Encouragement for your motherhood journey
As moms, we can be hard on ourselves. This is true for us Christian moms as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered if I even have a clue what I’m doing. I question whether God should have blessed me with two such awesome kiddos. Am I honoring Him? Am I being a good mother to them?
I do know I’m doing my best, and I’m showing up every single day. Having been raised by a good, Christian mom, I have some insight as to what it looks like. And through the 13 years I’ve been a mom myself, I’ve learned a bit of what good mothering looks like.
None of us get it right all the time. We fall short. But those times give us a chance to model grace to our children, including what giving ourselves grace looks like. (Ouch! That’s a challenge for us when we are so good at giving ourselves a hard time!) And we keep at it. Motherhood never stops.
Check out these five characteristics of good mothering as a Christian mom. Give yourself some credit where it’s due and challenge yourself to improve where you need to. Through it all, love your kids and love God. You’ve got this, mama!
We can spend a lot of time with our children and still not be present with them. Our kiddos need our love and attention. Good mothering means finding ways to focus on your children and nothing else. We need to be intentional about disconnecting from other things (hello, electronics!) and focusing on our children. They don’t always need our focus, but they do need to know we are truly listening to them.
One strategy that’s worked well for our family is giving each of our two kiddos two nights a week dedicated to them. After our family prayer and reading time, one child gets to hang with my husband and me solo for about 30 minutes. We focus completely on that child. It’s been a great way to intentionally be present and connect with our children.
Most Christian moms have heard the verse from Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (NIV) We want to start our children off well both in their faith and in life in general. Raising our children to love God, respect themselves and respect others is important.
In order to do that, our kiddos need boundaries. Boundaries actually help our children feel safe and allow them to grow in a healthy way. Set rules and boundaries — and enforce them. My husband and I made a pact when we first had children to not use empty threats. If we are going to tell our kids they’ll have a consequence for a misbehavior, it’s one we must be willing to follow through on.
And, honestly, sometimes good mothering means we have to say “no,” even when we don’t really want to because it’s the best decision for our child. I have this trouble sometimes even in small ways like when my son begs to read another chapter in the “Wings of Fire” series we’re reading together. I want to find out what happens, too, but I also know he needs enough sleep to have a good following day. So, I say “no.”
Ah, patience. Good mothering means being patient, which can be easier said than done! Whether our children are being challenging or we are just out of sorts, patience can be hard to come by. But, we want to be patient and grace-filled parents. So, we need strategies in place to help us during the difficult times.
One of the things I often do is take a deep breath and repeat the first part of 1 Corinthians 13:4 to myself: “Love is patient. Love is kind.” (NIV) Seriously. It helps me refocus and get outside of myself. There are other times when I get old school rapper with it based on a meme I once saw that said, “Love is patient. Love is kind. Ya’ll gonna make me lose my mind. Up in here! Up in here!”
Listening to Christian worship music throughout the day also helps me. It’s easier to be patient when I have Jesus music playing. Find a strategy that works for you. Our children need us to be patient with them because they are learning and growing. They’re going to mess up — just like we do! Our patience and understanding will go a long way in helping them feel loved and valued.
I’m a planner through and through. However, I’ve learned a lot about flexibility in motherhood. A lot. I’m a decade out from newborn days, but I still remember how out of control life feels with a baby. Just when you think you can predict the baby’s schedule, it changes. Or right as everyone is ready to leave the house, you end up having to change a dirty diaper.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is let go of our plans and expectations. Living with chronic illnesses taught me this lesson, but motherhood has driven it home. Being flexible when plans change also allows our kids to see what it looks like to keep moving forward.
Over spring break this year, for instance, we had plans to go to a national park. A big storm went through the area two days prior, and the park was closed for the day our first tour was scheduled. The second choice we made also ended up being closed. But, our third choice option ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip that we wouldn’t have even done without being flexible. (We got to feed kangaroos!)
(Check out more family travel woes in this post about our tent camping failures!)
Model good behavior.
Our kids are watching and learning from everything we do and say. They learn how to act and react based on how our actions and reactions. Good mothering involves modeling good behavior and values. If we don’t want our children to call each other names, then we shouldn’t call anyone names either. If we want our children to encourage each other, then we should encourage those around us. We want our children to have the tools they need to live productive, faith-filled lives as adults. One of the best ways we can help teach them is by modeling that to them.
Choosing our words wisely is also incredibly important. Proverbs 31:26 says this about how a virtuous woman should talk, “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (NIV) I try to choose my words wisely. As an introvert who tends to think before she speaks, I am pretty decent at this. But, I’m not perfect. And those times are ideal for me to model what apologizing looks like.
Good mothering requires grace.
None of us are perfect moms. We all fall short. However, knowing what good mothering looks like and striving to achieve it is exactly what we should be doing. One bad moment doesn’t make you a bad mom. It doesn’t define you. Pray about and learn from your mistakes, then move forward. Give yourself grace, because God gives it freely to you.
Just keep going, mama. You are the perfect mom for your kiddos!