I adore being a mom. I really do. I have said it before - when I became a mom, I became the most "me" I'd ever felt. So many of the hang ups and distractions of life fell away for me when I had my boys. No, I am not perfect by any means, and if you look at the amount of hand sanitizer I buy, you'll note I have developed new neuroses, but all in all I adore being a mom. Although there are the occasional "gerbil days" (days where you understand why some species eat their young), most everyday is marked with contentment that, for this season, I get to parent such interesting, fun, and unique children.
Yet as this Mothers Day approaches so quickly, I feel the need to refocus. Do you ever have times where you have been coasting along, and all the sudden you realize that you are a bit off course? That's where I am at. No, the inmates haven't taken over the assylum, but there may be a few weak spots in the barbed wire fence that need attention. There are some spots in my heart that need immediate attention too. Here are some of the things I need to be more intentional about.
The boys need deeper roots. I know they are only 8 and 5 1/2, but sometimes I feel like precious time with them is slipping through my fingers like sand. It slips away, but so softly and gently that I don't bother to notice. What finally wakes me up to the lost time with the boys is when I see them forget who they are, and I realize with grief that I have stopped reminding them. I want my boys to know, down in the core of their being, who and whose they are. My sons are young warriors. The expectation at their age is not that they will fully understand and own that at all times, but the expectation I have for myself is that I will work each day in little moments to speak over and instill in them warrior qualities. I know they can't embrace this overnight, but if their roots are to grow, those roots need watered and tended regularly. Life interrupts, but no interruption should prevent root work from happening.
It is all about relationship. I have been around my boys for awhile now (8 and 5 1/2 years respectively), and I can function on autopilot fairly well with each of them. I know what entertains, occupies, frustrates, and excites them. But sometimes I defer automatically to these things without spending enough time in relationship with them. They deserve to spend more time to be heard, and less time to be entertained. Now are the years to cultivate relationship with them, and I know in the next year or so, a deep relationship is what it is going to take to keep our family moving in the right direction. Relationship means time. Time I could be doing laundry, doing housework, or doing nothing. But I need to give them more time for relationship.
Finally, I need to teach. No, I'm not talking about homeschooling (although I think about homeschooling sometimes), but to remember that every moment that I say or do (or DON'T say or do) something is teaching my boys. Every one. I have nice kids, and I think that lulls me into a false sense of security that they know what they need to know. But they are so young. I finally made peace with myself several years ago when I heard myself ask, "How many times do I have to tell you..." in frustration, only to have the answer dawn on me - probably a thousand times. Parenting is the ultimate lather, rinse, repeat. Consistency in the big issues and in the small moments is the key to truly learning life's lessons. I've got to do the hard, monotonous, inglorious work. Over and over again. Day in and day out.
Probably the thing I love most about being a mom for the last 8 years is that no matter what I try to work on in the boys, it always ends up being my heart that is changed. What I want to see in them is what I need to refine in myself. It truly is the hardest job on earth, and I can't imagine there is one self aware woman out there who feels equipped and successful all the time. Or even most of the time. But being a mom is such a life changing and life affirming opportunity, and I wouldn't trade the wisdom and joy I have gained in the last 8 years for anything.
And that is something to focus on too.