Well, doesn’t that sound like a provoking blog title? Immediately, I am at odds. Who can say what is “good”? And who could even begin to claim being good? If I am satisfied with myself, I am in danger of pride. If I am in despair over my efforts, I am in danger of despondency. Both have their roots in unbelief, that I either shun God’s righteous standard or belittle the grace He offers. Poise is reflective, whether I consider the idea of a “good mom” with crossed arms and scowling, or with my face and shoulders pulled round and low.
And yet it is there, this deep pool of desire to achieve the title, to know that trophy has been won. Advertisers know this: you’re a good mom depending on what you feed your children, how they’re educated, and what brands they wear. Culture knows this too: you’re a good mom if you have the right number of (non-handicapped) children or if they carry the banner and road map of whatever is deemed currently important and relevant in that society.
You need to know that although your influence is profound, you are not in complete control of your children. Some of you know this: your child has hit another person, used a swear word, lied or stolen or disobeyed. It’s one thing to know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; it’s quite another to see it in action under your very own nose. And yet we’re still surprised and feel the tension between getting them to behave for the sake of our own good standing, or disavowing their poor choices…for the sake of our own good standing. Again, pride rears its ugly head.
Acknowledging our own battle with WHY we desire to have the title of Good Mom is a good start towards actually becoming one. Agreeing with God that there is none that is good, not even one, allows for some honest learning and growth in whatever fruit of the Spirit He is tending at that moment. Even when (especially when?) parenting is driving you nuts.
So take this list as a thoughtful experiment, as a provocation to consider your ways in motherhood. If you fly through check, check, check…..uh, oh. But if you sit with your hands in your head crying…..uh, oh. I would encourage you to find your strength and foundation on the Rock, not on your performance. Agree that you have failed, that you are failing, that you will fail, and then add those magnificent words BUT GOD. He delights in leading those with young. If He is your Shepherd, He will lead you every hour. If He is not your Shepherd, He will mercifully and kindly invite you to follow. Both take humility.
Here are some thoughts in the matter, of how to be a “good mom”:
* Take mommyhood seriously (but don’t take everything so seriously).
* Be real–kids are especially gifted with smelling out hypocrisy.
* Don’t burden your kids with your own happiness–telling them that they are your world or reason for living is an incredible weight.
* Be–or work to become–who you want them to be.
* Show up–be interested. Show up for their games, their art shows, their Lego creations. Care enough to look at their drawings or the mud pie in the backyard.
* Don’t rely on the report card to tell you how they did; actually look at their math, read their writing, and listen to them read.
* Be interesting–keep learning! Let them see you read, study, take classes, try new things.
* Let them in with what you’re doing. Let them stir the sauce, hammer the nail, pass out business cards, or feed the baby.
* Give them a little space: physically, emotionally, mentally.
* Make them work. The reality is that they ARE working with their hands, their minds, their hearts, all of the time. Are they working on things that matter?
* Don’t disparage their dad. Ever. If he’s a monster in jail, then let them at least see that you pity him and are concerned for his salvation.
* Relax. You don’t run the universe and you can’t control it. And yes, it’s a scary world but it’s also a beautiful one. Find your balance between letting your kids explore and keeping them safe.
I asked my kids what they thought constituted a “good mom”. This is what they said, in their own words:
* Love your kids–which may mean spanking them.
* Don’t do everything your kids ask you to do.
* Mean what you say.
* Be cheerful.
* Include kids in your chores.
* Be weird now and then.
* Don’t be sarcastic.
* Try to be well rested.
* Have a Bible time.
* Don’t say “no” all of the time.
* Go outside with the kids.
* Don’t divorce.
* Cookies are an essential part of childhood.
May you have peace in your mothering, well rooted in Christ and in HIS goodness.