It is that time of year again, time for mom’s everywhere to stay up way too late turning a shoebox into a Valentine’s Day masterpiece (after dropping serious cash at Hobby Lobby for art supplies.)
All We Want is Peace… and Netflix
Moms are tired, they have glue in their hair, and all they want is Netflix and some peace and quiet. Yet, they keep on, one sparkly heart sticker at a time, sustained by the mental image of their child walking into class, box held high in triumph.
Each year, when my kids were in elementary school, the teachers would beg parents at orientation to allow their children to complete their own projects.
“We want to see their work, not yours!” they would say to us.
“It is okay if it is messy,” they would reassure.
And I, like a naive, overworked mother of five was all over that.
“Yes, yes, child. Take the stickers, take the glue, mommy needs Netflix.
School Project Makeover, Valentines Edition
The next day, when we pulled into the carpool line, I watched the joy and pride slide right off my child’s face as a parade of extravagant Valentine’s Day boxes made their way into the school. (I remember one that was made from hat boxes, and was tiered like a wedding cake. It was almost as big as the child who was carrying it.)
Mothering is hard stuff. It took a lot of courage, and some serious irrational mom-guilt, to look at my kid in that moment and tell her I was proud of her for doing her own work and that she had nothing to feel be ashamed of. Over Mothering, like identity theft, is no joke. It is a rare mother who escapes the trap. I certainly did not. Sure, I usually managed it with projects, but I fell into it in other ways.
I tried too hard to help them navigate friendships at times.
I did too much of the work around the house when they were teens, because “they had a lot on them.”
I said things like, “Is that what you are going to wear today?”
I told my 21-year-old she was “crazy” to consider going to China to teach when she graduates this spring. “Do you WANT TO DIE of Coronovirus? How could someone so smart not understand the word PANDEMIC?” I asked her.
Jacob and Esau’s Meddling Mom
All of these things make me think of Rebekah. The book of Genesis tells us that Rebekah was the mother of twin boys, Jacob and Esau. It also paints the picture of a mom who was a world-class meddler. Rebekah had a soft spot for one of her twins, Jacob.
Okay, he was her favorite.
His brother, Esau, was bigger, tougher, manlier, and her husband, Isaac’s favorite. Poor little Jacob was born second, which meant he got less of everything. Surely, she just felt sorry for him and was trying to help.
As Isaac neared death, Rebekah’s anxiety peaked. What would happen to poor little Jacob after his father died and the firstborn, Esau, got everything? So, she helped her precious son steal Isaac’s blessing away from Esau. I am sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but as it so often does when we help too much, it backfired.
Esau was so enraged that Jacob was forced to run for his life. Rebekah lost Jacob over it.
Struggle Can Be a Gift
Nobody loves a kid like her mom. That is why it is the hardest thing in the world to watch them make mistakes and struggle. It just feels so wrong. I think that is why I forget, over and over again, that the chance to struggle, and even fail, can be some of the greatest gifts I ever give my kids.
Pushing through the hard times grows valuable strengths in them…
- Mental toughness
- True, and abiding, confidence
So, how about it, mom? Let’s start small. Hand your child the glue and the stickers, and go turn on Netflix. After all, aren’t you tired?
You already have a heavy load, give both of you a gift and let your child carry his.
Then, look him in the eyes and tell him how proud you are of his hard work, grit, and perseverance. Warn him that other kids are going to show up with work that isn’t theirs, and he will recognize it on sight. Remind him that is none of his business. It is not to envy, or even judge, because we are all learning around here.
Get the Story!
God has a lot of compassion for moms. Read about it in “Beauty for Ashes,” Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence (Thomas Nelson). Get your copy here.