“Am I spending time with my children?”
This question often pops into my mind. Now if you know me, I’m sure you’d probably laugh at me. I sort of laugh at myself. I have four kids (and one on the way). My oldest, Rahab, will be 4 1/2 when the new one is born.
Of course, I spend time with them. They never leave my side.
I guess what I am actually asking myself is “Do I enjoy my children?”
When I go grocery shopping I get a lot of comments. I push around one of those monstrosities of a car cart with four children in it. I hear almost every time, “You’ve got your hands full.” But I also get, “I hope you at least got your boy,” and, “Don’t have any more.” I have to laugh because I fully recognize that I look like a circus act, but I also wonder why the positive comments are so few and far between? I think about this question a lot.
I believe many people, including us as mothers, portray and often see our children as burdens. They are the reason we have to have 3 cups of coffee before 10, a glass of wine before 5, and a box of chocolates in between. If we complain about our children and see them as a nuisance, why would the world view children as anything different? Children aren’t a nuisance. They aren’t our burden to bear. Just because raising children is hard work doesn’t give use license to grumble, complain, and think that we deserve something more.
Having children is a gift.
I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children while my husband works, and I should not see it any other way. We should be grateful for each moment we have to love and train our children. While in the throes of these little years it may be hard to see, but the days we have with them are few. Do you have eternity in mind with this work you are doing? Are you making the most of each day, raising children whom you enjoy so one day they will be adults you love to be around?
As a mother, if you find yourself grumbling throughout your day, ask yourself, “Am I enjoying my children?” I know on days that I am frustrated or grumbling I am not living with a long-range view. What should I do? How do I change from complaining to enjoying my children?
Here are a few thoughts...
Just do it. Change your attitude. Have fun with your children. Be present, don’t just be in the same room with them. Be involved, share in their hopes and dreams, make believe with them, roll around on the floor, pin them down and tickle them, play memory with them for the 100th time.
When it’s time to work, have them help you. Do the hard work of having fun as they help you. Sometimes this means making more work for yourself, but remember you are teaching your children important lessons as you joyfully work with them. Let go of the selfishness that so often keeps you saying “no,” and say “yes” to things. For me, it’s letting my 4-year-old make muffins she always asks to make. I don’t want to say “yes” because I know she makes a big mess and it’s always right when I’m trying to get dinner ready. But I want her to learn to cook and I want her to like to work with me. So I say "yes"—then, when she cracks the egg perfectly for the first time, I can share in her joy.
Take your kids to a new park just because they’ll love it. Go to the library and get a bin of books and come home and read them all. Start a collection of cicada skins because they’re a great no-maintenance pet. Let you kids finger paint in pudding on the counter. (I remember my mom doing this with us; I still cherish the memory.) Make home-made popsicles. Take them out window shopping because it’s what your little girls love to do, even if you look like a circus. Let your boys play in the mud and don’t complain about having to clean up afterward. Start traditions, keep promises, say “yes” happily, be spontaneous.
Show the world that your children are a joy to you. Delight in your children and let them delight in you.
Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory.”
Psalm 84:11-12 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!”
Guest author Elizabeth Rethorn shares great insights about joyful mothering because she is one of the most joyful mothers out there. God has blessed her and her husband Jonathan with four happy kiddos too, plus one on the way. Her mothering journey began when she first turned 23 with baby #1...and baby #2 arrived before she even turned 24! Elizabeth is a kid-at-heart as she delights in eating an ice cream cone every evening, spinning the cotton candy at church functions, and enjoying candy as much as her toddlers.