Mothering with a mission.

The fundamental mission of motherhood now is the same as it always was: to nurture, protect, and instruct children, to create a home environment that enables them to learn and grow, to help them develop a heart for God and his purposes, and to send them out into the world prepared to live both fully and meaningfully. ~ Sally Clarkson from the Mission of Motherhood

I love that quote.  I’ve sort of made it my own personal *mothering mission statement.*

Can you tell that I’m a first-born, type-A, rule follower?  I like things like mission statements, to-do lists and goals.

Even when mothering.  Do you have a mothering mission?

For the most part it seems reasonable.  Totally doable.

Unless you actually live with small children.  Then it just seems hard.

Take these two less-than-perfect examples:

::  Last week while standing in the check-out line, I held a screaming and flailing William.  He wasn’t in pain.  He had already eaten his lunch.  He was an 18 month-old throwing a temper tantrum.  And it wasn’t just any old temper tantrum, the lady standing in front of us actually plugged her ears.  She plugged her ears!

::  Monday I went grocery shopping with Charlie and William.  The carts with two seats {and buckles} were all used.  So William went into the seat and Charlie in the actual cart.  While frantically scanning my list and tossing items into our cart I repeated the phrases: Put that down Charlie.  Avocados are fragile.  Stop kicking the bananas.  On your bottom please! at least a million times.  Nonetheless we were making progress and about ready to check out.  Until I went to grab some milk.  And watched William toss a container of soy yogurt across the store until it exploded all over the floor.

—————–

Mothering brings my weaknesses straight to the surface.

I’m impatient.  I get frustrated.  Sometimes I’m bored.  It’s hard work.  I look foolish.  I’m humbled.

And yes, I mumble to myself about fingerprints on the windows or the toys covering every square inch of the house.  Because I know that no one else is going to clean up.  And unless I do it, we will continue to have fingerprinty windows.  Which we do. Along with a centerpiece of crayons on our kitchen table.  And a mishmash of meaningful yet kid-friendly furniture.

I love being a mom.  I have a pretty good sense of humor about it too.  Um, hello – guess who just set a new *laundry personal best*?  That would be me – nine loads – washed, dried, folded and put away all in one day.

I love my children.  They make me laugh and cry, sometimes all at the same time.  They give the best hugs and kisses.  They are wonderful teachers.  They have taught me to relax.  To give into the moment and it’s simplicity.

I’m a full-time student, soaking it all in.

I’ve also learned through much trial and error that my heart as a mother doesn’t fit our society’s version of parenting.  This was confirmed by two revelations:

I’m not my child’s savior or holy spirit.

My child’s behavior, successes and failures are not a reflection on who I am…because my identity is in Christ.

That probably makes me sound like I’m full of myself, however it’s quite the opposite.  I’m also not trying to wash my hands of the responsibility of raising our children – I have a mission statement for Pete’s sake – what I’m saying is that my child’s successes and failures at life should not determine my identity.  Nor should their identity be wrapped up in those earthly things either.

So then what is my step-by-step plan for mothering?  Well, I don’t have one.  Which yes, is hard for this type-A, mission statement loving, kind of gal.

However, this much I do know: the best thing I can do as a mother is to fill myself up with the Spirit.  Then, and only then, will his grace, mercy, love and forgiveness overflow into my parenting.  After all, I’m not my child’s savior but I can be the light in their lives that brings them to Him.

This means Alex and I have made many parenting decisions that go against the grain.  Like putting Jesus at the center of our family.  Choosing a non-traditional education.  Making the decision not to over-schedule and over-burden our children.  Carefully screening what they watch and are exposed too.  {This is a huge beef with me – so many *kid* shows, movies, books, clothes, etc. are inappropriate for our young children, but our society continues to pursue them.}  And our biggest challenge?  To raise them up knowing that while they are loved and cherished, the world does not revolve around them.

Consider this;  Satan doesn’t want Christian mothers to nurture our children to love God.  He must be pleased as punch when we become so busy and over-scheduled that God is something that we just don’t have time for.  When Jesus becomes someone we will spend more time with *when things slow down.*

We will never slow down.

Here’s my crazy way of thinking…what if, as we fill our schedules – and often with *good* things like soccer, baseball, piano, therapies – God gets pushed off our busy plates?  This probably happens unknowingly – after all – this is simply a busy stage of life.  Right?

Yet what if we are busy for the sake of busy?  Because everyone else has their child taking this lesson, that class.  In the meantime we become stressed and overwhelmed while trying to fulfill our various obligations.  Because we are *supposed* to be busy. Right?

But we get tired.  Our kids, who are also tired, are still demanding our attention; possibly acting out if they don’t get it.  Testing out boundaries, causing their parents to wonder where they went wrong…

This is why I take my role as the chief scheduling officer {CSO} for our family seriously.  Don’t get me wrong, we live a busy and full life.  Henry will play baseball in the spring.  But that’s it.  And when things get too busy, its my role to pull our family back.  To circle the wagons and regroup.

In our world if our child becomes a doctor we parents puff up with pride because clearly we were extraordinary parents.  So we start them young on a rigorous schedule to *guarantee* success.

In my world I just want my children to be children.

What if we strip away all of the meaningless *extras* that our world tells us to focus on and instead focus on the *one* that is important?

I don’t know about you, but my ultimate goal as a mother has nothing to do with helping my children become a doctor.  However, I will do everything in my fiber to make sure that they know and love Jesus with all of their heart.

Because the rest will follow.  Love and compassion for others.  A love of life and all that this beautiful world has to offer.  A desire to learn.  A generous heart that is willing to share.

Maybe I’m just kidding myself and the endless lessons, sports, activities, and rigorous schooling are the answer.

But I’m placing all of my bets on Him.

————————-

Disclaimer – I don’t claim to know how to parent perfectly or have it all figured out, but I do know that we can all learn from one another.  My hope is that the Lord was able to use my thoughts {and ramblings} to speak some truth into your life as you navigate these tricky waters of parenting too.  I’d also love to hear any insight you have to share…

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12 thoughts on “Mothering with a mission.

  1. Oh my word Libby. This post is just what I needed to hear. I’ve signed Carson up for spring soccer and have been mulling baseball for a few weeks. Mostly because everyone else is doing it and I feel pressure to not leave my children out. But not busy is ao important to me. I’ve got plenty of years to be busy. I’d rather slow down and enjoy these precious, all ti fast, childhood days. Thanks for this post…I could have written it.

    On another note…please come to my house and make a picture wall like yours. That is fantastic!

  2. Oh Libby – I just love this post. While I’m more of a hope-it-all-just-falls-into-place kind of gal, rather than type A, I can so relate to so much of what you say. I struggle with the pressure to do all that society has to offer (especially with classes and therapies for Nate), but ultimately what really matters is that we teach our little guys that they were created in His image and what they do does not matter nearly as much as who they are in Christ! It’s hard, really hard. And I’m sure it will get even more challenging as our kids get older, but I thank you for reminding us what is important.

    I really hope to meet you one of these days! Maybe we should plan a family meetup in Seattle this summer!

    In Him,
    Danielle

  3. I just have to say that your photo wall is absolutely stunning. And you are right, there is no mothering plan, other than to love unconditionally that which God has blessed you with. Your boys are always with the best mother on earth because you are theirs and you always hold their well being in the forefront of your days’ plans…

  4. Wonderful post; love the quote. I shorten it by saying “make the main thing the main thing”…it’s become my motto. The main thing for preschoolers is relationship–growing close relationships with God and family; growing Godly character; developing helpful habits (obedience, self-control, cheerful helper, etc).

    Your right; it isn’t always easy–but it isn’t always hard, either. Keeping your family’s schedule under control is very helpful (not being too “busy”), as is setting up a simple daily routine.

    ]I blog about homepreschooling/homeschooling at http://www.susanlemons.wordpress.com and hope you’ll visit me there for some encouragement. I blog from a Christian perspective, and emphasize the 4R’s: Relationship, routine, readiness, and reading aloud. I have lots of helpful articles on my blog, including picture book lists, preschool unit studies, sample daily routines, ideas for art, music and etc.
    Blessings,
    Susan Lemons, Homeschooling mom of 4
    BA Degree in Child Development/former pre-K teacher
    Author, Homepreschool and Beyond

  5. Libby-

    I got a phone message yesterday from a friend in T-Town who started reading your blog on my facebook page. She said she got so absorbed in it that she totally forgot where she was until her boss reminded her that she was at WORK:)

    Love your posts and the purposeful way you and Alex are raising your boys.

  6. Thanks for the post. I am really struggling and trying each day to fully live and enjoy my kids at the young ages they are, instead of focusing on all the things I HAVE to get done or the chaos that comes with little ones. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Love it! I can so relate to the Type A-ness you related. I’m making an effort to simplify and to focus on Christ as the center of our home and basing decisions on our family mission statement. Reading a great book called Organized Simplicity. It’s really inspiring me to be intentional with everything in my home. Thanks for blogging!

    Wendy

  8. Wow Lib! Your cup runneth over! You, Alex, Henry, Charlie and William are in our prayers. We praise God for each one of you.
    Uncle Jim

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