Mamma's Gifts: Spikey or Awesome...Ah, Both!

This Mother's Day, I was invited to write about Motherhood à la French for our church magazine.  I responded that I really don't know about French mothering, not about American parenting, nor even about godly or Christian mom-ing for that matter either.  I know what we do in our home.  And the best thing that we do is change together.

They wrote back and asked for the article!  So voilà and enjoy!

What gift do you most crave on Mother’s Day ? 

For years, I did not know how to answer that question.

Twelve years ago we began attending our church when our fourth son was a nursing baby.  On our third Sunday, as I was dropping off the brood for their children’s worship, I was targeted as prime Sunday School volunteer material and invited to join the team.   M.O.M. seemed written all over me.  And yet, I did not always relish being a mother. 

Many days felt like mere survival.  “Get down from that fence!”  “Talk to your brother nicely.  He’s made in God’s image too.”    “It does not matter who played first with the Lego; there is plenty for all to enjoy.”  “We hear you.  You don’t need to scream.  Everyone, let’s take turns speaking, please.”  “B.E.D.T.I.M.E, darlings.”  And repeat the following day, and the next one too.

When God wants me to hear something, He often communicates the same message in multiple ways.   I began reading biographies (one page at a time before conking out at night) and realized that these leaders must have been a challenge to their mothers.  I also pondered about God whose thoughts are so much higher than mine.  What appeared to be a total failure—Jesus’ death on the cross—proved to be of infinite success.   And my produce salesman at the marché regularly remarked how privileged I was to need to buy tons of food for five men;  he and his wife could not have children.

“O.K. Lord.  I’ll stop giving lip service to my sons being gifts from you.  Help me believe it and act on it.”  And the Lord answered my prayer.

Our eldest child, as probably most do, introduced us to the need to discipline.  And yet, he is also the one who brings us the first joys in parenting:  from that initial eye contact to hearing him recite poems and admiring him in school plays, to proudly watch him receive his high school diploma.  One child tests limits.  Again and again.  He teaches me creativity in parenting.  It’s boring to hear (and say) the same reprimand again and again.  Thanks to him, I constantly seek ways to give him a vision of himself as a grown man positively contributing to society.  Another son has a sensitive spirit which made him an easy target for bullying.  As a recovering victim he too can resort to meanness and tantalizing others.  For him, love is spelled T.I.M.E.  He teaches me to slow down.  It’s impossible to connect with people when we’re all running around.  Yet another child teaches me patience...just when I’m about to lose my cool!   This fun-loving child points me to God’s faithfulness and sense of humor.  I can imagine Abba Father whispering, “Denise, I’m answering your prayer for patience, the real stuff, not the virtual version.”

The best Mother’s Days are when I thank our children for how they change me.   As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

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Happy Mother's Day.  Remember, relationships are like onions.  We peal away one layer at a time and sometimes we cry.  And other times we revel in added flavor.  Bon appetit, folks!

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