It seems these days that society does it’s best to redefine mothers. I see moms who act not only like their children’s “friend,” but even worse, as a super friend. A friend with money and power to make things happen that like aged friends never could.
And then there is the Genie Mom; those moms that have convinced themselves that if they give their kids everything they want, and everything they haven’t yet realized they want, their kids will surely like them; or worse yet, they believe this will show the world that they are a good mom.
Unfortunately there is also the Mom-in-name only mother; the mom who views her children as just another part of her life to be managed. I’ve heard some of these moms on the phone over the years, arguing or debating with their children; quizzing them about where they are or telling them what they need to do. I remember in particular one occasion of a mom going back and forth with her teen about her having nothing to wear for school “did you look in the washer? Just find something in there and throw it in the dryer and get some breakfast. It will be ready when you get done eating” The phone call ended with “why do I have to solve everything for you…” It was hard for me to see that co-worker the same after that incident. I guess I am just old fashioned. Being those kind of moms are easy. Being a great mom requires sacrifice and knowledge that you are not always going to be liked. But also knowing you did what was necessary to equip your children to be successful adults. And if you chose the hard road I can almost guarantee you will one day be honored by those same children.
I liked growing up. My Mom was always around when I wasn’t in school. Home was a safe place; a place you could be yourself. And my mom was the bedrock for my family. She never hesitated to sacrifice, putting her family first. Mom always made it to school and sports activities. In fact she encouraged me in every way to reach my dreams, not so much with words, but with her actions. I don’t ever remember her questioning whether I could accomplish something I decided to try.
But it was not a free reign either. We all had our chores and expectations. We knew how to behave in public and at home. It was easier to just do the right thing because we knew we could also count on being disciplined if we didn’t. Mom always made it clear that family came first. There was no tolerance for demeaning siblings. In fact most of the spankings I received were from teasing my little brother until a incident erupted. I’m thankful for that. My two brothers and sisters are closer then just about any other adult siblings I know.
My Mom seemed to understand the fine line between love and discipline and we are all better for it. The more I work with children who come from broken and abusive backgrounds the more I realize the the blessing of a Godly mother.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 says “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” The writer, who by the way was probably the wealthiest man the world has ever known, understood that having one handful of material wealth with peace, was better than having a double portion but always chasing after more and never being satisfied. It is ironic that in my lifetime we have moved from one hand, to two; the single wage family to the two wage family. In fact it is now almost expected that both parents should work. This has been a result of chasing after the wind; bigger houses, more exotic vacations, two new cars (more if you have teens) a tv in every room and on and on.
My two children have an incredible mom. Like my mom she was the bedrock of our family during those child rearing years. She always managed to put family first. At times it was a chore to get her to actually shop for herself when she needed it. There have been times over the years when we have talked about how to best handle a situation with our children but generally Cheryl knew what to do, even if it was hard.
For dads it is easier. We tend to see black and white, right and wrong. We fill the role of the heavy disciplinarian. But about 95% of child rearing is not black and white. It is that nebulous gray area that can leave you questioning yourself. It is this area where moms can shine. I know my wife has long had the philosophy that “I’m their mom, not their friend.” In other words, there are times, done right, when your kids are not going to like you. But of course doing the right thing is not always the easy thing.
There surely are things my wife and I would do differently if we had it to do again but one thing we have never regretted is our decision early on that we would live on only my salary, a paltry $1,100 a month before taxes when we started out. If Cheryl worked while the kids were in school we decided we would put that income toward other non-essential things. It has served us well over the years and served our kids even better.
While there are no perfect mothers there are lots of good mothers and a few great ones. And there is always time to change. You might say I’m biased, but you will never convince me that my Mom and my wife are anything but great and I’m eternally thankful for the both of them. Happy Mothers Day.
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