I caught a bit of a certain famous psychologist’s show today and his guests were parents who had questionable parenting practices. The second set of parents in particular caught my eye. The father ran the household in a military type fashion with his wife as his enforcer. I watched them explain how as a family they’d play card games but if their children lost, they were made to do push up’s.
Kinda puts your own upbringing into perspective, doesn’t it? LOL!  Sheesh.
The good doctor made some decent suggestions to this couple, mainly asking them to consider their children’s feelings and allow them to be “children” more.
I kept waiting for him to say what I believe the Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear but he never did.
What did the Spirit say?
He said, “Isn’t it a shame that for all their love for their children, it’s being lost in their drive to appear as if they’re being good parents?”
Whoa.
That made me do some thinking and soul searching.
We’ve all seen the wives who compare their marriages against their girlfriends, trying to see if they have a “good” marriage. We’ve all seen or been the parents that compare their parenting skills to other parents, in the hopes that we measure up and are found somewhere up there with the “good parents”.
But what if the quest to be a good parent was actually the problem?
The Holy Spirit continued His inner dialogue with me and said, “No one likes to have a bunch of tasks, duties and responsibilities in a day. But few realize that complaining about the tasks, duties, and responsibilities that directly affect and benefit those that we claim to love is very hurtful. Who wants to feel like someone’s job? Someone’s headache? Someone’s source of stress and strain?”
It’s not easy being a single mom. I don’t have enough arms, eyes, ears and feet to do everything that must be done in a day. I don’t have enough brain cells to juggle three major food allergies, two different sleeping habits, and four different personalities. I do my best but sometimes I miss it.
But it occurred to me today that all of my hard work, sacrifice, and self denial for the sake of my children would be in vain if they grew up feeling as if I never just simply enjoyed being their mom and having them in my life.
Wow.
Isn’t that something to ponder?
What good is all of the sacrifices we make for those we claim to love if we never communicate the most basic of expressions of love that simply says, “I love being who I am to you and I love having you in my life”?
It would break my heart if my children came to me as adults and said, “Mama, we knew you loved us but we never felt that you liked us”.
Wow again.
I don’t like laundry. I don’t like cleaning the same messy room everyday. I don’t like wiping up spills and figuring out bills and all of the other tasks, duties and responsibilities that come along with being a mom. However, I dislike “it”, not THEM. Unfortunately, children aren’t always able to separate the “it” from the THEM.
Today, I asked myself the real question: Through all of the things that you do to keep your family going and the house running smoothly, are you finding the joy in it all?”
When my children look at me, do the see a woman who is happy and joyful or someone who is stressed and annoyed? Do they feel like blessings or obligations?
Do my loved ones feel loved?
Do my friends know that I enjoy them or do they feel like I tolerate them?
Does my love show?
Does my joy flow?
I know I’ve got a lot to do in a day, just like everyone else who’s a responsible adult. There’s about three loads of laundry, one bathroom and one more bedroom screaming to be cleaned as I type. But no matter my list of tasks, chores, responsibilities and obligations, can my joy of loving those who love me be felt? Be seen? Be heard?
That’s a better project to undertake than logging onto facebook or twitter and seeing what new fancy extracurricular activity your contemporaries have signed their children up for. My children don’t speak Russian. We’re still working on tying our own shoes and cutting with scissors. Nope, my children aren’t being shown SAT flash cards in between calligraphy lessons. They don’t know long division. Maybe less than 24 hrs ago, I would have viewed this as a sign that I needed to step my game up as a mom and involve them in more things and get us more busy as a family. But on second thought….
Maybe, just maybe we’re ok and maybe, just maybe our validation as a good family doesn’t have to come from the outside.world but it should come from within? I’m not saying all those other things aren’t good and possibly beneficial but what good is any of it if our own children don’t even know that we like them and we LIKE being parents? For all of our moaning, groaning and complaining over chores, bills, bosses, traffic and messy rooms, maybe we’re not sending the right message out to our children. Yes, we work hard. Yes, we have a lot on our plate. But at no time is a full plate equal to a bitter cup. So what  I lose a few hundred hours of sleep and work hard to earn a living? It’s all worth it for the joy of having my children in my life. Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what we all need? We just want to know that to someone, we’re worth the trouble.
Genesis 29:20 puts it this way: “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her”.
Every wife wants to know while he’s working behind that desk or sweating in that hot sun, the love he has for her makes it all seem like a light burden. Every husband wants to know that her cooking, cleaning and support comes from love, not obligation. Every child wants mommy or daddy to be just as excited to see them at the end of eight or more hours apart as they are.
It’s not a job when you love.
It’s not work when you care.
God gives us that gift everyday. I’m going to try harder to make sure my children, my family and my friends receive it from me too.

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