by: Jessi Cormier
Proverbs 29:15, “…a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”
As I crazily rush through my chores, I hear…
“Mom, would you throw a football in the yard with me?”
“Mom, will you work a puzzle with me?”
“Mom, will you come look at my rock collection?”
“Mom, can we read another chapter of Heidi together?”
I’m practicing the recorder, trying to make those dots and counts on paper make sense in my mind when my almost 9-year-old bursts into the room excited to play the recorder with me. So much for that much-needed practice time on my own. He needs interaction even while practicing his instrument.
I am frantically trying to prepare supper, and something for the morrow’s breakfast at the same time, and the dogs’ rice on the back burner, and wash dishes when my little daughter grabs her apron and begs for the opportunity to “be a chef like you, Mom.” I stifle a groan knowing the process is going to take me twice as long.
I go outside to water my garden. “Mom, can I help you water those plants?” Sigh. I know the way she waters means more bucket trips to the faucet for me. But my heart melts, and how can I say no? Kids long for that special time with mom and dad. They need attention. They need me day in and day out. Everyone needs me, it seems. How do I divide my time?
As a mom, how do you know when to say, “Yes,” and when it is okay to say, “No, not right now.”? As mothers, many times we struggle with priorities, and we struggle with guilt. I used to torture myself with questions. Am I giving them enough of my time? Am I showing them I love them? Am I influencing them enough for God? Is my life the right kind of example to them? I worried that saying, “No,” when they wanted my time would ruin everything.
Sometimes it is possible to stop what you are doing and push that job back to the next day. But sometimes it is not possible. That ladies devotion has to get done today. The house has to be cleaned before company arrives. I simply can’t stop stirring this pot on the stove, etc.
God has been teaching me something lately in this area of mothering, something that has really encouraged my heart. There are times when I will have to say, “No.” Sometimes I simply can’t make it happen that day. Sometimes something else has to take priority.
I’ve noticed that a couple of days later when I’m out in the yard with my son poorly attempting to throw a football to him, (my throws do not sail smoothly, by the way. They flip end over end through the air until the ball finally gives up trying and thuds miserably to the ground), I notice he doesn’t even remember that other time when I said, “No.” He’s so caught up in the joy of the moment that all I hear is, “Mom, this is so much fun! I love playing ball with you!” (By the way, it is not the quality of my throws or how well I can catch. It is the fact that my son’s love language is quality time.)
I’ve come to learn that as a mother, I am weaving the entire tapestry of their childhood. Therefore, it is not about how well I perform in a single day, but what they will remember when they look back on their lives after 18-20 years. At that time, it will be the bigger picture that they see. Oh, they may remember a single memory here and there, good or bad, which means, of course, that each memory is still important. But, as long as I consistently try to make time for my children when I can, they will remember those memorable times, and those times will overshadow the times when my answer had to be “No” or “Maybe later.”
Susannah Wesley gave each of her children one hour a week. I am sure she would have loved to give them more, but she probably did not have more time to give. She gave them what she could.
I am learning to look at the bigger picture instead of the day in and day out. It is not about one single “x” on my cross-stitch, it’s about what the finished picture of their childhood will look like.
When I look back on my own childhood, of course, I see little imperfections. I do have memories of times when my parents failed. Failing is inevitable because we are human, and we make mistakes. However, the whole overall picture of my childhood is beautiful, and it was the whole picture that influenced my life.
Moms, let’s quit beating ourselves up. Let’s stop worrying about each and every day. Yes, let’s make conscious decisions to spend quality time with our children when we can, but when we can’t let’s remember that it’s the bigger picture–the whole tapestry–that will matter in the long run, and here a little, there a little all eventually comes together to make the whole.