Perhaps the fact that I’ve watched 9 episodes of Nanny 911 on Netflix in the last couple days is why this very important thing has been on my mind: parenting. Obviously, this is something that is very shortly going to be a part of my life, so, I should probably decide how I’m going to go about it.
Admittedly, I have not read any parenting books. I have nothing against them, and I would very much like to read one or two, especially ones that concern focusing on marriage and God. But, I have always wanted to be a mom, and parenting has been something that has been on my radar basically my whole life. From the many, many parents that have spoken about their experiences in the past, I know for certain that I cannot possibly have a handle on what to expect before I become a mom. I know I will make mistakes, I know I will do things I never thought I’d do.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t aspire to be the best kind of parent I can be. Being a good mama is incredibly important to me, and to anyone who is curious, here is what it means to me.
Love. Grace and love are the most powerful forces on the planet. And love covers a multitude of errors. Like Jesus, I want to show my children that I love them enough to lay down my life for them. I want them to understand what grace really means through my actions. The amazing thing is that I have already established this kind of relationship with my husband, which is where parenting starts. Yesterday was, for whatever reason, a bad day for me. But regardless of my actions, Jimmy showed forgiveness, grace, and love that was undeserved, and made me better for it. As a mom, I hope to prove that love conquers everything.
Patience. Oh boy, this is hard one for me. I can be patient, but like most people, I have a threshold. My limits will undoubtedly be tested when it comes to kids. But I know that kids deserve patience and diligence as much as they deserve to be hugged and fed. It is essential to showing them that life is something they can handle, even if things are hard. I’ve learned recently that hard does not equal bad, and the only way for them to know that is for me to show them myself. As a mom, I hope to demonstrate patience so my children will be strong.
Communication. This is something I have always valued. My marriage has benefited greatly because honesty flows constantly. Sometimes, it’s hard, because there are times that saying just what you feel can create negativity. However, we have always been able to get past it because we keep talking until we both feel truly understood. Kids need that, and it will definitely be more difficult to get used to because it will require more tact and patience than it does when dealing with adults. But, though I will probably make many mistakes, I have confidence that my husband and I will be able to establish it in our home. As a mom, I hope to teach my children that they can always be honest with their parents.
God and Marriage before kids. I have never been shy about God being first in my life. And I don’t want to be shy about marriage being second. But putting my marriage before my children is really not what it sounds. It’s not saying that if my child has the flu, I should worry more that my husband relaxes after a bad day at work. But, if I feel like my child should be cuddled and soothed and my husband feels they should be in a time out, it is important for me to settle the difference with my husband first, not argumentatively. This will show my children how people should work together and tackle the obstacles as a team, even if it means sometimes I feel like a bad mom. As a mom, I hope to show my children the importance of a healthy relationship with God and with your spouse.
Praise. I think these go hand in hand. One thing that really stuck with me was one mom’s experience using the sentence: I love to watch you… fill in the blank. I think we sometimes, as people in general, forget the power of telling others how proud they make us. With children, it is often true that they want nothing more than to please their parents. How incredible is it that we have the ability to show them that the good things they do are worth doing just because it makes us happy? As a mom, I hope to make my children proud of themselves by having pride in them first.
Accountability. Or, perhaps, responsibility. This includes things like chores and keeping rules, but it also includes not giving excuses simply because of age. It is important to me that I don’t say things like, “Well, she’s too little to know any better,” or , “Boys will be boys.” Though these things may be true, I believe that it is a parent’s job to correct behavior so that their child eventually does know better. And I believe children want to prove themselves as much as they want you to tell them they’ve grown a few inches. As a mom, I hope to validate my children by believing they can be responsible.
Be proactive, not reactive. When it comes to discipline, I want to avoid being reactive. Reacting in anger doesn’t seem to work all that much in life. When I was working, I saw many people react to problems, maybe even mistakes I had made, and let me tell you, the last person who got their way with me was the one who blew up. Why would it be different with kids, especially my own? Instead, I hope to take the time to be calm, assertive and loving when doling out consequences. As a mom, I hope I can be a reasonable judge more often than not.
Protection. Ah, the mama-bear effect. There are a lot of horror stories out there about parents who just weren’t protective enough, and their kids paid the price. Or, maybe they were too protective. In either case, what I really want is to be smart. I want my children to be safe in mama’s arms, but at the same time, have the freedom they need. And Lord have mercy on any soul who thinks they can trample on my child. Being politically correct, or just not arrested, will not be important if I have to do what I have to do. As a mom, I hope to be a pillar of strength.
Following Jesus. The most important thing I can ever do as a parent is teach my child the greatest truth there is: Jesus saves our eternal souls. Of course, that is largely God’s responsibility; He is the one who has to reveal Himself, but I will be the messenger for Him. God’s grace has brought me in union with a man who is as passionate for Him as I am, and that man will be the father to these kids. I know this is extremely powerful in helping kids accept Jesus as their savior. As a mom, I hope to be a teacher of the truth, an advocate for the bible, and an example of a follower of Christ.
I know that this is a lot to expect of myself, and I could have something completely different to write about parenting a year from now. In fact, I’m certain I will. But, I hope that none of this seems foolish to my future self, because I truly feel God has brought me a child in the most perfect time in my life. I have a lot of growing to do, as does my family, but God’s plan has always been, ultimately, better than I could have thought.
One last thing: As a mom, I hope to always have a sense of adventure. Because, boy, that sure seems to help!