The Art of Being a Mother – Part 2
Monuments are significant. Anybody who wants to build a monument or anything else needs to follow a blueprint and have a good foundation. It doesn’t work well to just wing it even though there are days when we do end up “winging it”. Even before the blueprint and the foundation, you have to have a plan on how to complete the job.
Putting that foundation down and making sure it is level is the only way to guarantee a monument will stand those winds and rains that will come. One also needs to count the cost. There’s no point in beginning a project if you’re not planning to end well. There’s not even a point in beginning if you’re going to give up before your task is complete. You need to count the cost.
As a mom, it’s so easy to lose sight of the finished product when we’re years away from finishing. If we could remember to ask ourselves, “Will this help in building my monuments or will that diminish total value?”, that question will help in the decisions we make relating to our kids.
What Jesus said about building monuments
Jesus said that if someone wants to build a tower, he needs to first sit down and count the cost to make certain he has enough money to finish the project. This means a person needs to not only have a plan, but he must be committed to seeing it through to the end.
Children don’t come with instructions. Yet there is a Manual. There is a wealth of wisdom and instruction for how to build monuments in the Word of God. Other parents have struggled just as we do now, and they have many years’ of experience that can be had if we but ask. ‘Trouble is, we often think those moms had it all together and didn’t struggle like we do. As if.
As moms, we have all the resources available that we need if we will but go to God and ask for wisdom. The problem is that often we go everywhere else first before we consult Him. It’s a pretty amazing feeling when you ask God for wisdom and He shows up with a nudge or a light bulb moment in your tired mommy brain. You do what He showed you and all you can say is, “Wow!”
Experience helps build monuments
At the same time, an apprentice can learn well from someone who has years of experience. A cousin shared that her son asked her advice on problems they were having with their children. They lived in a different community than hers, and her advice was this: “I’m not around you long enough to observe your problems; find a couple in your church whose children you think are well-behaved. Go to that couple and ask them how they do it.”
Best advice from a mom, don’t you think?
It helps to find a mom with a track record you admire.
Watch her – and ask her advice. Experience – whether successes or failures – is one of the things that makes a woman wise. There’s a reason why scripture tells us that older women should teach the younger. Be a learner, and then grow your children.
Building by example
It doesn’t help our kids if we tell them how to build, but we don’t follow that plan ourselves. If we want to raise strong monuments, then there are proven methods to follow.
Building a monument is like raising kids. The monuments we build in our kids are not for the praise of men. These monuments are for the glory of Jesus Christ and are to be representative of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
So then, how do we build?!
We build by example.
Isn’t it easier to follow directions for a recipe, a procedure, or a craft if someone says to us, “Here, let me show you.”
Watching someone else do it looks so easy. How encouraging it is to have someone standing near, encouraging and supporting us.
That’s how we build.
In nonverbal ways, we say, “Here, let me show you how to be respectful. Let me show you how to be truthful. Let me show you how not to give up.”
Rather than telling, we show by how we live. If we’re living right, we can say, “Do as I do.” Isn’t that so much more powerful than saying, “Do as I say, and not as I do.”?!
We have opportunities to model honesty, respect, and kindness in the daily activities of life. When Wal-Mart fails to charge for an item, do we take the time and make the effort to pay for the merchandise or do we figure it’s their loss and my gain? When an older person takes a long time to enter a building and we have to wait our turn, do we show respect and care, or do our kids hear us grumbling about pokey people? When a stray (whether it’s an animal or a kid) shows up at our place, do we welcome them or grudgingly allow them to stay? How we respond to these things is how we teach by example. We don’t have to say a word. Our kids get the message by watching us live.
We build by teaching.
God said we should talk of things with our children in everything we do. We are to teach them His commands. Lying, faithfulness, covetousness, adultery, stealing, envy – all those commandments are to be taught to our children when we’re walking, or sitting, or lying down – what other times are there? I think He covered them all. We answer their questions and, by modeling what we teach, they will learn.
There are a variety of ways and suitable times to teach and no one way or time is necessarily superior to another. Some of my best moments as a mom were when I grabbed an event and used it to teach the ways of God.
Modeling and teaching should be a way of life for us – and not something we expect the Sunday school teacher to do for us. Our pastor can’t teach our children seven days a week – so it falls to us as parents.
Brick by brick, mortar by mortar, we teach in the things we say and the things we do.
We build by training.
Repetition is the key to learning. It’s not enough to tell a child something once or twice. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to only remind a child once to brush his teeth, make his bed, or take out the trash? It doesn’t happen that way.
Potty training a toddler takes time and patience because we are training him to go a different way than he is “bent” to go. Before, his elimination happened in a diaper and it happened whenever and wherever. For a child to be trained, the focus changes to the fact that the child is physically capable of maintaining control and choosing to do his elimination in the bathroom instead of his diaper.
Training never stops. When we achieve one goal, we reach for another one. (And sometimes we just want to yell, “Are we done yet?!” because it seems there is no rest for the weary mom.) Sometimes we’re working on physical training (riding a bike without training wheels); sometimes we’re focusing on character development. Whether we’re dealing with temper outbursts, whining, pouting, or laziness – none of these will go away on their own. A change in behavior happens as we train the child to choose other options.
Getting wisdom for building
Wisdom, like scaffolding and ladders, helps us reach beyond ourselves. It helps us do things we could never do on our own. Ask God for wisdom gives us ideas when we’re fresh out of them.
Remember your goal of raising kids with character that is upright, with a work ethic above reproach, and with a moral compass that enables them to “do the right thing, even if it means being different from the majority surrounding them.
Your studio dwellers can help keep a semblance of order as you navigate them through the oils and tempers of life. Your artists-in-residence will flourish and develop as you keep evening out textures and smoothing out splotches- building character and “real” living in the lives of your children.
Be an artist and use your studio to build depth and auras of authenticity. You do this as you teach, train and show the way by your example!