Moms. Motherhood. Mommies.
Short nights and endless days.
Who knew? Who knew that this tiny bundle of squalling, colicky impatience would cause me to wear my heart on my sleeve for the rest of my life?
Mounds of laundry and dishes.
No time to go to the bathroom alone.
Legos … Barbie bits … and match box cars strewn across the family room floor.
Little fingerprints … PBJ kisses … and baby chortles strewn across my heart.
I never knew that I had a problem with anger until I had a two year old.
I never knew that I could love so fiercely … so completely … so passionately … and so purely … until I heard a little voice sweetly say, “Ma-ma”.
I had the opportunity to be a member of the speaking team at the National MOPS Convention last week. I spent 3 days among pregnant wombs … stretch marks … and women filled with promise and potential.
The official name of this conference? MOMcon 2015! What a name! What a conference!
Even though these extraordinary women might have had bags under their eyes caused by sleep deprivation … the twinkle in each eye had not abated!
It was exhilarating to rub shoulders and to share dreams with the women who are the carriers of the DNA of those who will come after us in purpose and in virtue. And let me tell you … these women are a force to be reckoned with!!
These women were dreamers and doers.
They had questions too hard to answer yet listened with an intensity born of desperation.
They laughed … they cried … they worshipped … they danced … and they roared!
My! Could these moms roar!
There were working moms … and homeschool moms … and single moms … and foster moms.
There were worn-out moms … and hyper moms … and empty moms … and enthusiastic moms.
There were lawyers … and TV anchors … and missionaries … and writers … all connected at the heart by one simple phrase, “I am a mom.”
There were moms of multiples … moms of special needs kids … and nursing moms.
Each one was a mom to the core.
I believe the primary similarity that every one of the 2,800 moms in attendance shared was a familiar ache of the soul. Each woman there had an ache to do this one thing well:
To mother well.
To mother really, really well.
And oh my! How I could relate to that ache!
If there is one thing that a mother longs to be a success at, it is at raising her children. None of us intrinsically desires to fail at mothering.
If you are a mom, you know that your heart beats with a passion to make a profound and lasting difference in the next generation.
We ache for that. We all ache to mother well.
So, what does it mean to mother well? What does it mean to change the life of a child?
What does it mean to prepare a child for bullying, and failure, and success, and singleness, and poverty, and war, and divorce, and health, and sickness?
What does it mean to raise a healthy child? What does it look like to raise not a perfect child but an emotionally healthy child?
As a mom, whose children are now grown and gone, and as I look back at my failures and at my strengths, this is what I believe that it takes to raise brave, world-changing kids:
1 – A mom must spend time on her knees. If you want to raise your children for daring exploits, for noble pursuits and for living with simple kindness, then you will pray. You will pray when you get them up in the morning and when you put them to bed at night. You will pray when they are obeying and when they are whining. You will pray over every meal, before every test, before every athletic event, before every recital, before every sleep-over and before they put the keys in the ignition. And then, you will pray some more.
2 – A mom must love unconditionally. When they are darling babies, this is an easy task; however, when colic rears its head and when sleep deprivation sets in, you may just forget how to love with word and in deed. At that moment, take a deep breath and ask God for strength. It always comes back to prayer, doesn’t it?!
Love unconditionally when your children are strong-willed 2 year olds and when they are whining 4 year olds. Get down on their level, hold their face in your hands, and then declare your love for this miniature person, “I love you so much. There is nothing that you could say or nothing that you could do to ever stop my love for you. You are mine and I love you.”
And … when they are teen-agers, filled with lippy opinion and sarcastic innuendo, love them anyway. Look at their faces and grin. Declare over this pile of hormones, acne and attitude, “Do you know what?! I love you completely and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!”
Often … it is at a child’s worst moment when they need to be loved the very most.
3 – A mom must speak words of kindness and encouragement every day of a child’s life. Your words are the most powerful way that you mother so make sure that every word spoken is health-giving and not life-taking. Mothers should never scream, call names or belittle. Never.
The words that you speak over the life of your child have the power to give life or to bring death. Which will it be?
Prayer. Love. Words.
“The Big Three of Mothering.”
If I could do it all over again … I would pray more … I would love more deeply … and I would speak only in words laced with kindness and with easy tones of strength.
Young moms … MOPS … MOMCon … we are cheering for you! You can do it!
You can raise the next generation of world-changing Christians! You can do it!
You are raising the next Billy Graham … the next Matt Maher … the next Kari Jobe … the next Bob Goff … and the next Beth Moore! You can do it!
You are raising Daniels … and Esthers … and Peters … and Hannahs! You can do it!
You are raising the prayer warriors … the presidents … the pastors … the scientists … the worship leaders … the professors … and the moms and the dads of the next generation! You can do it!!
How you mother matters … it matters very, very much.
If you think that your primary responsibility is wiping noses, changing diapers and making Mac and Cheese … then you have it wrong … you have it all wrong!
How you mother matters … it matters to the Kingdom of God and it matters in the kingdoms of this world.
It matters. You matter, mom. You matter very, very much.