Motherhood is hard. It’s not only physically draining, but also emotionally draining. Just ask any parent who has sat with her child in a hospital emergency or surgery waiting room. In my case, I feel emotionally drained after about 20 minutes of driving practice with one of our teenagers! Emotional stress can actually manifest itself in physical ways. When you are emotionally tired, you may also feel physically tired, moody, cranky, and even start to gain weight.
Most mothers tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves to be the best mother they can be. They compare themselves to other mothers and their children. They begin to ask themselves things like: Why is my son just now crawling at 11 months and that baby has been walking since he was 10 months old? How does that lady look so polished with her perfect hair and perfect make up at the 9 am story time, while I’m lucky to be here wearing pants? Why doesn’t my child love to read like that child? The comparisons can go on and on.
Recently I found myself questioning my own abilities as a mother. I reflected on how I spent the last 20 years raising our children, and began to feel guilty for all the things I should have done differently. If I had continued to think about the mistakes, and the things I wish I had known (like how great Dawn dish detergent is for cleaning everything) then I could have one massive pity party raging inside my head. Instead, I started to think of all the ways we can all become better mothers to our children, and to other children as well.
Here are 3 things you can do right now to become a better mother at any stage in your life:
Invest in Your Relationship With Jesus
Raising children is quite a spiritual battle, and in order to protect you should arm yourself with the word of God. There are many things that will come against your children, and there are many lessons we will need to teach them as they grow. You can prepare yourself to deal with these things by getting closer to Jesus. Pray with Him daily and ask Him to protect your children. Ask Him to give you the wisdom and discernment you need when the moment is right. Working on a better relationship with Jesus will also give you joy in the difficult times, and you may find rest and comfort in Him when nothing seems to be going right. The more time you invest in your relationship with Jesus, the easier this whole motherhood thing is.
Invest in Your Marriage
It’s sad that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, yet if you ask a child of divorce what they want most in the world most of them will tell you, “I want my parents to get back together.” It’s heartbreaking to hear a child say this, which is one reason why it is so important that as a mother, you should invest in your marriage. I know what you’re thinking though. I’ve run around all day long, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the needs of everyone else… can’t my husband just take care of himself? Yes, he probably can. But that doesn’t mean that he should take a backseat to the children.
My husband and I are in the stage of life where 3 of our 6 children are in college, 2 are in high school and one is in middle school. They require less of our time, and more of our emotional support, advice, and guidance. We’ve chased toddlers, changed diapers, and loaded up car seats for many years so, we feel ya. One of the best things we did to protect our marriage is to keep a date night, and enjoy an evening or a weekend without the kids. The second best thing was creating kid free time every night. We told the children that from 9pm on it was “Mom and Dad Time”. That meant they were to stay in their room or their living area, play quietly, or be in bed asleep (depending on the ages) so that we could have time alone together. Sometimes that time is when we talk, and other times we just watch a movie or catch up on ministry work. The point is that if you set boundaries, and show your children that you value your marriage, they will value it too.
Invest in Your Children
If you’re the mother of a baby or toddler you may be sick of hearing older women telling you to “enjoy this time” with your child because “it goes so fast”. There is a lot of truth to that, and we need to make the most of the time we have with our precious ones. If we had $1 for every time one of our children said, “Hey watch this!” we would be zillionaires. There are times when I’m tired and I’ve just sat down for the first time in hours, and here comes a sweet little child asking me to come see what they made for me, asking for a story, a hug, or to be tucked in. So many times I wanted to say, “Later honey…” but your children need your time. They need to see that you value them, and you care about them. Don’t let them interrupt your “Mom and Dad Time”, because believe me, they will try at first. But never take for granted those moments when they want you in their lives.
Likewise, as your child grows you should be having conversations with them that will help them grow into the man or woman God wants them to be. My children and I have great discussions over dinner and during car rides. Make sure to give your children your ear when you’re in the car because great conversations can be had there. Turn off the music, put away your phones, and ask them thought provoking questions like: Is it ever okay to tell a lie? What things can we see around us that affirm creationism? How often do you pray and seek God about your own lives? Have you ever seen an angel? Who can name the 12 tribes of Israel?
If you invest in these three areas, I believe that you will not only become a better mother, but you’ll also become a better wife and friend.
Hebrews 13:4 (NIV) Marriage should be honored by all…
1 Corinthian 10:31 (NIV) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Proverbs 6:4 (NIV) Parents do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.