Being a Mom today is not easy, so much to keep track of and expectations impossible to meet. After twenty years, here’s my go-to list of essentials (notice nothing about meal prep and homework help!)
- Over-communicate, hoping they secretly love it. In the absence of information, kids make up their own stories. Communication breeds security, and I want my kids to feel secure. For that reason, they get told at night what to expect the next day, told on Sunday what is coming that week, and asked their “happy and crappy” every night at dinner. I want to not only know what’s going on in their life, I want them to practice giving and receiving communication from those they love.
- Never assume the job is done. At some point, parental influence replaces parental authority, but our role never ends. Todd and I are parenting adult children and although we don’t tell them what time to go to bed anymore, we are still a voice in their lives, encouraging them to advocate for the underdog, spend money wisely, keep short accounts with those they love… We talk about insurance, job searching, housing, and love relationships. I want them to talk to us. No one cares more than we do.
- Say yes as often as possible. I want them to have boundaries, but not feel life’s limits. “Yes, you can go to that school if you find a scholarship.” “Yes, you can get that technology, when you can pay half.” “Yes, you can go out, just be home by…” Most of my “no’s” are about my convenience, but the payoff with “yes” is sharing responsibility in a desired outcome.
- Share my convictions with passion. They will develop their own ideas over time, but I don’t want to fear demonstrating what I’ve come to believe. Their whole lives people will be telling them what to think. I hope my voice and their memory of my passion is well recorded in their heads.
- Confess my weakness to the kids. I want to show them what I do when I fall or don’t feel like “enough.” I used to think putting my best foot forward was the right idea with children, but increasingly I believe teaching them how to confess sins, ask Jesus for strength, and pick ourselves up are critical skills I can pass along.
- Celebrate liberally and praise what’s important. My son performed well at a track meet last week, but I made sure he knew I was proudest of him when I noticed him congratulating others on their success. Life is hard, and kids feel it. I am hoping ice cream runs and spontaneous postponed curfews are remembered later as moments when life and relationship were rewarded and celebrated.
- Value experience over products. Activities over toys. Playing, trying, experiencing over collecting, having, buying. Watching families come together on mission trips over the years, I had the chance to witness how invaluable their shared experience was. Kids want memories over stuff, so I am working on re-directing appetites and allocating funds accordingly.
- Love their Dad. It’s easy to put the kids’ needs first. There’s just so many of them and they seem so urgent, but instead of meeting every teeny-tiny request for our attention, Todd and I set aside time every evening where we can’t be interrupted. This practice has created a rhythm of investment in each other, and breeds confidence we are ok, and they will be, too.
This Mother’s Day, thank those who have invested in you and look around at those in who you are investing. We have this crazy hard, fulfilling role we get to do and only one chance to do it. Make your own lists and share them with each other. Together, let’s love well this next generation of world changers.