It’s official. I am now the mom of a teenager! Seriously, how’d that happen?!
In looking back over the past 13 years that I’ve been a mom, I’ve realized that I’ve learned quite a bit about parenting and life in general. So I compiled a list of 13 lessons I’ve learned along the way. As in all things, some came easily and others, well, not so much.
13 Lessons Motherhood Has Taught Me
1. Motherhood really is the hardest job you’ll ever have. Before I became a mom I’d hear people say that, particularly around Mother’s Day, but I just thought it was said to make the moms feel good. Now I know how silly I was. You are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
2. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, they’ll turn on you. This is especially true of babies and younger children, but even the older ones will keep you guessing. It’s nothing personal, they’re just evolving and changing into their own unique self.
3. Give them room to grow. As much as possible, let them make their own decisions. This is not to say that you don’t have any input or even the final say. I just mean to treat your children with respect and consider their thoughts and wishes as well. Remember, you’re raising adults. You want your children to learn how to make good decisions now, rather than when the stakes are much higher.
4. Let them fail. I know it’s hard, but it’s necessary. You want to shield them from every unpleasant thing out there, but that’s not life. It’s not the real world. Letting them fail now, under your care can be a good opportunity for you to show them how to deal with defeat. Failures give our children a chance to build character by persevering. It’s also a good time to teach them how to do a little self introspection and maybe a little reevaluating too.
5. When you find a trait or quality you don’t like in one of your kids, remember that they’re only a reflection of you. This should work to humble us as we realize that these traits we see in our children, others have seen in us for many years without us realizing.
6. Mother, don’t smother. This will not go over very well as they get older. I can’t help but to think of the mother-in-law on the TV show, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Obviously she was an exaggerated version of a helicopter mom, but none the less your goal is to raise independent thinking children who can run/lead a household one day. Besides, do you really want to be washing their clothes when they’re in college? I say if they’re smart enough to go to college, they’re smart enough to learn how to do their own laundry!
7. Remember that they belong to God. I have a tendency to get carried away with my thoughts. My two oldest children like to take walks around the neighborhood. They talk and laugh and just bond. It’s really cute, but honestly, I get a little worried sometimes. We live in a crazy world and I’m well aware of how evil people can be. But having kids has been great for strengthening my faith in God. Ultimately, God is their protector, not me.
8. Having kids will stretch you. And no, I’m not talking about stretch marks. I’m talking about the stretching that takes you out of your comfort zone and into territory that is foreign. I’m a complete and total introvert. Having kids has pushed me into situations that I would not have otherwise found myself in. For the most part it’s been a good thing and I’ve formed close friendships with other moms as a result.
9. Children are not necessarily mini clones of you. When you have a kid that is the polar opposite in personality than you, life can get interesting. Our first temptation is to conform this child into becoming the person we think they should be. But maybe God is using this child to refine you and build certain character traits that you may be lacking. We need to remember that God is the potter and we are the clay.
10. You can’t always be a yes mom. We are called to be parents first, not friends. The purpose of childhood is to train young sinners to be responsible truthful adults who walk with God. To bring this transformation to fruition, we will often find we have to be the heavy in dealing with our children. This means having to say no often and making many unpopular decisions.
11. I’ve learned to appreciate and value the leadership role God has given to my husband. Raising children I am continuously confronted with choices and decisions that have to be made, some not so important and some very important. I’ve found comfort and blessing in putting some of these decisions on the shoulders of my husband instead of having to bear them myself.
12. They don’t need you to be Martha Stewart–they just need love. When guilt and doubt start creeping in because we’ve eaten breakfast for dinner two times in a week and my floors haven’t been mopped in recent history, I remind myself that I’m raising children, not a house. I don’t say this as an excuse to slack off, but it’s important that we keep housework and meal planning in check. I’ve seen these things become the litmus test by which successful homemaking is measured by.
13. Mistakes happen. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning. Our children have an amazing capacity to move forward. Haven’t you noticed that adults are the ones who hold on to things in the past? Children don’t do that. They deal with the here and now a lot more than we do. We’re either too busy dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Let’s take a cue from our kids and stay present!
Jillian is a homeschooling mom and lives in NY with her husband and 8 children. She blogs at Olive Plants & Cornerstones where she strives to encourage other moms who are parenting in the trenches. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and her favorite place to be, Pinterest.