Posted by: minnow | May 18, 2014

Becoming a Better Mom

I am a better mom today than I was twenty-five, fifteen, even five years ago.  I am a better mom because I am a better person.  I’m doing things that challenge me, that allow me to be creative, and that grow my world.  I am a better mom because I am walking a path that doesn’t force my children to be my fulfillment, to make me feel significant, or to bring me happiness.  I am a better wife, daughter, sister, and friend for these same reasons. But, a week ago we celebrated Mother’s Day (5/11/14) so I’ve been thinking about my role as Mom.

Shortly after my youngest was born, almost 9 years ago, I let go of Building-based Christianity.  Since then I re-evaluated most of the traditional teachings with regard to the wife’s and husband’s roles; salvation, hell, and what Jesus actually accomplished on the cross; tithing and the purpose of a building.  I’ve tried to hold onto the literal translation of  verses like this, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17) and this, “The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”/Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”/Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17) and this, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10) At the same time I have to let other verses weigh less heavily on my heart.   

I mention this transformation in my theology because it has helped me approach my parenting with my adult children and my youngest child differently than I parented when the olders were younger.  (At times the olders object but for the most part I think they see my change as positive).  When the issue of my daughter’s baptism came up about a month ago I felt judged by my former fellowship.  I had to check myself because nobody actually talked to me other than my daughter so in reality I jumped to some conclusions that may have been unfair.  I think I handled the interaction with my daughter rather well even though internally I wrestled with a host of conflicting emotions and thoughts.  In the end, I got the opportunity to see how much I’ve changed in the past nine years.

While I see my role in my youngest daughter’s life as part coach, part protector, and part provider, I am finally after five children understanding that ultimately I best help my daughter when I help her recognize and live with her own choices. I might not get too excited about letting someone pray over her, dunk her in a pool, and declare her saved. But, more important than me having an opinion about it one way or the other, my daughter needs to understands what she thinks about it and how (to the best of her 8 year old ability) all her choices, including baptism, are influenced by outside forces.  She needs to be able to discern what motivates those influences. [An aside: As with all her siblings I’m not worried my eight year old daughter is going to hell.  I not only find no Biblical evidence to support a place of eternal torment as painted by traditional evangelicals I happen to believe my daughter has a developing faith in a loving God that I trust will continue to mature as she matures.  And, the fewer requirements I put on her faith the more likely it is to mature.]  My greatest role as her mother is to provide insight when asked and protection as needed.

Now some may read the above and think I washed my hands of my responsibility as a mother. I did not.  However, me teaching my daughter right from wrong, encouraging her to live a morally upright life, and expecting her to contribute to society in a positive way needs to be motivated by my concern for her well being rather than for my own ego.  I don’t do any of my children any favors by pressuring them to walk out my ideals for their futures so I can look good or have something to take pride in or brag about.  I do them a disservice when I place my hopes and expectations or my sense of fulfillment and purpose on their shoulders because I limit their achievements to what I can do or imagine for them. Roots are important; they provide nourishment and stability.  Yet every healthy plant reaches upward.  A butterfly gets most of its sustenance while its still a caterpillar but it hasn’t fulfilled its potential until it flies away.

One way we give the next generation the courage to imagine more than what it can see in its immediate future is by seeing more ourselves.  When my children watch me walk out my dreams it teaches them that dreams are a good thing to have.  When I weave in and out of their days and bring back stories from my travels they learn that the world is rich with adventure and while the journey can be difficult and takes various kinds of strength, they are already in the middle of it so they needn’t be afraid.  When our children see us go out into the world they will have more confidence that they too can venture out.  Ultimately, my life is better when it’s shared–me with another and the other with me–than when I try to live my life through someone else.

 

 

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Responses

  1. I am currently working on letting go. My oldest daughter will be leaving for college in 2 years and I have been allowing her to make the majority of her decisions on her own. Doing so has allowed me to step back and watch her grow and really see who she is. It also gives me the chance to see that she will be alright and make good choices when she leaves. I love the part about the butterfly reaching its full potential when it flies away! Thanks for the great post!

  2. Amen sister! What a powerful and wise post. Jesus said that he came to set the captives free, and I think that you breathe that freedom towards your kids as you deeply respect their right to have a self that is different from yourself. And you breathe that freedom towards yourself as you joyfully claim your own right to have a self that includes life dreams and goals, etc. I appreciate how articulately you laid out your thoughts on this topic.


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