Since becoming a mother, it’s not surprising that parenting seems to be one of the most prevalent topics of conversation. Most of my closest friends have children and we spend much of our time together discussing our home life, funny things our kids did, or how we handled the day’s struggles. I was sharing with a friend yesterday how if I’m not careful, I can find myself a slave to daily “tasks” without really thinking carefully about how I’m spending my time. Being a stay-at-home mom is such a gift and I really am grateful for every second I am able to spend with my daughter. However, I sincerely doubt my child will really care if she has a mom that keeps the house spotless, the laundry always done, and a different meal on the table every night so spending all my time on those tasks really seems pointless (don’t worry, husband, I won’t slack completely!). Like all parents, I wonder what the secret ingredient might be and while I doubt it actually exists, a recent revelation has definitely inspired a new train of thought.
When I was pregnant, people would give us all sorts of advice:
“Sleep now, you’ll never sleep again.”
“You better enjoy each other because you’ll never be alone again.”
“Get ready for a loud house!”
In reality, I sleep more now than I have in years (a full 8 hours, minimum). Sure, Kyle & I aren’t alone as much but we prioritize and still have dinner together almost every night and have a few hours alone after her bedtime. And as far as the volume goes–I’ll take the noise any day, especially when it’s the sweet noises from the cutest little girl around. So, to all those people that unintentionally spoke those lies over my house, you were–to put it simply–wrong. Looking back, there’s only one universal piece of advice that everyone gave that was absolutely true–
“Your life will never, ever be the same again.”
Being pregnant with my first child, I had no idea what effect this tiny little baby would have on my life. I knew her arrival would bring changes but little did I expect I would be forced to look at myself in an entirely different way. Every night, Lilian has a bedtime routine that ends with her daddy & I praying over her as we’re putting her in her crib, often asking Papa to show us how to be better parents. A few weeks ago, Kyle was working late so I was playing with her before bed and I heard the Lord say, “You need to learn how to parent yourself the way you would parent her.”
Whew. It was one of those lines that somewhat takes your breath away because you realize the gravity of what you’ve heard and what it’s going to take to actually follow through. Consequently, my daughter has become the best accountability partner imaginable. More than anything, I want to raise my daughter in a way where she knows she is loved by Papa, moved by the Holy Spirit, & guided by wisdom & the word. However, I cannot have expectations of her that I refuse to have for myself. How can I expect her to grow up into a confident, healthy woman if she sees me staring into the mirror, disappointed and unhappy with what I see? How can I tell her to follow her dreams if I refuse to acknowledge my own? How can I encourage her to read the Word if she never sees me doing the same?
This isn’t some legalistic idea that I have to model perfection for my daughter. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s the reality that she will grow up to see whose voice has the most influence in my life. She’ll know if mom is happy with who she is, she’ll know if mommy and daddy really love each other, & she’ll know exactly who has more power in our house: Holy Spirit or fear. She’ll see if I choose compassion when I encounter a homeless person on the street and she’ll see if I choose grace when someone wrongs me. She’ll see whether I choose honesty or convenience when I accidentally leave the grocery store with an item the clerk didn’t scan and she’ll see whether I choose humility even though I know I’m right. She’ll see whether I really pray for someone when I tell them I will and she’ll see who and what I value by how I choose to use my time.
Having the opportunity to influence and shape a life is a gift and privilege that I don’t take lightly. I don’t expect perfection of myself nor do I expect perfection from my children. However, I must accept and acknowledge that words alone aren’t enough and at the end of the day, my actions & interactions are what really matters.
As I look at our society, it’s absolutely insane how many voices, most of which I vehemently object to, will be speaking into my kids’ lives. And while there’s no way that I can void all those out, I can do my best to ensure my life–not just my words–speaks just as loud.