I love being a mom. Long ago, I had pictures and stories in my mind of the kind of mom I’d be before I ever had kids. I played out the scenes of my kids’ childhood in my mind, and in them my kids were always clean, always dressed in the cutest outfits, and they were always perfectly happy and polite wherever we went. And almost none of our real-life scenes have turned out that way! Real life childhood for my boys is usually messy, sweaty, and even hurried. They usually are wearing clothes that they picked out themselves because mommy is still trying to find her own socks (lately we’ve had some interesting choices because mommy took out the fall clothes and mixed them with summer clothes…gotta love weather in the South). And while my kids are mostly happy, there have been several instances that involve crying (both kids and mom), fussing (both kids and mom), and impoliteness (well…I guess both kids and mom). I’m not the mom that I dreamed I would be, which sometimes bothers me. However, there is a joy and a fulfillment that comes with motherhood that is greater than anything I could’ve ever dreamed up. The joy of their smiles and giggles. The peace when they are praying their sincere prayers of childlike faith to the God who created them. The courage that comes from the God who created me to be the mom He created me to be.
A while back, there were some moments when I realized that I was missing out on some of the joys, the peace, and the fulfillment of this wonderful journey. It’s something that happens to a lot of moms. How does it happen? I think Satan throws darts at us right where he knows we will hurt the most. Satan is a liar, so some of his best darts are lies. And where is a mom’s most vulnerable spot?
He is lying to me, putting false pressure on me that ultimately takes away from my kids. And he’s lying to other moms, too. So, after talking and listening with my friends and my heavenly Father, I’ve come to see through the lies that are taking away my memories and my beautiful moments that I have with my sons. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you see that these lies are present in your own motherhood journey, by all means, throw them out and get your joy of being a mom back! Don’t let anymore memories pass you by!
Lie #1: My Phone Is More Important Than My Kids
Now I know what you’re thinking…That’s not me. I’d never think my phone is more important than my kids.
Really, though? This came down hard on me when I realized I was literally looking at my phone more than I was looking at my kids during the day. Outside in the yard, what started as a “Just let me check my email for a sec” turned into checking emails, responding to emails, looking at Facebook, and texting my sister. After all, the kids were playing with each other. Not me. They didn’t care, right? Except that they did care.
The fact that they were yelling “Mommy, watch this!” and I kept saying “Hold on just one more minute!” showed that they did care that I was out there. And it showed that I was more interested in what my phone had to offer than what my kids were doing at the moment. I think the Lord whispered to my soul that day and reminded me that two miracles were blooming right in front of my eyes while I ignored them by looking at my phone.
I did put my phone away.
One of my friends had a similar experience, when she and her little three-year-old sat on the couch to watch a movie together. The little girl looked up at her mommy and said, “Do you want me to go get your phone for you?” She had always thought her daughter didn’t notice her looking at the phone during their time together.
They notice. They notice when we are not listening to them because we are engrossed in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever else our world can think of next.
Now I’m not in any way saying that these things are bad. I happen to enjoy a good recipe or craft idea from Pinterest myself. Without it, my family would be eating tuna sandwiches every night! But the problem for me came when I was spending more time with the internet than I was with my children. I was missing out on some wonderful memories because my face was in my phone.
Lie #2: My Kids Have to Be the Best in School or Sports
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with requiring your child to do his or her best in whatever they do. Hard work and not quitting is important. But when a child loses his joy in playing soccer because he’s got to do drills every night, or another child loses her love of reading because she’s required to do hours of homework each evening (and, yes, I’m a teacher), the good memories get lost in the work and the drills and the tears and the frustration. When life consists of practice, practice, and more practice, whether it’s reading, football, math, or piano, the joy of childhood is gone.
Playing sports is fun. Whatever happened to playing just for the fun of it? To learning that you won’t always be the best one? That at some point, someone will probably beat you, but that you’ll still have fun? How will our kids know how to handle this if they are constantly drilled to be the best?
Learning is extremely important. Every year at school, I have kids that struggle and kids that excel. With both types of children, I tell parents that after a small amount of practice, to be sure and let the kids just play at home. Yes, some kids have to do a little more work at home than others. But once the joy in that area is gone, students, parents, and teachers have a problem. If a child develops a dislike for learning early on, the journey through school is going to be very long and arduous.
There must be a balance, and I’ll admit that I’m still praying and studying to find that balance.
Lie #3: I Have to Get a Picture/Video of This
Oh, the glorious phone again. What would we do without it? This may sound like I’m contradicting myself, thinking that my obsession with taking pictures and videos is taking away my memories of my kids’ childhood, but here is what happens to me.
Instead of enjoying the moments as they happen, I’m digging in my purse for my phone to get a picture. Or I’m holding my arm in the air (and thinking about how my arm’s getting tired) to get a good video. Or I’m making the kids “stop right here for a minute” to get one picture, that turns into two, then three, then four. Or I’m deleting old pictures to make room for my new ones!
I think that the memories of really special moments in our minds can be more vivid and colorful than any picture. And unlike pictures, which fade or get lost, these memories stay preserved in our hearts forever.
Lie #4: I Can Take Them to Church Later
I recently spoke with a friend who didn’t get involved in the local church until her kids were teenagers. She said that they always planned to go to church, but ballgames, vacations, and school work always had to come first. She’s grateful that her entire family is involved with the church now, and that they’ve asked Jesus into their lives, but she feels like she missed out on some wonderful things when her children were younger.
It’s not an actual lie that you can start going to church later on. You can. But I think the devil throws that out there for parents who are struggling with a busy life as one thing that can take a back seat for awhile. We’ll go in the summer, once we don’t have homework. We’ll go when ball season is over. We’ll go after our vacation. In my friend’s case, this turned into years. Years that her kids grew up without hearing the Word of God, without hearing timeless hymns of praise and new songs of worship, without studying and learning life truths about being a disciple of Christ. Years of priceless memories that she can’t get back.
“I’ve got these memories of vacations and ballgames and great report cards, and they’re good. But I won’t know what it was like to see them singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ on the stage, or saying bible verses that they learned in Sunday School.”
Your kids may be past the point of childhood, too, but those years aren’t unredeemable. You can always start now! Find a church that feels like home to you, and get involved! You won’t be sorry, and you’ll make some wonderful memories.
Lie #5: My Kids Have to Have the “Stuff”
This lie has wreaked havoc on my life, my kids’ life, my wallet, and my once-clean house. From the time they were babies, I have gotten my boys so much “stuff” that they don’t even know what to play with now. They don’t know how to clean up their rooms, because there is too much stuff around to clean. We’ve run out of space to keep all of the stuff. When I bought certain items, I had these fabricated “pre-memories” of what it would be like for my kids to have it in their lives, to play with it and enjoy it. Most of the things that they have last a few days tops before getting sucked into the pile of stuff.
A wonderful preschool teacher that I know mentioned the other day that her children who may not have as many toys at their disposal in their homes play better than the kids who have tons of toys. “They know how to use what they have,” she said. “They know how to not take it for granted and enjoy it.”
This makes sense. It’s hard to make memories with something when you can’t find it because it’s piled under a mountain of other things. It’s hard to use and appreciate something when you know you’ll probably get something bigger and better soon anyway.
I’m through with the “stuff”, by the way. We’ve donated, thrown away, and put away lots of our stuff for later use. We feel like we can breathe now. My boys found toys they forgot they had. They played with a set of little matchbox cars and trucks for an hour the other night, and they didn’t miss their other stuff for a minute. It was so fun to watch them and play with them.
Satan is such a liar. He thrives to destroy us. However, the bible says that while he prowls around on this earth, hissing lies at us, our God is greater. “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4
It’s not too late to redeem the memories that Satan is trying to steal from you and your children. God has wonderful things planned for you. He chose you to be the mother of your children for a reason…He entrusted them to your care and He will daily equip you to raise them in truth.
Let’s build each other up, moms. Let’s help each other to throw these lies out and to make some beautiful memories with our children.
“Memories Without Warning” Words and Music by: Paige Givens, Copyright 2014