Growing up Becky and I were always each other’s constant companions. One of our favorite childhood activities was dolling up Alisha, because that’s what happens when you’re the youngest sister, and playing in the pretend “house” our parents had built for us. We would occasionally break out in disagreements over who got to be the “mommy” and, truth be told, Becky usually got the short of the stick since my bossy self typically came out on top. Even as a little girl there was one desire rooted deep in my heart…
I wanted to be a mom.
After Dave and I had been married several years we decided it was time to grow our family. I thought it would be an easy process. I was wrong. It took much longer than we expected to get pregnant but then, after plenty of tears and prayers, it happened! And now I have the blessing of not one, not two, but three little people who affectionately call me “mama”.
Our kids range from 3 years old to 9 and I can honestly say that I’ve loved every stage for different reasons. Our kids are amazing, although certainly not perfect, and I am proud of who they are each growing to become. Dave and I work hard on building genuine and loving relationships with all three in order to create a foundation of trust and respect as we face the future.
There are days I fail miserably in the mom department and, when that happens, I’m relieved to know that God’s unfailing love makes up for my own shortcomings. There is no One Stop Shop for parenting. Our children don’t come with user manuals. I’ve messed up in the past and I will mess up again, but there are also valuable lessons I’ve learned on this adventure of raising young children that make each day a bit easier.
- Have a unified front with your spouse. Dave and I make every decision together, We want the kids to see that we agree in all things. This avoids manipulation and potential division in our home.
- Be their parent not their friend. Of course we want our kids to like us but what they actually need are parents. Our job is to teach them to be respectful and considerate of others, to follow directions, to make good choices, and all those other important life skills that will likely make us unpopular in their eyes.
- Boundaries and consequences are necessary. Saying “no” to your kids is hard and following through on punishment is usually harder, however boundaries and consequences affect all of us in some way. This is not just a parent/child lesson it’s a “rest of your life” reality. Teaching kids, from an early age, to obey authority is not a good thing, it’s a great thing.
- Make your home a safe environment. Dave and I desire for Bella, Abbi and Aidan to feel comfortable talking to us about any and all things. This means making ourselves available to them – setting aside time each day to have open conversations about their experiences and feelings. A place where they constantly hear us say things like…
- I love you.
- I’m proud of you for making that choice.
- I know your feelings are hurt but be a kind friend anyway.
- I’m sorry I got upset with you today. Will you forgive me?
- Most importantly… show love. The greatest of all God’s commandments is that we love! Let your children see Jesus at work in and through you. Selflessly pour yourself into them – not just meeting their physical needs but also nurturing their mental and spiritual well-being. Be filled with kindness and grace, forgiveness and compassion.
The role of mom is hard and exhausting yet in the words of a popular saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” My prayer is that as I kiss those sweet faces each night, regardless of how good or bad the day was, my heart will remember that I’m raising the next generation of servant leaders… and that is the most important responsibility of all.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed. – Proverbs 31:25-28a