Last week I sought to answer one humble mom’s request for advice. Here is the second half of her question:
I want to be a godly mother who sits on the floor reading books to my little one. I want to enjoy the little moments, singing songs to him, but most of the time I’d rather be getting the laundry folded, the dinner cooking or cleaning the house so that I can scratch another thing off my to-do list. Can you give me any advice? How can I change this attitude on a practical level, for I know God must first change my heart. What does it mean to be a good mom? How do you know when to play with your kids and when to make them play by themselves? When do you read them a book and when is it OK to fold the laundry?
This mother’s question touches on an important topic, for I am concerned that some moms of young children live under a load of self-imposed guilt. There are many reasons for this and the result is that we often feel guilty for things that are not sinful and sometimes neglect the things that Scripture does call us to. But that is another post for another time! Whatever the source, the solution is, as always, to return to Scripture.
First of all God’s Word tells us what we are called to do as moms. Among other responsibilities, we are to love our children (Titus 2:3-5). And 1 Corinthians 13 spells this out for us: love is patient, kind, not self-seeking or easily angered. You know it well.
The important thing to remember here is that love is not a feeling. It is something we do. So when we don’t feel like enjoying our children, but sacrifice to serve them anyways, this is not sin but obedience. Now feelings are an indicator so we aren’t to ignore them—but they don’t necessarily mean we have sinned. We should not feel guilty simply because we do not feel like enjoying our children.
What we need to do is ask ourselves, Am I caring for my child’s physical, spiritual, and emotional needs, regardless of what I feel like? Am I loving my child (in a 1 Corinthians 13 way) even when I don’t want to?
Sometimes this does mean stopping what we are doing to read them a book or sing them a song. But we also love our children by serving our husband first, keeping our home orderly, serving in the church, and having a consistent quiet time. Sometimes we love our children best by letting them play by themselves for a while!
On a personal note, when my girls have struggled with feeling like they don’t spend enough time “playing” with their children, I’ve reminded them of my mom. I don’t remember my mom getting on the floor and playing with us or taking us to all kinds of special outings or planning special projects.
But she was there for us. Not only was she physically present in the home, but more importantly, she was content to be there. She worked from sun-up to sundown to keep a clean and orderly home, do the laundry, cook economical meals, serve neighbors and church members. She did our hair each morning, helped us with our homework, read us a bedtime story. She was eager to listen to us, available to help us, happy to be right where she was.
And she raised five children who all adored her. I don’t think any of us for a single second ever doubted her love.
May God give all of us grace to love our children with this 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.