Friday, May 28, 2010

Advice from someone who blinked

If I Could Be a Young Mom Again
- Mary May Larmoyeux

As I peeked in on our sleeping 2-year-old grandson recently, I thought, You look just like your daddy did!

It seems like yesterday when our grown son was the toddler; I was the young mom checking on him during a mid-day nap.

Sometimes I wonder, What would I do differently if I could somehow be that young mother again ... knowing what has taken me decades to learn?

Well, I think I would slow down the pace of life and not be so involved in outside activities. I would organize more family nights where we just hung out together without any agenda. I would play a few more games and sit on the deck more often as a family, watching shooting stars or fireflies light the night sky. And I'd ask more questions because I'd realize that sin is the natural bent for a child until he knows Jesus personally.

I asked some other grandmothers what they would do differently if they could somehow turn back the hands of time and be a young mother again. Here's what they said:

I’d have spent more guilt-free time with my kids lying in the grass picking out cloud animals, playing board games on rainy days, or making a mess creating some work of art in the kitchen. Those are the times I remember, not how clean the bathtub was.

I would connect my children more closely to their grandparents. Looking back, I wish I had made it a greater priority to make the trek “over the highway and through the freeway to grandmother's house.” Grandparents can expand a child's view of the world so much “grander” than a parent, just by their life experiences.

I wish I had taught my children more about their heritage ... to help them see that who they have become is partially a result of what has gone before them. There is so much more to know than where relatives came from. What was it like to live in a particular country or neighborhood or home? I think, had I studied my parents more, I would have been better able to teach my kids about them. For instance, it was just before my dad died that I learned he loved to sing as a young boy/man and was in an a cappella choir throughout his school years. It gave me a new insight to him as an elderly man who was always humming or listening to music. There is so much more depth to my parents that will be lost forever because I failed to prospect for the value of the experience.

I would stop and read to/with them a lot more often and would enjoy simple times, like tending a garden, rather than resenting the request as an intrusion in the list of things I needed to get done.

I would share the love of the Lord and not just the rules of good behavior. I think I often confused compliance with understanding.

I wish that I had relaxed and enjoyed my little children more instead of trying to make everything “perfect” for them . . . the years go so fast!

I would pray more purposefully for the development of their character and their comprehension of the Lord, not just for the Lord's hand in crisis situations.

I'd invest more time in learning how to be a better steward of my time and money so I could teach my children to be better stewards.

I'd spend more time reading the Bible and praying. As a young mom, I sometimes got too busy with my housework and family and met with God at the end of the day when I was too tired to concentrate.

I would have more one-on-one times with the kids—taking short trips around our city and state, just making special memories.

I would include them in volunteering around our city and let them know about all the things we can do to help others. I would also ask them to join me in making and delivering food and crafts to shut-ins, the sick, and those less fortunate than we were.

I would give myself permission to not use the same approach with each child. I thought that using the same approach was being fair and not showing favoritism. However, I’ve learned that each child is unique and that they mature at different ages. So, the rules for one may not necessarily be the rules for another (for example the age to start dating, driving, the setting of curfew times, etc.). The “rules” need to be adaptable according to each child’s maturity and willingness to accept responsibility.

I'd be patient and make pleasant memories with my children so they wouldn't remember all the times I was in a hurry, or mad, or unhappy and discontent. Instead they'd remember a mom who was patient, kind, and loving with them.

During the teen years I was dealing with disrespect or being ignored, and I allowed that to stifle me. I wish I had gone into their rooms then at bedtime and told them how much I loved them, asked how I could pray, and hugged them.

I would have more humor in my home. Humor is like flour in a recipe and it brings it all together.

God sure teaches mothers a lot as they raise their children!

While it's impossible for any grandmother to go back in time and raise her now grown children again, young moms, you are raising your children right now.

So, as one grandmother suggested, "Run and play with your kids. Be a child again. Your dirty house will be there tomorrow, but the children will soon be gone."

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.
—Proverbs 19:20 (NIV)

*Many thanks to Arlene, Betty, Carole, Judi, Judy, Karen, Kathy F., Kathy H, Linda, Margo, Mary D., Mary S., Mary T., Rita, Toni

Mary May Larmoyeux is a writer and editor for FamilyLife. She is the author of My Heart’s at Home: Encouragement for Working Moms, co-author of There’s No Place Like Home: Steps to Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom, and co-author of the Resurrection Eggs® Activity Book.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

FamilyLife Moments with You

I receive an e-mail from FamilyLife entitled Moments with You. They are very encouraging e-mails. As I was clearing out my inbox, I came across this one that I felt was to good not to share!

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23 NIV)

I’m telling you—men just have it easier. Here are some examples someone sent me. When you’re a man . . .
• Your last name stays put.
• The garage is all yours.
• Wedding plans take care of themselves.
• You can never be pregnant.
• Wrinkles add character.
• The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected.
• You’ve got one mood all the time. Usually.
• Phone conversations are over in thirty seconds flat.
• A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
• You can open all your own jars.
• You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. Usually.
• If someone forgets to invite you somewhere, he can still be your friend.
• Your underwear is $8.95—for a three-pack!
• The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
• You only have to shave your face and neck.
• You can play with toys all your life.
• One wallet and one pair of shoes—one color for all seasons.
• You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
• You can “do” your nails with a pocket knife

See what I mean? So the next time your wife seems too complicated for you, be patient with her. You didn’t marry a man. You married her because she is different.
Realize that her life comes with a lot of stuff you don’t have to put up with. Take the time to genuinely listen and understand because God created her as a gift for you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mealtime prayers

I’ve never really been great at implementing mealtime prayers. I’ve asked friends for their ideas on praying at the dinner table, but after utilizing their suggestions for a couple of days, I find myself simply longing for a moment of peace I know will come once food is set before my whining children. When my husband is home and we sit down as a family for dinner, he often prays (as my dad did when I was growing up). Every now and then, my husband will ask our children if they want to pray.

One day, our 4-year-old said she wanted to pray and quoted a Bible verse she had learned. “Give thanks to the Lord… who made the great lights… sun… moon and stars...” (Psalm 136:3, 7-9) “Evening, morning, and noon I cry out…” (Psalm 55:17) is another verse my preschooler prays from her heart to God before we eat. This expression of gratitude to God fills my heart as the prayers fill our home.

It can be a lot of fun to recall Bible verses on thanksgiving to offer God at the table. Although we do not use this routine continually, I am grateful my children can recall verses they have hid in their hearts when we do. Today my daughter recalled another Bible verse about the wise men. “When they saw star, they were overjoyed!” (Matthew 2:10) It may not be a prayer of thanksgiving but I believe these moments given the expression God is looking for.