[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
On the 7th of October my first born turned 13. He is a mature young man for his age and for the longest time he has wanted to reach this milestone age.
We are of course thankful to the Father for keeping him and protecting him all these years. Many thoughts came through my mind as I remembered some of the precious memories of life with our son. He is entering a new phase in his life as he is now a teenager.
We as parents have entered a new phase as well. As I marvel at his physical changes and witness the way he is growing up to be a young man I cannot help but look at my motherhood journey with all my children. It is true what they say that “Each child is different”. My children have both strengths and weaknesses.
Each child is gifted differently and it has been a joy and a challenge discovering what they are gifted in so I can best guide them in their purpose. Whenever any one of my kids is going to celebrate a birthday I am always that more thankful for their lives as I remember circumstances surrounding their births. God has blessed us with three children and all of them were born through a caesarean section following a complication during labour.
I am called many names by many people depending on the type of relationship I have with them. In all of the names that I am called however, I must admit that I cherish hearing that precious word “Mama.” Like many women I have had my own unique motherhood experience.
I say unique because it is assumed that all women will be mothers and that all women should want to have children. In reality it is not so, however, as each woman has her own unique experience approaching this lifechanging role. In the olden days it was expected for young women to be married and to have children.
You were asked many questions if you were not pregnant in the first year of marriage…”What are you waiting for? When are you going to have kids? You are not getting any younger. You must give that man babies.”
Nobody stops to think of the possibility that the woman might want kids but is struggling to fall pregnant. Nobody takes the time to really try to understand a couple’s reality of not having kids. She might have fallen pregnant and lost the baby/babies through a miscarriage/s. The constant questioning about pregnancy opens her up to that door in her heart that she prefers to close because opening it is “just too painful”.
Recently I read an article where the writer outlines the different types of women and how much society judges each. She lists the types of women and their motherhood journey and their decision to be or not to be a mother.
How many times have you been with family and you were asked a question about becoming a mother that you wish you were not asked. The question is always directed at a woman who is of childbearing age but who does not have a child. What we fail to realise is that by asking that question we might be touching a very sore point in that woman.
There is still another couple who might not want kids because they are concentrating on building their relationship. There are many challenges that a couple are faced with in the first year of marriage and many adjustments that they have to make as they merge their lives together.
There are a growing number of couples who choose not to have children. That decision is made after they look at the state of the world and ask: “Why would we want to bring a child when there is so much evil in the world. The world is already struggling to maintain and feed the billions of people on planet Earth. Why would we want to add to that number?”
The Bible tells us that children are blessings from the Lord and indeed they are. It does not say that they are perfect however, as we quickly learn and they also do not have perfect parents. We can feel guilty as parents especially as mothers of not being there for our children. We wonder “What kind of person will Susan be?”, “I am messing up this child. I am such a bad mom. I am failing in this parenting thing.” If you have ever felt like that you are not alone.
In my 13-year journey with motherhood I have learnt some valuable lessons which continue to help me to make better choices in my mothering. Here is a list of my dos and don’ts of mothering:
- Every child is different. They understand love differently and they respond to discipline differently. Learn about your child so you can best communicate love and administer discipline.
- Do tell your child that you love her. Every child deserves to hear that they are loved and to know that they are loved. You can provide finances and provide a comfortable life for your children but if you are constantly absent from their life, especially during moments that are important to them, that child will feel rejection and read your lack of involvement as you not loving or caring for them.
- There are times when they will need your undivided attention — give it. Our children are given to us for a little while and they go off to build their own lives. The time that they get to spend with us is truly a gift. Let us make the moments that they spend with us special and not make them feel that they are a burden.
- Be careful what you say to your children as they believe everything that their father or mother says about them. If you constantly call them stupid, slowly they will believe it and not rise above that self- defeating belief. Shower your children with words of praise and affirmation.
I recently listened to a story about a woman who was dyslexic and thought that she was not bright. When growing up her mother told her many times that she takes after her as she was also dyslexic and slow. Fortunately she married a man who replaced those labels and called her smart, able, and worthy of being heard.
More and more as she listened to her husband praising her, she came out of her shell and started to try new things.
When her husband said she could start a business and run it successfully she doubted but decided to try anyway. Today she has a successful business.
Words that we repeatedly say to our kids have a potential to leave a lasting mark. This woman was fortunate that God blessed her with such an encouraging husband.
Listen to the words you say to your children. What are they? What if they became exactly what you call them? The Bible says in Proverbs: “Listen to the teachings of your mother”. What are you teaching them?
Lessons are both caught and taught. Our children catch many lessons that we continue to teach them through our nonverbal actions. They are like sponges soaking up everything we are saying and doing.
At their formative years they want to be just like their parents. They see dad as their hero. A little girl looks up to her mother and wants to try on her clothes and put on her make-up. A mother is very important to a child’s life.
When watching most interviews you will often hear the interviewee say “I want to make my mother proud of me”; “I behaved well and didn’t do what others were doing because I did not want to let my mother down. She believed in me”
Do your children know that you believe in them? Have you ever said those life giving words? “I believe in you. You are a smart child. You can do it”.
No matter what your motherhood journey and the experiences that you have had to this point, know that you can be better. You and I are literally on a lifetime journey with our children and this journey will take us to many destinations.
There will be times when we feel completely lost and will not know which direction to take. In all that will happen, let us remember to lean on the One who knows the way, who is continually guiding us in a still small voice, saying: “Do this, go this way.”
He is the One who is an AWESOME Father who loves us and who believes in us. We are His beloved children and we know that we are loved by Him…may our children know that about us (without any doubts).