Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

From “Good Mom” to a Mother

on April 12, 2014

As a mother, I often wonder if I am doing the right thing for my children.  Not only am I concerned about doing the right thing for them now, but even more so for their future.  I look at each new day as an opportunity to invest in their hearts now and for their future. This idea was spurred when a friend shared her heart for mothering and gave me a beautiful picture of how she prayed for her children: “I don’t so much pray for the ability to raise good children, as I do to raise godly adults.”  Her words impacted me, and have made a difference in the way I look at my role as Mom.

I used to think that being a good mom was some sort of badge of honor I needed to wear daily, out in the open, so all who were within viewing distance of me could see it.  It was kind of like a public performance, a total facade, just to impress whomever was looking.  I remember looking around at other moms when my daughter was in preschool and sizing them up.  Did I look like that mom over there, with her frazzled hair, her tired eyes, her exhausted sighs of frustration as she picked up her screaming toddler to comfort him?  Or, did I look like that mom over there, with her beautiful hair, perfect make-up, name-brand everything and well-behaved children?  Well, I knew what I felt like: the exhausted mom. But I couldn’t let anyone know that about me, so I learned to play the part of “the mom who has her act together” quite well.  Nevermind that inside I was scrambling just to figure out my own feelings half the time.  If you knew me, if you were in my life in even the smallest way back then, I made SURE you knew that was a good mom.  It was essential.  Being a good mom was more than just a role I was playing, it was my identity.

Wow, have times changed for me.

God has done a major work inside this mother’s heart.  It started when I realized that I was an alcoholic.  When God opened my eyes to this major issue in my life, I began to see how very twisted my perception on reality had become.  I was constantly over-striving to be a good mom because, inside, it was the only thing I had to cling to. I had already lost the role of good wife.  I didn’t care much about being a good daughter, friend, sister, or even employee at that time.  I was so self-consumed, so stuck in my pit of despair, that the ONLY – and I mean ONLY – thing that kept me motivated some days, was the fact that I had to be a good mom.  In fact, one of the driving forces for me to get the help I needed to overcome my active alcoholic behaviors was the fact that my kids needed me.  In the beginning, my sobriety was directly tied to my role as a mom.  I needed to be sober because I needed to be there for my children, and, I desperately needed YOU to see that.

Today, I stand 1,318 days without a drink.  That’s 1,318 days of learning how to live a sober life.  God has done a major work inside my heart during my recovery process.  About a year into my sobriety, the desperation to stay sober for my kids was no longer there.  At that point, sobriety had become a way of life for me, and things were starting to become a little more balanced.  God began to show me some things during that time.  He began to show me that I placed my role as good mom far too high on my priority list.  He showed me that while I was so busy trying to get everyone to see me being a good mom….I was missing out on some of the most important aspects of being a mom.  The first thing I was missing was that my kids don’t actually belong to me.  Let me say that again.

My children do not actually belong to me.

You can believe that I wrestled with God on THAT one for a while.  In the end, He showed me that my children are not my property.  I don’t own them.  He showed me that my children are precious gifts, more than that: He has entrusted me with their lives.  Entrusted me to love them well, to raise them up in His Love, to discipline them and show them the right path, to minister to their hearts, to guide and direct them in their times of need, and MOST IMPORTANTLY to foster within them a LOVE for the Lord.  He showed me that He has blessed me with the role of being a mother, not just a good mom.  My number one job as a Mother? Getting my kids back to where they came from!  I did not create my children.  God did.  I did not place every hair on their heads.  God did that too.  I don’t own them, but He has given them to me to love, to cherish, to teach, to guide, and to direct them back to Him.  Letting go of my need  to  be validated as a good mom was HUGE for me.  When God finally broke through my pride, and I was able to see the Truth about my children being gifts and not possessions: only then was I able to begin developing real relationships with each one of them.  I was able to stop trying to impress everyone around me, and start intentionally working at impressing God’s Love into my children’s hearts and lives.

All three of my children understand that I put God first in my life.  My middle guy – my logical thinker – struggles with that concept from time to time, and questions me on it.  One time he said to me, “Mommy, does that mean that you love God more than you love me?”  My response to him was this:  “Honey, without God, you aren’t even here for me to love.  The best way for me to love you is to make sure that I am keeping God first.  I can love you best when I am loving God first.”  He understood what I was saying, and I even saw a twinkle in his eye as he processed what that meant.

Loving God FIRST in my life is the only way I can do anything.  Keeping Him on His throne keeps me off of it!  It was so easy to place my need to be a good mom as the highest priority of my life.  It was no wonder that I was constantly falling short.  I was trying to be this great mom on my own.  And, let’s face it – on my own– I can’t even keep my own life straight, much less my 3 beautiful children.  I HAVE to have God’s presence within me to even begin being the Mother He has called me to be.  I have to approach Him with every need, every fear, every worry, every heartache.  I have to pray for the words to speak into each one of my children’s lives: words that will encourage them and build them up, while disciplining them and teaching them the way they need to go.  I can’t do that without God in the driver’s seat.

So, I think I’ll move over, and let the Father drive.

New International Version
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

New Living Translation
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

English Standard Version
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

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