This is from my friend Elaine Woods:
I’ve been a mother for 21 years. I’ve celebrated 21 Mother’s Days. If you look in my nightstand by my bed you’ll see the cards and notes from each of my four kids over the years. Some of them resemble squiggles of their younger years; recent cards are filled with creative, loving poems and thoughts. Occasionally I’ll look through that drawer, and pull out a cherished treasure. The other day I came across one that said,
I wish we did’t have to eat meet for dinner.
Love, Your Son.
Each card means so much to me. I’ve been blessed.
Every year my kids ask the same question, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” Now they know I’m a fan of Starbucks, massages, and chocolate, so they know any one of those will make me happy. Yet still, they ask.
When I think about Mother’s Day this year, what I really want are two things.
First, I want my kids to know that I truly, unconditionally love them. Really. I love them with my whole being. I will always be there for them. Now this doesn’t mean I will give them anything they want or support any decision they make, but it does mean I will always have their best interest at heart. Children don’t always understand this. As mothers, we do.
When my kids get frustrated, mad, or angry at me for decisions I’m making, they are confusing love with getting what they want. That’s okay. If they ever get the chance to be parents someday, then they will understand.
Another thing I want is for my children is to serve and appreciate others. I know this sounds altruistic, but there are so many reasons why I want this for my children. Mainly because it will shape their character and mold them into loving, responsible adults. They don’t understand that these characteristics will ultimately bring them the most success and joy in life, but I do.
If you ask them right now what they want out of life, they will probably say a great job, lots of money, a big house, and a dog.
As parents, we want to make our kids happy. We love them, and have the power to instantaneously make them happy. It’s easy to get sucked into buying our kids the latest toy or electronic. Just try to get out of Target without waiting in line while your child looks around and says, “Can I have that?”
As Director of Children’s Ministries, even I get caught up in ways to entertain and entice our children so they will want to come to church: Should I get inflatables? What about a mini-carnival? How much candy or treats should I serve?
While these are all good ideas and fun to do, we know what matters most is the character of our children. In church lingo, we call that spiritual formation. Christian spiritual formation is a lifelong process of becoming more like Jesus. While today’s culture is telling our children that life is “all about me,” we can remind them that life is really “all about God.”
We can practice this daily. Teaching our children to serve and appreciate others begins when we first teach our children to say, “Please” and “Thank you.” Later, as they mature, we have them visit sick relatives, write thank you cards, share their things, volunteer in church, etc. Let them be the ones to answer the question, “What needs to be done?”
The more they give to others, the more they will appreciate what is given to them.
I realize my Mother’s Day list won’t happen in one day, or even one year. Raising a child takes time. To me, motherhood is a celebration of life. I’m thankful for the life my mother gave me, the life I see in my children, and the eternal life with our heavenly Father.