Our 8th Anniversary was this past Tuesday. We have good friends who do swap babysitting with us from time to time. I love trading kids. The kids play so nicely together and I always enjoy having their kids around...and I also enjoy having a little break from my kiddos! So, for our anniversary we went out to dinner and left our kids...what a novel idea!
Here's a few pictures of the kiddos having fun...
Our dinner out was sooo good (see, it's all about food) and it was so nice to go out just the two of us. However, the most memorable moment for me came when we came back to pick up the children. The past few weeks have been really hard (isn't motherhood hard most all of the time?). I have been sooo tired, schooling has been hard with Noah underfoot now that he only takes one nap. I'm cranky and moody and the kids are bored with their tired Mom.
When we came backto get the kids, we sat and chatted for a while about our night out, homeschool, and J told me about what the kids did, etc. Then she said them. Those words. Encouraging words. She was talking about my kids and she said, "They're good kids". I almost started crying on the spot and I am not a cryer. It was a toss up between crying or said, "Huh? What did you say?" or "Really?" Not because I wanted a pat on the back for my wonderful children. Most of the time I know that they are not wonderful.
I love each one of them to pieces and in a Mother-sense I think they are the most wonderful children in the world because they are mine, but I question how I am doing as Mom and consequently how they are doing. In short, Motherhood is hard. It's a long day in and day out struggle. It's hard to see the end result when you are in the daily grind of "do's and don'ts" and feeding, clothing, etc.. It's easy to get discouraged.
Being a Mommy is far more than dressing your little baby in a cute outfit and filling a diaper bag. It's more than child safety and cute baby slings. It's more than having the teacher's favorite type of child who knows all the answers and everyone loves. All children aren't designed for that. Isn't that such a part of the pre-conceived notion about kids before you actually have them? "My child's going to be cute and everyone is going to like them." It doesn't take too many years into Motherhood until you realize that not everyone loves or accepts your kid(s) like you do.
Being a Mom is about constant, daily sacrifice in a world that does not trump the stay at-homers. It's about a lot of little daily, moment to moment details that shape a life, but are hard to account for on a daily basis and are hard to see the meaning of when you are in the thick of daily living.
All families are different. They have different house rules, etc. Each home is distinctly unique. All parents are individuals. Some parents are just learning Biblical parenting skills or their child is different or has special needs, or they are just up against a brick wall of not knowing what to do with their child who has an issue. Some parents seem to have it all together with absolutely no problem in sight that we can see. No child is perfect, we each know that our own kids are not perfect, we live with them! Why then, is it so hard to be accepting? Why doesn't it just come as second nature? Why am I quick to judge? Or, almost worse, why do I so often say nothing? Nothing discouraging, but nothing encouraging either. Silence can speak more than words at times.
I'm so guilty of being silent when instead I should have spoken up with kind words. Encouragement is easy, cheap, doesn't take much planning, and is so meaningful. Moms with "good" kids need it. Moms with "bad" kids need it. Moms who "have it all together" need it. Moms who are struggling need it. Moms who act like they don't need it still need it.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Proverbs 18:21
"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24
The best encouragement I find is in God's Word. Simply trusting in the Lord to bring his desired end for my children and family in spite of my shortcomings as a Mom. Not that that is an excuse to act however I want at, but it is hope for their future beyond what I can provide for them. Sometimes after failing my children I have the tendency to feel defeated, but I don't have to be. The Bible says, "And be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." After failing, I need to get back up, confess my sin, forsake it with the Lord's help, and keep on trying. It's hard to not want to give up on the long, weary days when it seems there is no end and no tangible fruit for your labors.
The next best thing is encouragement from someone else. It's one of the main reasons why we are in a local church, to edify and to build each other up. I want to find creative ways to express it....to pray to be an encourager and have encouragement on my mind each day and not just my needs.
I am so thankful for my friend's sweet, simple encouraging words. They meant more to me than a night of babysitting, a special gift, or a fancy party. Three words. That was all.
Lord, help me to not be silent, but to instead open my mouth with good and sweet words. Please help me to find at least one person whom I can encourage and guide my tongue to say the words that you know others need to hear.
(please excuse this long, rambling post. I hope it made some sense. It's getting late. I think I need to get to bed.)