When you and I became mothers, we were immediately – and indefinitely – enrolled in a high-intensity program.
We were lured into motherhood by visions of cuddly bundles of joy, all the while not realizing that we had voluntarily enlisted in “Life-Long-Character-Growth-Boot-Camp”.
Before I had kids, I thought the adage “children are a blessing” referred to all the joys I would experience as a mother. I didn’t understand that the proverb held a double meaning…
Things I didn’t know until I became a mom:
I never knew little boys could shoot pee from one room, across the hall, and clear into another room – no, I never knew this until I was a mother. (True story. Read it here.)
I never knew that I could get so desperate for support and encouragement that I’d approach a total stranger on the road and beg them to pray for me. (Also a true story. Read it here.)
And I never knew that I could be selfless and strong and brave. (Find out what I’m talking about here.)
No, I never knew these things until I became a mother.
The Biggest (Double) Blessing of Being a Mom
A mother’s greatest blessing – the double blessing – isn’t found only in the joys of motherhood (a child’s soft embrace, delightful toddler milestones, unimaginable feelings of love, etc.). A mother’s greatest blessing is equally found in the building of her own character.
A mother’s double blessing is the JOY and the life-long CHARACTER GROWTH that is found through motherhood.Tweet
As we watch our babies grow, we ourselves grow in leaps and bounds. We gown in:
- creativity, multi-tasking, forgiveness, and;
A Lesson in Humility
Lessons in humility especially pain me. One character growth lesson God seems determined to teach me is to watch my words. My arrogant, unknowing words.
I’m beginning to wonder if it’s possible to eat more words than you speak.Tweet
Three words that persistently shove their way back down my throat are: “I will never…”
An Overconfident Vow
Having grown up as the youngest of seven, I had a wee bit of a chip on my shoulder about “youngest child” stigmas. I felt frustrated with – no, I HATED – the assumption that every youngest child was spoiled. Spoiled? I wasn’t spoiled. I worked just as hard as anyone else in my family.
With pride and determination, I knew that when I grew up, I would carry on the legacy of hardworking families and wise parenting. I vowed – with absolute certainty – that when I raised my own family, I would NEVER, EVER spoil my youngest child!
Never say “Never”
Julie is my youngest child. She’s seven years old. Julie is pure joy, a delight, and a blessing; however, she’s also a character.
Here’s an excerpt from my 2015 personal journal (Julie would have been around 2 years old at the time that I wrote this)…
Julie gives me the mega-giggles every day, but she also drives me crazy ALL DAY LONG. She rarely plays with toys; instead, she wanders the house with her blankie trailing behind her. When she’s not wandering, she’s getting into trouble.
Julie seems bent on completing a checklist of forbidden activities from morning till night each day:
- Dial random numbers on the home phone, then pretend to talk to Daddy at work. Check.
- Gather all the dirty water cups from the breakfast table. Pour water from cup to cup until one cup overflows and waterfalls down to the floor. Watch to see what Mom will do. Check.
- Say “I need to pee!” Then, do NOT pee even a tinkle before yelling, “I’m done!” Repeat every 2 hours. Check.
- Fill bathroom sink with water and soap bubbles. Be sure to slosh over the side and onto the floor. Check.
- Climb onto desk chair and randomly click mouse 50 times. Then, press keyboard keys frantically until Mom notices. Squeal with glee. Check.
- Push chair to kitchen counter. Take pen and scribble all over Mom’s open day planner.
- Notice Mom forgot to lock the pantry door. Get plastic cup, open pantry, fill cup with chocolate chips. Eat. Check.
- Sit on Tyson’s head while he’s trying to read a book on the couch after school. Check.
Now, Julie has added a new shenanigan to her daily routine. She sneaks into her brothers’ room and locks herself inside. Then, she…
- jumps on their beds,
- steals their stuffed animals,
- pushes a chair up to the dresser to snag toys from their baskets,
- yanks on the dangling lamp switch 100 times, and
- makes a mess with water cups still sitting on their nightstands from the night before.
All the while, the boys yell at her from the hallway, unable to get in (but still able to witness everything she’s doing because their door is glass!)
The other day, Julie was flipping and flopping – all over me and the couch – and doing everything in her power to keep me from writing and drinking my coffee. I asked her to stop a million times. Finally, she paused and said with a grin:
“Mommy, cute girls don’t get disciplined.”
Bah! She’s running the house, Lord! Please help me to train her better.
“Train Up a Child”
As you can see, I was well on my way to doing the very thing I vowed not to do. Countless times, I have eaten my words as I realize that, once again, I’ve let my child’s behavior spiral out of control.
Yet, every time I feel that I’ve failed, I know I can ask for help. And God is always faithful to help me when I ask. He doesn’t condemn me. He says, “Yes, Sara, it’s hard. But I gave you this job. I know you can do it with my help!”
My dear Julie isn’t 2 anymore. She’s growing up! Julie is kind, generous, entertaining, cheerful, encouraging, enthusiastic, diligent, a hard worker – the list goes on. She does chores, gets disciplined, is taught manners, etc.,
Even so, it would be easier to give in to her cuteness (and I often do) because training children is hard work.
Most every day, I fight the urge to spoil my little girl. I keep fighting the urge because I know that it’s my job to train her for the real world, for when she’s grown and on her own. God has commanded me:
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6
Mom, and Doubly Blessed!
Are children a joy and a delight and a blessing? Oh, yes! I’m thankful for my children every day. But my greatest blessing as a mom – the double blessing – is my own character growth:
- I’ve learned to persevere!
- I’ve learned to face hard realities and find solutions!
- I’ve learned to ask for help!
- I’ve learned to dress wounds, sing lullabies, manage a household (albeit poorly), lower a fever, counsel my children, give instructions, and listen better!
I’m thankful that this training will never end, not even when my kids are grown, because God is an infinite Father – always loving, always disciplining, always guiding, always encouraging, and always training me up in the way I should go.
Oh, Heavenly Father, Please help me to do the same for my children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What lessons have you learned in Life-Long-Character-Growth-Boot-Camp?
Rather than condemning ourselves for our weaknesses or seeming failures as moms, let’s learn from each other!
Many of the most encouraging moments I’ve experienced as a mom have been when other moms were willing to be vulnerable and share their experiences with me. 🙂
So, don’t be shy. Share one of your own double blessing moments below.