Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mission of Motherhood - Chapter 1

As a child, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, and later as an older teenager, an architect. Through it all though, what I wanted most was to be a wife and a mother.  While my career path changed drastically (I'm an administrative assistant in IT/Healthcare), I have been a wife for 17 years and a mother for 16.

When my oldest son was born, I quickly realized motherhood was not what I expected it to be.  Alex was most definitely his own unique person even before he was. (Having to be induced TWICE should have clued me in to that fact, but alas it didn't. LOL)  With Alex, nothing even remotely "normal" applied. He ate way more than the parenting books said he should, and slept when he wanted to.  The concept of a schedule was far removed from our days.  Alex ate table food at 5 months, preferred a cup to the bottle by 7 months, and walked shortly after -- then went back and learned to crawl.  His vocabulary was voluntarily limited to a few basic words, until he was 3ish (we were convinced something was wrong of course).

My favorite story of Alex's early childhood is the day we realized just what type of person we were dealing with.  As odd as it sounds, Alex disliked any type of fried potato, so dinner out was always challenging.  After asking for ice cream, we told him to eat half his french fries - which he did, in the form of half of each fry on his plate.  Manny and I shook our heads -- how were we to argue with that logic?   More than 13 years after the fry incident, his black-and-white analytical thought process continues to confound me. 

Manny was hurt in a work-related accident when Alex was only 6 weeks old, forcing me to return to work earlier than I'd anticipated while he stayed home with the baby.  I was already dealing with undiagnosed PPD and we had very little support to lean on, and the circumstances we found ourselves in did nothing for the positive.   I felt withdrawn from life, from my husband, and never truly bonded with my baby.   GOD has long since healed me of the depression, but I've never managed to fully feel like I have a strong relationship with Alex.

When Alex was 4 1/2 yo, his little brother Andy was born.  With Andy, it was entirely different.  I was in a better job and was able to work part time from home while on maternity leave. Manny was working again, although we didn't know then how short our time as a two-working parent household would be.   I was able to nurse Andy (something I couldn't do with Alex) and we developed the mother-baby bond I'd longed for.   Andy is my mini-me, which at age 12, isn't always a good thing.  More often than not he drives me nuts and because I can identify with his thinking, I give in far more than I should.

When I read about the start of a book club to read The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson with the ladies at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee, I quickly ordered a copy for myself.  I thought maybe reading about God's vision of motherhood would better enable me to be the type of mother I long to be before it's too late and my boys are grown.

Chapter 1: A Journey Like No Other - Discovering the Mission of Motherhood

But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
PROVERBS 31:30-31

Some things I've underlined while reading...

"Children...need not only the gentle touch of a mother's hands, but her focus and her attention on a daily basis. They need a champion and a cheerleader, someone who has the time and energy to give encouragement along life's way and comfort in dark times. They need a directive voice to show them how to live.  ... Meeting those needs is not an option or a sideline for mothers."  p.2

"The fundamental mission of motherhood now is the same as it always was: to nurture, to protect, and instruction children, to create a home environment that enables them to learn and grow, to help them develop a heart for God and his purposes, and to send them out into the world prepared to live both fully and meaningfully."   p.3

"... the child's heart is naturally open to the mother. Children automatically turn toward their mothers as their first source of protection, love, and spiritual, emotional, and mental support."  p.8

"As much as I loved my children, I often felt like a failure. Surely someone else could do a better job with these precious ones than I."  p.13

"God designed motherhood to be a deeply meaningful role. We mothers have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children. ... The real ability of a mother to secure such a spiritual legacy is based on the strength of her relationship with her child."  p.13-14

"Following God's design for living is the true key to finding myself...  I will grow into the kind of person God wants me to be as I live out  my life in faith and seek to be faithful in my walk with God; as I nurture and honor my commitment to my husband and children and family and home; as I exercise my skills, training, and gifts toward those whom God has placed on my path; as I seek to give to the poor and minister to the needy and those in my neighborhood and church while living a life of bold faith in a great and wonderful God."  p.15

"Being a mother encompasses all that is best within me."  p.15

"The mission of motherhood is strategic in providing the next generation with wholehearted, emotionally healthy, and spiritually alive adults."  p.16

"My influence on my children is limited only by the smallness of my dreams and my lack of commitment to the Lord and his purposes."  p.16

My children are blessings and I must always remember that, even when they drive me beyond insane and I want to lock them in their rooms permanently.  Our family must strive to build personal relationships with God in order to strengthen our relationship with each other.  I must become more diligent in following the path God has set for my life so that my boys will yearn for the same type of relationship with their Heavenly Father.  I need to spend more time in prayer for my husband, my boys, and our family. I need to pay more attention to them and less to the computer. I need to respond to them joyfully instead of being appearing unapproachable or seeming to be put out because they were talking to me while I had headphones on.   I have a lot of work to do.
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