Talking with someone the other day and she asked me “Do you think you’ll have more children?”
“Jack’s not a baby anymore.” I said.
“But you’re so busy and the children are so wearying. Do you really think you should? (with a subtext of can you handle it?)”
” Oh,” I said , ” It’s true the children can be wearying at times and at times drive me nuts, and I know I’m not always as kind and patient as I should be. But the truth is I enjoy my children! It’s not just that I love seeing how they develop and grow, I really like being around them! If we had more children I expect I would enjoy them as well!”
The conversation moved on…
In the past couple of weeks I’ve had several opportunities to go on play dates and outings with other mothers and children. These mothers are from a range of backgrounds and religious beliefs, from crunchy mamas whose children have never had a “non-natural” medication to those whose children have their own electronic devices for reading and playing games! Some believe in childhood innocence while others would be strong proponents of the concept of original sin. All of them spend themselves every day for their children, feeding, clothing, correcting and guiding.
It’s all good mothering, although the styles differ. Here’s the thing I notice though: the children whose parents (and especially the mother) take time to enjoy their children are happier, more willing to listen, and in general nicer to be around for other children and grown-ups than those for whom the majority of the interactions are corrections, or guidance. The mother who hovers and frets, rather than encouraging and enjoying, creates a child who is unsure of their acceptance and therefore will try different things in order to gain acceptance.
Here’s the thing: if we as mothers are constantly measuring ourselves and our children we miss the point of it all! Child-bearing and child-rearing is part of the abundant grace of God in the world and one of the finest ways in which we imitate our Creator and Cherisher. Think about it- if God parented us the way we often parent our children by simply providing for our basic needs and disciplining us when we failed to measure up, would we believe that He truly loved us or desired our good?
Yet, Scripture says plainly again and again that He delights in us, takes joy in us and rejoices over us! That He delights in giving us not just what we need but the desires of our hearts. Shouldn’t we mother that way? And how can we know truly what our children desire in their hearts if we do not consciously choose to enjoy them and their joys?
We need to stop and examine ourselves. Have our days with our children become simply feeding and clothing and educating and training without delighting? If they have, we are presenting a false picture of God to them- and we need to repent. I say this not to bring guilt to anyone, but to remind us that our children are a blessing and a gift and we need to understand that this does mean only when they are behaving well!
I have heard people say “Children are a blessing and if they are not being a blessing they need to be disciplined until they are a blessing.” Not so! Scripture says nothing about children being a blessing only when they are behaving well! It says “Behold, children are a heritage (or blessing)” “Behold” has a strong connotation of “looking with wonder” and when we do that, we enjoy the good gift of children and do indeed find them to be the blessing they are.