pm sunsets, and fresh food from the garden. Since J came along, I have a new appreciation for Mother's Day. There is NOTHING in this world that compares to having my sweet babies wrapped up in my arms and feeling an almost overwhelming appreciation / gratefulness / awe bubble up inside of me when I'm hit for the millionth time with the realization that yes, these two amazing, beautiful, sweet, smart babies belong to us. Almost immediately followed by an overwhelming sense of urgency to do everything we possibly can to give them a safe place, a loving home, and everything they could possibly need to make good choices in life. Mother's Day is a good day for these types of reflections.
I have been reading "A Mother's Heart" by Jean Fleming for the past few weeks. Normally, I wouldn't put a book down unless necessary, but I have been pacing myself through this one because there is so much content that challenges me and makes me take a long, hard look at where my heart is in this still new role of mothering. It's not the kind of book that I would recommend to just anyone. I think it would hit a nerve with the majority of my friends who have chosen to maintain their careers in addition to taking on the role of mother and I especially think it would be offensive to my career minded friends who do not have children yet. It's exactly the kind of challenge I needed after E's arrival a few months ago. I have to confess...up to the last trimester of E's pregnancy, I had been keeping my foot in the door so to speak. I was pretty content with being a stay at home mom, but I liked being involved with community projects and I LOVED having people depending on me to do things that seemed wonderful and amazing at the time. Not taking anything away from those projects, but since E arrived, I have had TWO little persons under the age of two completely dependent on me and for me personally, there is no project in the world that has required as much creative thinking, flexibility, problem solving, budgeting, and FAITH as this new development. The challenge I have appreciated the most from this book has been the challenge to truly lay my life down for my children. Not in the sense of being a doormat and bending to their every whim or allowing them to control our household, but to always be diligent and mindful to put a good/godly example before them and to make good use of the time I have with them, lifting them up in prayer, putting the word before them, and providing an environment for them that stimulates them in good ways. The author also is quick to point out that even when parents provide the best guidance for their children in the hopes of persuading them to choose God as an adult, the choice is ultimately our children's choice to make. We cannot force them or pressure them into choosing to follow God. We are instead responsible for living our lives in such a way that they can see the power of God at work in our lives and come to believe in Him through those experiences. Sowing the seed so to speak. It has certainly given me a lot to think about and pray about and in addition to encouraging me in how I need to interact with my own children, I have seen a lot of application towards to the body of Christ as well.
I also have realized how foreign this way will seem to so many people that we love and care about. I am very blessed to be part of a family that shares the same beliefs when it comes to religion and Christianity, but my husband's family does not share these beliefs. It has not been a point of contention to date and I am hopeful that it will not become a point of contention ever, but as my brother in laws have had children of their own (before our two boys came along), it is now becoming very evident that we differ in our approach and our foundations. It's not a problem for us because we believe that each child is unique, therefore, the approach may have to differ from child to child to meet the needs of the individual. But, we also are convinced that each parent is accountable for their child. Therefore, it's not wise to involve ourselves in the parenting of our neice and nephew. We're always open to discussing things, we love them, and we will encourage them in whatever their parents instruct them to do, but we will NOT interfere in how they are being raised unless it is harmful to them in some way. So far, things have been fairly peaceable, but we saw a few moments of temptation for my oldest brother in law when he came to visit a few weeks ago of wanting to jump in and dispense parenting advice to us on how we should be raising our boys. Thankfully, he caught himself before he said too much.
I understand how hard it is to resist that temptation. I have had to stop myself SEVERAL times over the years. :)