Nov 14

Not Her Best

2012 at 4:20 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood

As mothers we can sometimes feel overwhelmed because we think that, in addition to being an amazing mom, we should also be exceptional at something else, distinguishable from all the other moms out there by some trade or talent. We can be keenly, sometimes painfully, aware of our lack of specialized skill.

Many of us trained for a specific field of work only to leave it behind to come home with our baby; and then the field left us behind as we raised our children. We may see our husband excelling at his career or observe other women who seem to be exceptionally gifted at one thing or another, and because we haven’t distinguished ourselves in some way (we’ve been too busy cleaning toilets, running errands, reading children’s books, and pouring bowls of cereal), we wonder if we are really good at anything.

Twentieth century British author G.K. Chesterton has liberating insight for all mothers who feel pressure to excel in something besides caring for their children, husband, and home. In an essay entitled “The Emancipation of Domesticity” he observed that woman is a “general overseer” in the home, and as such, she must be able to do many things well—she shouldn’t have to worry about being “the best” at something.

“In other words, there must be in every center of humanity one human being upon a larger plan; one who does not ‘give her best,’ but gives her all….

The woman is expected to cook: not to excel in cooking, but to cook; to cook better than her husband who is earning [a living] by lecturing on botany or breaking stones….the woman is expected to tell tales to the children, not original and artistic tales, but tales—better tales than would probably be told by a first-class cook.

But she cannot be expected to endure anything like this universal duty if she is also to endure the direct cruelty of competitive or bureaucratic toil. Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker, but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests.

This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women

were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad”

My fellow moms, let’s embrace the “larger plan” ordained by our Creator. Let’s not worry about being the best, but eagerly give our all to the broad calling of motherhood.

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:27-29 ESV)

Nov 13

Momentary Motherhood

2012 at 2:02 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood

It is easy to become distracted by the constant demands of motherhood, but we must not lose sight of this fact: Our children are only young for a very brief time.

When my girls were little, it wasn’t always easy for me to wake up for those 2:00 a.m. feedings. Loneliness sometimes crept in when I missed an activity in order to put them to bed on time. I was eager to get them potty-trained and be done with the dirty diaper routine. Some days it felt as if that season would never end.

But frequently on trips to the grocery store a grandmother would stop to admire my little ones and leave me with this admonition: “Honey, enjoy them now because they grow up so quickly.”

How right those women were!

I was keenly aware of the fleetingness of childhood when my son Chad was born. At the time of his birth, Nicole was sixteen, Kristin was fifteen, and Janelle was eleven. By now experience had taught me to treasure each moment, for I knew he wouldn’t stay small very long.

The challenges of mothering seemed altogether insignificant this time around. Middle-of-the-night feedings weren’t drudgery. I hardly gave a moment’s thought to missing an activity. I certainly wasn’t in a hurry to potty-train my son. In fact, much to the chagrin of my three daughters, I did not tend to that task until he was almost four years old. (By that time, it only took one day to train him!).

Moms, you may be up to your earlobes with babies and dirty diapers. Or you may be spending half your life in the car, driving your children to and from numerous activities. In whatever stage of motherhood you find yourself, may I remind you of something? It won’t last for very long.

In Psalm 90 Moses depicted the reality of the brevity of life. He compared our lives to a watch in the night, a dream, grass that flourishes and then fades—all brief and fleeting images. Then he prayed this way: “So teach us to number our days” (v. 12).

Have you numbered your days lately? If we pause to count the remaining days we have with our children, we will realize how few there are. This awareness will help us to love our children today, to joyfully sacrifice for them today, to thank God for the gift of being their mom today.

—adapted from Feminine Appeal

Nov 12

How To Be a Happy Mom

2012 at 3:55 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Joy | Motherhood

I once talked to a woman who told me how she used to always be overwhelmed and unhappy as a mother. She was so burdened by the constant demands of her small children. She lived anxious and depressed. But then this mother was tragically separated from one of her children for a period of time. God worked in her heart through this difficult circumstance, and one way was to transform her perspective of motherhood. “Ever since that time” she said “I have never struggled with depression again. God helped me to see what a blessing my children are. I wake up every morning so grateful that I get to care for them, to meet their needs, to have them near me. I am the happiest mom.” Thankfulness drives away the clouds of weariness, self-pity, and impatience that overshadow the joys of motherhood. If we find that we have lost our joy in mothering, it may be because we have neglected to consistently thank God for our children. Sure, our children are a big responsibility and they do require a lot of work! But they are first and most importantly a gift from God and an incredible blessing. Read with me again the familiar words of Psalm 127:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)

Let the truth of Scripture refresh your perspective of motherhood on this Monday. It doesn’t matter how your children are behaving or how much discipline they may require or how much work it is to care for their needs. The truth is that they are a gift, a heritage, a reward. So choose to thank God for your children, and you will become a happy mom.

Nov 8

When We Sin Against Our Kids

2012 at 12:51 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Motherhood

If you’re like me, you’re painfully aware of the imperfect example you are to your children. But this is good, for it brings us back to the cross.

We are sinful mothers; however, we must not forget that the Savior died for sinners. We will never be able to hold up for our children a perfect example; however, we should display the humble, honest example of a woman striving after holiness, by the grace of God.

In fact, our sins provide an opportunity for the light of the gospel to shine into our relationship with our children. If we humble ourselves, confess our sins, and ask for our children’s forgiveness, we will be showing the power of Christ’s saving work.

I vividly remember one interaction between my two daughters—Nicole and Kristin—when they were little. I had gotten angry with Kristin and afterwards I overheard Nicole reassuring her sister from vast experience: “Don’t worry, Kristin—Mom always asks forgiveness.” I didn’t know whether to be pleased or discouraged!

While I didn’t want to believe Nicole had so many illustrations to draw from, I was relieved that her experience, though not of a perfect mom, was at least tempered by some measure of humility on my part.

Paul Tripp concurs: “Living consistently with the faith does not mean living perfectly, but living in a way that reveals that God and his Word are the most important things to you. Such a [mother] can even honor God in [her] failure, with [her] humility in confession and [her] determination to change.”

We can honor God in motherhood failures by humbly confessing our sin and drawing upon God’s grace to grow. What a powerful example of gospel-centered mothering!

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14