Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can I Get a "Do-Over" Please?

Everyone has days that they wish they could do over. For some, those days come more often than for others. Opportunity has much to do with that. Let me explain further. Someone who works a full time job and has a family is less likely to wish for "do-over" days because they have probably done everything required for that day. They have worked a full day, tended to their children, perhaps done some housework and the day is over. Occasionally, that person may tend to be a little more relaxed at work or may let the children watch television for the only couple of hours that they were together but for the most part, the working person with a family will not have too many slack days. Moving on, there's the person who is unemployed or who has several hours a day to spend as they wish. I'm not suggesting these people have no responsibilities but rather that they have a more flexible schedule. They might be more likely to relinquish their responsibilities and do something else like nap, watch TV, read a book, etc. Getting the idea yet? And then there are those who have responsibilities but have the most flexible schedule. This group of people are more likely to want for "do-over" days because they have the most opportunities to become complacent or for lack of a better word, "lazy". I do not mean to say they are lazy people but that they have more opportunities to have a lazy day. Before continuing and possibly offending, let me point out that I consider my current situation to be somewhere in the middle and often wish for "do-over" days myself. Today is one of those days and therefore is what prompted this post.   
I am ONLY talking about what I consider to be lazy days and not the times when we have said or done something we wish we could take back. That's a whole different ballgame that I do not have room for here! I spent today with my entire family at home, with the exception of a trip to the grocery store. Of course there were a few mandatory items taken care of such as a load of laundry, load of dishes to put away, meals, baths and things such as that. Still, that left sooooo many hours of the day to be productive. I was not. Instead, I watched television with my husband, played on the computer, chatted on the phone with a couple of friends, and played with my children. Before I knew it, they day was winding down and it was already time for the children to prepare for bed. I realized just how much time I had wasted in the day. But was it actually "wasted"? The idea is subjective so I'll stick with what it meant to me. After a little examination of today's activities (or lack of), I decided that it was not a complete waste. Yes, I absolutely could have been much more productive than I was and I'm not so sure God would approve of my day. His word does say in Ecclesiastes 10:18 "Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.."  OK, maybe that's a little extreme and would require many days of consistent laziness but it still points out that God does not approve of laziness. Still, I remind myself of the story of Jesus, Mary and Martha. He scolded Martha for being so busy that she could not take time to listen to Jesus and enjoy his company. Often, preachers will relate this story to our lives today, reminding us to take time to enjoy what we work for. Obviously, this could be taken out of context or to an extreme but the simple point is this. Beware of idleness and be careful to not let it keep you from your responsibilities and the work God has assigned you to accomplish. However, take the time to enjoy what He has already given you. I believe there is a middle ground where I can be motivated to work towards His ideals while taking an occasional day such as this one to enjoy the gifts He has already blessed me with. So on second thought, I think I'll pass on that "do-over".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Good Mom

Last summer, while laying in the sand watching my children play in the ocean, a friend commented on how easy my life must be. Putting it into context, she was simply making an observation about that moment and her intention was not to imply that my life in general is easy. Still, she went on to say that I was lucky to have children whom I could trust enough to not stand beside them in the water, fearing that they would disregard my instructions about their depth limit or that they may wander down the beach unattended. She also implied that to be able to enjoy myself while watching my children was something that I should be thankful for because not everyone can do that. Finally, the conversation concluded with her sarcastically noting, "Boy, aren't you a good mom; taking your children to the beach for them to enjoy the beach!"

Although I knew that she had no ill intention and that she most likely did consider me to be a decent mother, I also felt like she envied my "luck" and felt that a good mom would be doing something different at that time. I felt judged. It was very much implied that I was enjoying myself too much to have been a good mom in that moment. This idea really got my thoughts stirred up!
 
I began to question myself at that point. Would I be having so much fun if I were indeed working on being a good mother? Most people I know do not consider work to be labeled as fun or enjoyable, even if they have chosen their careers. That was not meant to be a blanket statement but instead a general observation. For decades, people have estimated a mother's worth and job description. Although it varies, a broad consensus is the job is difficult and never completely appreciated. I personally believe that to be considered a good mother, its critical that a woman do more than be present with her children. So then, what does constitute the label of being a "Good Mom"? Here's my opinion, asked for or not!

A "Good Mom" can be summed up in only one sentence. A good mother is one who instructs her children about God, protects them and responds to their needs, and teaches them the lessons of life while setting a good example in a joyful manner. Most mothers fit into this category or miss it by just one small aspect. The majority of mothers teach their children about life, some teach them about God, few set the best examples but rarely do they do all that while keeping a joyful heart. No one will be perfect enough to maintain all of this all the time...... "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 
Proverbs 31 describes the perfect wife according to God. However, there is reference to her children as well. Donna Partow writes about this woman in her book (which is great by the way), "Becoming the Woman God Wants Me To Be". She says that "Any determined, hard working woman can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. That's no great accomplishment.  A woman who is so wise she has figured out how to get the bacon to come to her and has trained her children to be servant-hearted enough to do the frying- now that's a valuable woman!" (Partow, p. 29) Thank you Donna Partow! Too often, I would doubt myself in my role as a mother when I made my children do housework for chores and yes, even let my 12 year old cook dinner occasionally! Now, when I feel guilt rising as my 7 year old is vacuuming or my 5 year old is dusting, Donna's words ring in my head and I am instantly pleased. It does in fact take discipline and determination to train a child correctly. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6  Who are we to judge others when their hard work is paying off and they are able to relax?

My conclusion is this. Although I make mistakes and will always attempt to be better, I AM a good mom; as are most of the women I know. My children are physically and emotionally nurtured. They will not be perfect either and there will always be someone who disagrees with my methods in raising them. None of that matters to God and should not matter to us. He intends for us to teach our children how to be disciples for Him and to love each other in doing so. As long as I strive to meet God's will for myself and my children, doing so in joy and love, who else can judge me?