What things do you wish you knew before becoming a mother? Chime in. Just think, your experience and wisdom could help another mother (or mother-to-be). Here are a few things that would have helped me:
I wish I had known that. . .
1. I would be tempted to worry about many things but most of what mothers worry about never happen.
2. Children are more capable than I realized. Give them room to take safe risks and let them learn from their stumbles.
3. My child is not me. He will not have exactly the same needs as I do.
Have you ever been in that place–wanting to help your children but not knowing how? I’ve definitely been there more than a few times. It’s a hard thing watching your child struggle and feeling powerless to help.
I was reading 2 Corinthians 4:7 this morning and it reminded me that in my limited abilities, I can do nothing. But with God’s power, I (and my children) can do all things.
The answer is the same for all followers of Christ. Through our dependence upon His power we are victorious.
2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
I stood with my mother and father on a bustling sidewalk lined with vendors selling baskets of apples and oranges. The sea of red and orange distracted me and I let go of my father’s hand to feel the fruit mounded up in the baskets. I turned back to grasp my father’s hand but it wasn’t there. I looked up as far as my little neck would allow but all I saw was strangers. I ran yelling down the street. “Daddy. Daddy.” My heart pumped wildly and I could feel the heat of panic rising up under my coat. I was alone. I was lost. Abandoned.
Unbeknownst to me, my father had been there right beside me at the apple stand. He couldn’t figure out why I suddenly bolted and started running down the street. Finally, he caught up with me. “Why did you run away?” he said.
“I lost you, I couldn’t find you,” I cried.
“But I was there all the time, right next to you, even when you were running, I was running after you.”
This happens to mom sometimes. We’re walking down the road of parenting holding on to the Lord’s hand. Then someone comes out with a new parenting book and we’re all over it. After all, we want to be the best mothers we can be so surely the more information the better. Right?
Bookstores have complete sections dedicated to parenting books: some good, some not very useful. Yet God’s word is a consistent and ultimate guide for parenting. It is the foundation—the building block. No doubt, we will glean parenting wisdom from others. But when we turn away from God’s parenting truths and then grow weary chasing after the latest trends, God is right there with us, ready to grab our hand again, gently guiding us back to the the road of parenting. All we need do is ask.
I will search for the lost and bring back the strays…
We want someone to know us, really know us—deeply. Not just as a mom but as a person. However, for those raised in alcoholic, addicted or dysfunctional homes, so many thick layers of protection enfold our wounds that staying cocooned seems a lot easier than the pain of exposure. What will people think if they knew from whence I came? But the truth is you are not your past. You are not your addicted or dysfunctional parent. They birthed you but they didn’t create you. You are beautiful you, created by a God who is in love with you—who has a marvelous plan for your life as a mother and a unique, multifaceted woman. Here’s what God says about you:
1. I am a child of promise – Rom 9:8; Gal 3:14
2. I am free from condemnation – Rom 8:1
3. I’ve been justified – made righteous – Rom 5:1
4. I have received the Spirit of God -1 Cor 2:12
5. I have been given the mind of Christ – 1 Cor 2:16
6. I am God’s workmanship – Eph 2:10
7. I’m chosen and appointed to bear fruit – Jn 15:16
8. I am a partaker of a heavenly calling – Heb 3:1
9. I am a child of light, not darkness – 1 Thess 5:5
10. I’ve been rescued from Satan’s domain – Col 1:13
11. I am a citizen of heaven – Phil 3:20
12. I have direct access to God – Eph 2:18
13. I am a fellow citizen in God’s kingdom – Eph 2:19
14. I am a saint – Eph 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Phil 1:1
If you grew up in a home where one or both of your parents were alcoholics or addicts, you developed ways to cope in order to survive. Some of you did everything you could to please your addicted parent. By making them happy, maybe you could get them to love you more or at least stop them from using.
Perhaps there were times when you had to parent your parent even though you were just a child. Of course, there is no way you could have filled this impossible role. You were just a child. As a result, you naturally developed coping mechanisms that became a part of how you function in the world as an adult.
These coping skills have a good side. You became self-sufficient, hardworking, high achieving—an employer’s dream. However, while these traits work well on the job, they don’t translate well to parenting. Our skills are often hyper-developed as the adult children of addicts. Therefore, what is successful project management on the job could look more like dictatorship in the home.
For you it may be a tendency to over protect your children, a lingering habit from a time when you had to parent your addicted parent. For another mother it is perfectionism–trying to make up for the shame of the past–never a dirty window or snotty nose in her house!
I imagine many mothers struggle with control and perfectionist tendencies. But adult children of addicts magnify and stretch these traits out of proportion.
But what I’ve learned over these years of mothering is that God is a God of renewal. He can take all the old weapons that you formed out of the metal of dysfunction and turn them into tools for joyful mothering. He can start a new generation with you and your children. Ask Him. Trust Him. It is possible. Read Matthew 19:26