Deep thoughts about mothering (plus poop!)

Lately, it seems like lots of people have been telling me how wonderful my children are, and inside, I’m thinking, “Yeah, but you don’t know about x, y, and z character issue that we’re struggling with, with him/her!”

Maybe I’m too hard on myself as a mother, and too hard on my kids.  Being constantly aware of their struggles blinds me to the positives, I think.

Lately, I’ve started being worried about how all my flaws as a mother… well, my children’s spouses and THEIR children are going to pay the price for that, and that kills me.  Motivates me to do better, too…

I know this is crazy, but for years — like, for a decade — I have not-so-secretly hoped that Ethan will marry a certain girl.  Young woman now, she is.  Her mother and I have even talked about it, how arranged marriages are not so bad of an idea! “I love you.   I love your child.  Yes.  They should marry.  That would rock on every level.”  And that precious girl deserves THE BEST!  I love her so very dearly.  It just kills me to think that she might reap any bad fruit of my mothering of Ethan.  Or, even if it’s not her… whoever it is.

I was telling my sister this yesterday, and she responded incredulously, “What are you talking about? Ethan is the bomb! He’s going to be an amazing husband!”

But, I also think that might be the design of the Father, for us as mothers to get a picture of how what we do, daily, is going to affect our families for generations.  It’s not just about getting through TODAY, it’s about growing and leading children who are established in love and Godliness who will lead their own families, and pass on what they’re received to their own spouses and their own children and beyond.

My sister watched my five children yesterday, along with her 4 month old baby.  This was her report:

So, the eventful morning included the following:

1 – chores:  felt like managing a young team at work.
2 – Grant made me coffee
3 – Grant told me “you’re good at that!” when I took his [Nerf] gun away.
4 – E was a Godsend.
5 – looked for which of the four pony drawings was different from the others for A.  Man, those are hard!  Several times.
5 – E was a godsend.
6 – Took F potty several times and she “leaked” each time.
7 – got my butt kicked by all three boys in the hunting game. Several times.
8 – Rcvd news that the dog ate a mostly full can of formula.
9 – E was a godsend.
10 – looked up to see Fi feeding the dog the baby rice cereal from my ziplock. (which kid took the baby food off the counter?!)
11 –  Fi pooped her pants. Cried bc she was “stinky.”
12 – Audrey was not bossy, and helped clean up her fort and her room.
13 – Taking Fi potty, and she chokes (for real) on her garbanzo bread. Some maneuvering, forceful hugs, back thumping, and pinky-fishing later, she’s ready for more garbanzo bread! (we never remembered to finish peeing that time)

In ALL of that, not a single fight, not a single naughty child, not a single moment of anger from anybody!

Oh, yeah – my kid was there somewhere too. And did I mention E?  He’s a godsend.

A WONDERFUL morning for baby and me.  The kids even made her laugh out loud.  And somebody (A?) Covered her while she slept in swing.  Blankee wadded up in her lap. Hee-hee!

A total joy.

I read that and thought, “May I please have those children?  May I please be that mother, who can say that the day was a total joy, even when bad things happen??”  If anything, my sister’s stellar report made me feel worse, like maybe I… stir up dissension.  Like maybe my personality leads to

  • perceiving conflicts that aren’t actually there
  • bringing stress to a situation and leads to arguments and strife
  • making mountains out of molehills

Etc.

And, what a bummer is that???  That my kids are fabulous and I just don’t see it enough???  That I’m stuck in the mode of, “Well, don’t think you’re fabulous, because you clearly can’t clean the bathroom well, even though we’ve been through the steps a hundred times, and you treat your siblings like dirt, and you disrespect your father, and you pitch fits, and you weasel out of responsibilities, and you’re too rough with others, and you can’t keep your mouth shut for 30 seconds….”  and so on??

Or, is it just the life of a mother to see both the best and the worst in her children?

Earlier this morning, I received a very encouraging e-mail from my pastor’s wife, and I responded with “woe is me” stuff, similar to the above.  She replied, and at the end, said, “I am climbing to that higher place of more of Jesus and less of me right along with you.”

And, YES.  THAT is what it’s all about.  Less of me, Jesus, and more of You.

  • More of You in how I mother.
  • More of You in my attitude.
  • More of You in my vision.
  • More of Your hope for the future.
  • More of Your perspective, Jesus.
  • More of Your presence in my home.
  • More of Your character in my heart.
  • Less of me.
  • More of You.

That’s the answer.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 10, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and an erstwhile birthing class instructor. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on December 29, 2010, in Character Development, Christian Living, Encouragement, Extended Family, Family, Introspective Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. So I am just going to link to this on FB because this is exactly how i feel right now.

  2. “Or, is it just the life of a mother to see both the best and the worst in her children?”

    Yes. Just remember to see the best traits more often than you see the worst, and not to hold them to an unreasonable standard. It’s natural to be disappointed when they fail, but they’re still going to fail. You are doing your job teaching them about consequences and what constitutes appropriate behavior.

    If your sister loves your kids that much then I know they must be wonderful. You have a lot to be proud of.

  3. I love this post, Karen. Here I clearly see the power of: community, family, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. These things are the most important things there are. Love you!

  4. I have struggled with my inadequacies as a mother also. And then I began to stand outside my children’s bedrooms at night, praying. I asked for God’s grace–that he would overcome my mistakes. It helped me grow and and gave me some peace of mind. God is our heavenly Father and hears our cry for help.

  5. Karen…oh how you have put into writing what so many of us feel. “Are you sure you were with MY kids?” On the not so serious side…I laughed at the initials…I refer to my children by their initial also! 🙂 I too am on the lookout for arranged marriage options for my kids! Seems awesome to me! Too bad our kids are so far apart in age! Blessings! Do not tire of doing good!

  6. I have a few thoughts on this, but I’m not sure what they are, let alone how to say them…

    I enjoyed getting the kids to do the chore more because they were not perfect, than because of some idea that they needed to be. G complained that he had the hardest chores. A told me more than once that she didn’t want to clean her room. Wessy did simply tackle them to get them over with, but when I asked him if he was ready for me to check his work, he suddenly remembered something he’d not completed previously. E kept getting interrupted by Fi, and I couldn’t help bc she didn’t trust me yet…

    the fun part was that it really was like managing a team at work. I used the exact same strategies with the exact same tone, and it worked exactly the same way. Fi needed advice on where to start, and some help to feel like she wasn’t in on it alone. So I told her to start with the strolls, then pointed out the next thing, then the next, and then she was fine. The only helping I did was put some stuffed animals in the basket and one pair of shoes in the closet. Just like a manager – you can’t do your peep work for them, but you can. Assist in times of need more to build solidarity than anything else.

    I thought Grant should do all his own work, but I was happy to hang out with him in the kitchen so it would feel easier for him and so I could ask questions that made sure he didn’t leave things undone.

    I figured E deserved to be given trust about them till he proved otherwise so I didn’t check his….

    JUST like grown-ups but instead of interstate packets or linguistic hierarchies it was dishes and room cleaning. I love managing. :O) But a sitter has more luxury than a mommy to involve herself in the process, bc that was the sum total of what my goal was – that the house not be (too) wrecked when you got home.

    your kids struck me as normal people in every way, EXCEPT there was no hint

  7. Woops.

    Except there was no hint of rebellion, no hint of anger or strife. Each of them ultimately obeyed every single thing I said, even if it took a small amount of persistence on my part once or twice.

    I can’t stress to you how wonderful they are, and how much it warmed me for them to ask my help, and show off, and make fun of me when my shooting sucked. All of their actions were moderated by, if not driven by, love.

    There was no whining, no faking injury. E NEVER ONCE over-used his authority or special position. G 3x picked up Sagey to comfort her when she fussed, and each time she quieted.

    Idk – your family seems remarkable. And human. Then remarkable again. and human again. The remarkable is awesome, and the human seems right to me somehow.

    It’s okay for A to say she doesn’t want to, and to turn away to color when I say to do her room – I have absolutely no doubt that she was telling the truth! But she DID clean it. So much better this way than if she had said okay then failed to act.

    I can see in G the autistic tendencies you struggle with – and I’m sure they wear you out. But he can also pass as normal – a huge credit to your efforts.

    Blah blah blah… I just thought they were great people. People. and I was actively happy that they were not puppets.

    You know, Thomas was so hard on us… their joy and fun and ability to get along is a huge witness to you, and God, no doubt.

    OMG, I just couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to get Fi feeding Tally the rice cereal powder! E was trying to grab it for me, but the moment passed too quickly.

    and G is so funny! He’s clearly been in enough trouble that he’s almost philosophical about it. It’s totally funny that he admired my style rather than getting mad when I took his gun away. And I could SEE his autistic tendencies at work. I could FEEL it, just like I feel in my body when I’m being dyslexic. Fi wanted comfort/attention, and I couldn’t give it to her bc she didn’t trust me yet. And he was just STUCK on that damn gun! I think he knew something was “off” and he just couldn’t derail his brain from its exclusive track until it was too late – she moved on to E. I had to take his gun away because he thought that now that the moment had past, he was free to gun without interruption. He didn’t get off the track until I took it away.

    But he knew he was wrong. He was funny-aware of what happened once I had the gun and he was derailed. :O)

    I don’t think I saw different kids than you. I just don’t carry the cosmic and moral burdens for them you do.

    and you should know that they are exceptional kids – smart, well-educated, good to each other, and completely able to have fun.

    I approve, tho agree with your sentiment for more of God and less of you, bc you just can’t go wrong with that. :O)

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