I was talking to a friend today about VBS and because we are moms and we can multitask we also talked about a hundred other things too. I know...we are genius.
In the middle of our conversation we started talking about how quickly our kids are growing up...like so quick that the words..."Even so, Lord Jesus come"... came out of one of our mouths. We were talking about the guilt most moms....even us, feel when we aren't able or don't choose to play with our kids or do something with them when we have a spare minute or two ...or maybe even an hour.
Let me be clear...I'm not talking about neglect. I'm not talking about leaving your kids for hours and hours and not providing for them properly. I'm not talking about being an absentee parent.
I'm talking about the obsession of occupying every spare minute of our kids time. I'm talking about feeling false guilt when we aren't entertaining their every waking moment with games and movies and shopping and amusement parks and travel and sports. It seems in our efforts to be good parents we've equated good with entertainment...with busyness....with an unbalanced perspective on what's good for our children and with a distorted and yes, even unbiblical view of parenting.
Growing up my mom was the epitome of a homemaker...she worked in our home everyday to be sure it was well taken care of, our yard was landscaped due to her green thumb and she managed to raise three productive kids, was the caretaker for my down syndrome uncle and worked and served in our church and community. What she didn't do....was entertain us 24/7. She was a wife and mom and her responsibilities in those two areas she took very seriously but I don't remember her playing blocks or dolls or Lego's or spending her waking hours stressing over how we were going to spend our summers.
What she did do....Once a month she made the trek to SAM's to buy groceries. SAM's was about 45 minutes from our house and most of the time I accompanied her on these trips. We'd do the shopping, just the two of us and then we'd stop at McDonald's and buy and large fry to split and two drinks. I remember it like it was yesterday....Driving the navy blue Chrysler Fifth Avenue through the drive through....sharing the fries on the long drive home and sipping my coca-cola. I remember us talking and I remember her making me feel so important and special during those trips. I remember conversations we had like it was just yesterday. It cost $2 and 1.5 hours roundtrip. These SAM's trip transformed my adolescent years.
I remember her service towards others....and how she allowed us kids to be a part....from senior citizen trips to Helen, Ga...and helping at the crisis pregnancy center and coordinating our nurseries at church. But it wasn't just her....she encouraged us to serve too. As we grew older, I remember my brother and I both willingly being involved in bus ministry and the homeless shelter....and now I realize that it's largely due to the example she set for us. She showed us the joy you receive by serving others. And these are my special memories....and now they've become mom lessons. Lessons that speak louder than her basketball game attendance or vacations....although they are memories that fill my heart with much fondness. Those memories of how she made me feel....important, special, valuable, loved, cherished, cared for....those are the memories that I want my kids to feel towards me...and towards the Lord.
And I know all kids receive and give love differently but at the end of the day I don't want it to be filled with so much activity that my kids can't hear my heart towards them or God's heart to them. I don't want them to look back on childhood wondering if I loved them because they were smart of athletic or if God loves them just because they are "good". I want there to be memorable moments when they heard the words from me...."You're amazing...not because of the goals you scored or the grades you made or the speed of your pitch. You're a fantastic kid because you're created and fashioned by a God who loves you and wants you to know Him!" After all...if they learn that lesson, haven't they learned the most important lesson?
So if you're a mom like me, trying to figure out how to make the most of long summer days and the too hot days of July...maybe we can join together to commit to have those sweet talks and conversations and maybe we can give that one on one attention with a cold ice cream cone or a coca-cola or evening a large fry from McDonald's. Maybe we can agree to slow down..just a tad....and remind our kids that they are special and unique and individual...created by a God who desires a relationship with them. Maybe we can model loving Him and loving others. And maybe we can serve together with them...once or twice this summer so they can see the world is bigger than just their little circle...so they can see what's important goes way beyond good grades, busy schedules, the World Cup, and the safety of their own nest.
Maybe we can learn this mom lesson together.