The One Thing I Hope My Children Learn From Me

This is what I want to tell you today. This is what I need to tell myself. 

Today my toddler, Eli had the flu. It came fast and strong and unexpected like it always does. He was in my lap when it finally showed itself, ending up all over my jeans, my shirt, my floors, and my hands were not thinking when they reached out to catch the brunt of it as I superman-carried him to the bathroom.

Colette has The Colic, and The Reflux. Which basically means she has The Cry Forever At Night. Or as Eli likes to say, "Colette cry all time!" 

Out of the mouths of babes. 

And she received her two month shots yesterday and seems to have yet to forgive me for it. 

The crocodile tears from the past two days sit in large puddles on my hardwood floors, with no time or energy to mop them up. 

I worry about Eli's temperature. If he's getting enough liquids or too many solids. I worry if Colette's chubby thighs were really chubby enough to protect her at least a little from the painful pricks of shots. I worry if I just gave her Autism, even though when I think long and rationally and remember my careful research in the past, I don't believe the tales, but I just can't shake the thought. 

I think about these past two days and remember that I haven't given Colette enough tummy time. I also wonder if I've stimulated her enough - there is only one toy hanging from her playmat after all - Eli has stolen the rest to "snuggle with." Speaking of being stimulated, I wonder if Eli is getting enough as well. The guilt creeps in a bit about the Daniel Tiger he watched today. But he was sick! That's my excuse today. And at least Daniel teaches good morals and people skills! That's my excuse all the other days. 

The thought of pre-school enters my mind for no other reason than I'm likely crazy to be thinking such thoughts. At first the thought seems amazing - One Less Need To Meet For A Few Hours A Day! - then my heart breaks - with guilt for thinking such thoughts. And probably because I remember a good mother's heart should be sad about her baby going to school. 

But secretly, mine is not. At least not today. 

The thoughts keep rolling through my mind, tripping over one another as I lay another towel down in Eli's crib, show him an old ice cream bucket and fake vomit into it as I try to teach him that's where it goes. Colette's cry plays soundtrack in the background as he giggles and fake gags into the bucket as well. I laugh on the outside but on the inside I know it'll never work. 

We've all heard the term the "trenches." It has likely become a bit cliche, overused in motherhood to where it no longer seems to mean anything to the hearer. And maybe that's for good reason. Maybe that's not. A post for another day perhaps.

But today I want to talk about something else. Today I need to tell you something. Something I need to tell myself. 

The days you wear vomit on your leggings, snot on your sleeve and yogurt in your hair, those are the trenches. And in that moment, the word "trenches" is anything but trite. 

And so here is what we mothers must remember. 

Here is what I need to remember.

If nothing else, I pray my children will see that I love Jesus. 

I worry about the after-affects of vaccinations. I stress over stimulation. I desire a clean and picked up house, a freshly vacuumed floor and to make elephant-shaped pancakes for breakfast. I think about reading aloud enough, giving breast milk long enough, and teaching the difference between sky and periwinkle blue. 

And sometimes, it sure looks a lot like I love those things. Because that is where my time, my thoughts, my efforts and my energy goes. 

But I love Jesus more. 

And I want my babies to know that!

If nothing else - I beg - at least that.

But often, I lose sight of what is important when I'm in the trenches, setting my gaze on singing the alphabet song over and over, planning Pinterest-perfect birthday parties, finding an all-natural cure to diaper rash, and researching the best ways to implement independent playtime. 

Yet even if I don't, the world will be sure to teach my children their ABC's and 123's. It will heal the diaper rash, throw the parties and teach them the independence. 

But the world will not teach them about Jesus. 

Or maybe it will, but it won't be truth. 

That is what the trenches are for - wading through the messy, mundane days and finding the meaningful, the miraculous. It is there, among the dirty laundry, full sinks and the Outrageous Orange and Inch Worm Green crayons. It sits in our homes in the form of tired eyes, hungry tummies, plastic toys and innocent questions, just waiting to be seen, talked about and focused on. 

It is these trenches that reveal God's gift of grace to us the most. It is in the bland everyday that we mothers can find the bright gospel of eternity come to life. It is in the dirty days of now that we live in the hope and promise of the clean and pure days to come.

There is meaning in the mundane. There is truth in the trenches.

It is these trying, wearing days that we reflect the truth of the gospel to our children.

We love them, because He first loved us. 

We will wash their dirty, because we have been made clean.

We will hold them, because we are being upheld.

We will always be there for them, because He is always there for us. 

We will carry them, because he is carrying us.  

It is these trench-filled days that I pray that if my children learn only one thing from me - just one thing - it is that their mother loved Jesus and showed them who he was each and every day of their lives.

Not they would remember me as a great cook, or a fabulous party thrower. Not as a fit mom, or a funny mom, or the mom that was always volunteering at their school, or always knew what to do what to do when they were sick, or never missed a game or a concert. 

Those things would only be a bonus; the icing on the cake of what I hope my children remember from me. What I hope that they would say, is when things got hard, she ran to the cross. When she was in the trenches, she trusted Jesus. That more than anything - more than them, more than daddy, more than anything this world had to offer, she loved Jesus. 

This is what I want to tell you today. This is what I need to tell myself. 

Show your children Jesus in the trenches.

Show them that you love him. 

This is what matters. This is all that matters. 

The world will demand to take care of the rest. But this. This is too precious. Too important to leave to the world to get wrong. 

So today, in these trenches, remember the truth: This is your chance to show them the meaning in the mundane. The miracle in the mess. 

It is your chance to teach them about Jesus. 

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  1. Yes! I'm realizing more and more that if I let all of these other burdens suck the joy out of my mothering, then my children won't see love for Jesus - they'll see a tired and stressed out mom burdened by fears and duty. It's been helpful to scale back lately and ask, "What does scripture tell me I need to accomplish as a mother? And is THAT what defines my days and energy?" I find that God's priorities line up much more with the things of the heart; discipline, training, teaching, and loving...yes those things play themselves out in practical ways, but those should be my focus and everything else is bonus. Usually God's priorities are my afterthoughts because all of my energy goes to the priorities that define a "good mom" in our culture. Love ya!

  2. Yes! It can be so easy to confuse what a good mom is according to culture or according to God! And I love the question you pose - GREAT question to ask yourself!

  3. Beautifully written and such an important message to us Moms. Thank you for this very important reminder. We have been going through a season of many "trenches" and love the encouraging messages of bloggers like yourself who keep me focused on the cross and what really matters.

  4. Thanks Nicole - I feel you on the trenches. And yes, it's so good that these days there are SO many resources out there for us to realign our focus and remember truth! I'm glad you were encouraged!