Letters to a Young Mother #1
March 9, 2020
You’re a Great Mom
Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, “Let the Children Come to Me . . .”
Micah 6:8 – “ . . . act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before your God.”
Snippet from my Journal entry
from March 17, 1989 –
“I am not a good Mom, but I try . . .”
That’s what I felt like three decades ago. My children ranged from two to eight, and my life was crashing in on me. My dad and mom were in the midst of divorce and finances were tight. Since housekeeping has never been my forte, one can assume the laundry, cooking and cleaning was overwhelming. Fortunately, I didn’t work outside the home, even though it meant we ate a lot of ground beef and cereal.
Looking back, I wonder why I thought I wasn’t a good mom, and I wonder how many others young moms feel the same. How many women think because the house isn’t perfect and they yell more than they’d like, they don’t have what it takes to be a parent? Just in case you’re wondering, let me give you the short list of my parenting faux pas:
- Each of my younger two children fell on their heads while climbing when I was nearby at least once.
- When my husband worked afternoons, we always ate macaroni or Ramen noodles.
- We had “fend for yourself” day at least once a week. That means everyone gets whatever they want to eat out of the refrigerator (leftovers, fresh ramen noodles, cereal, etc.), everyone prepares their own food, and we gather at the table or in front of the television to eat.
- None of my children were in sports or dance and seldom could we afford music lessons.
- I refused to let my kids be in more than one extra-curricular activity at a time outside of church because I wanted to have a life too.
- My kids were tardy for school at least once every nine weeks because I slept in.
- When the oldest was thirteen the girls informed me they would start packing their own lunch because they knew it was hard for me to get out of bed.
- I once forgot my teenager at a football game. When she called to ask me to pick her up, I asked where she was. (and that wasn’t the first time I forgot to go pick someone up)
So, now that you’ve read my honest list, which is not by any means exhaustive, some of you are thinking, “She was a terrible mother,” while the rest of you are counting how many of those things you’ve done or are breathing a sigh of relief that you aren’t alone.
Now I realize I set the bar according to what other mothers did or my expectations of the perfect mother rather than looking to scripture. The Bible doesn’t give a lot of instruction on raising children. Proverbs 22 tells us to train them in the way they should go, and Deuteronomy 4 instructed the Israelites to make sure their children knew about all the things God had done for them through the years. Of course there is the highly controversial Proverbs 13 promoting corporal punishment when necessary, and Exodus has more than one mandate for older children who talk back or are disrespectful.
However, thirty years later, I’d like to tell young Lynne,
“Your greatest act of motherhood was following
Matthew 19:14 and Micah 6:8.
Nothing could be better than bringing
your children to Jesus
and walking humbly before God yourself.”
When we, as mothers, consistently put our children in a place where they can “come to Jesus,” we give them the best gift possible. I tried to put as many Jesus loving adults into their lives as I could. Between Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and those ladies who became extra “grandmas” to my girls, they had many opportunities to see Jesus.
Additionally, as much as I humanly could, I tried to be “just.” Often that meant I had to control my temper or see their side of the situation. As I grew and learned to “love mercy,” I was able to put that into play even as I disciplined them. And I hope my outward attempts at living out my faith in a real way influenced them and helped them to see how to “walk humbly before God.”
I didn’t get a lot right raising my kids, but looking back, I know that putting them into Jesus’ hands and trusting Him to take care of them everything needed. My girls are all grown up now. Two of them have children of their own, and the third takes care of at least one hundred pre-teens nine months out of every year. All three have a relationship with Christ and live out their faith.
So, if you’re parenting tactics worry you, don’t sweat it. If you teach your children to love Jesus, you are getting more right than wrong, and Christ will take care of the rest!