I loved/love being a mother. I especially loved being a stay-at-home mother. I will not be able to retire as early or as comfortably as might have been possible if I had entered the full-time workforce earlier in life. But I so loved being home with our two boys that I cannot regret that choice. I went to work when our youngest was 12 (or was it 13?), but chose a career in education so I could be on the typical school schedule. I put them first. I don’t regret it.
I was a high-achiever in high school, and always assumed I’d be a working mom – if I was a mom at all. Then something happened. God softened my heart, and my husband (Howard) and I had two precious baby boys by the time I was 26. I chose to stay home. I chose to stay home even after Howard and I had close calls with divorce and I realized that I had no marketable skills. I chose to stay home even when we qualified for the WIC food program. I chose to stay home even when we couldn’t afford a second car, there was practically nothing in savings, and little money for putting towards retirement. And to top it off, I chose to homeschool. It was a gloriously difficult season in life, staying home with our children, and one I will cherish until I die.
Our two boys are now grown men with families – and babies – of their own. I am proud of them. But I also miss them. They both live hundreds of miles away, and I don’t get to see them nearly enough. Of course, I don’t get to see those precious grandbabies (or my dearly loved daughters-in-law) nearly enough either. For all these reasons and many more, I am celebrating Mother’s Day this year, by sharing five lessons of mommy-hood.
- Enjoy every season with your children. Cuddly babies, curious toddlers, engaging elementary children, and mouthy teens. Each stage is precious, and passes far too quickly. I loved being a mom to babies, to toddlers, to teens, and all other stages.
- Talk to your children, even when they aren’t talking to you. Children’s emotions are fickle, and change faster than the weather. Keep talking when they’re mad, pouting, grounded, or focused on friends or school or sports. They can’t unhear what you say, even if they want to, and your words have an impact – sometimes smaller, sometimes larger, but always an impact.
- Choose your children over your screens. When my boys were young, there were no smart phones, and home computers were just coming on the scene (and we had little money for them). It was easier to manage to say no to a TV show or a video than it is today to say no to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or Netflix. But no matter how hard it is, choose your children before your screens – you’ll never regret it. I don’t remember any TV shows I watched way back when my children were little, but I do remember reading to them, building pillow forts, and picnicking in the living room when the rain just wouldn’t quit for days.
- Love their father. Yes, even when it’s hard, even when you think you ‘deserve to be happy,’ or even when you feel like all your life adds up to is a pile of broken promises and broken dreams. Love is hard. Choose love anyway. It won’t always be hard, and the rewards of loving through the hard times are rich.
- Believe in your children. They are full of potential – see the best possible future for them and encourage them to reach for the stars. Pray for their future careers and families. Pray for them to make tough choices that might mean hard, but better, roads to follow. Don’t always rescue them; let them flounder and figure out some of the lessons of life on their own. But never stop rooting for them. Be their biggest cheerleader.
Those of my top 5 – what are your hard-earned lessons?