I love my children.
All of them.
I have enjoyed playing with my children, reading to them, cuddling with them, and talking to them.
I have loved many years of blowing bubbles, riding bikes, and building blocks.
I have cherished late night movies, surprise rides for late-night ice cream, and rubbing the back of a fever-ridden child.
I also take my job of mothering my children very seriously.
With gravity, I understand the importance of my place in their lives and for what seems like an eternity, I have worked really hard to be the best mother I can be.
But over the passed few years I’ve noticed something.
I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly slipped from the joy of raising my children to the job of raising my children.
I have shifted my focus unintentionally from sharing my life with them to shuttling them around, getting things done, and checking their lives off of my lists made on their behalf.
And I’m grieved by that reality.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Type A person that covets a sense of achievement and want my kids to measure up to my need for perfection.
Maybe it’s because I’ve allowed the current and pace of the culture to dictate to me how much we should do… how much they should do and how it all reflects on me.
Maybe it’s because I’m a homeschooling mother and so much of what surrounds my relationship with my children also centers around daily duties, weekly assignments, and checklists galore.
In the last few months, I have slowly awakened to the reality that I have become a task-oriented mother, moving from one goal, objective, or ambition to the next.
Is it bad to have goals for your children?
Is it a terrible thing to outline the objectives you have for your children or work with ambition to do your very best job as a parent?
I don’t believe it is.
But the problem is when those aspirations and aims eclipse your affection.
What happens when your parenting rules or regulations overshadow your relationship?
The hard truth is this…
All of my good deeds as a mother… the books I read, the Bible studies I attend, the Bible stories I share, the meals I make, the clothes I wash, the homework I review, the carpools I participate in, the soccer games I go to, the chore charts I create, and the money I spend…
They mean nothing.
If I don’t have love.
Yes. Boundaries are healthy.
Yes. Discipline has its place.
Yes. Sometimes your very best parenting won’t make your kids feel warm and fuzzy inside.
But I’m not talking about being a good parent.
I’m talking about being a good parent while forgetting to simultaneously reassure them with a smile, a touch, or a tone of voice that says, “no matter what kid, you are mine and I would choose you again.”
I am realizing that the most important thing that I can give my children is love.
Not the hard, cold, duty-driven kind of love but the kind that let’s them know unconditionally, without reservation, and without hesitation… I’m glad they are mine.
If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise.
If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love.
If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.
I Corinthians 13:1-3 (TLB)
Dear mother, I know you love your children. I know you love them deeply even if they are making you tired, hurting your heart, or driving you crazy.
I just want to whisper a small encouragement to you.
While you do the work of motherhood – because motherhood is work indeed – don’t forget to love your children in a way that they can tangibly sense.
Don’t let the satisfaction of crossing your mothering tasks off the list override the intentional affection you offer the hearts of your babies.
Don’t let your duties dictate a decrease in the amount of love and devotion that your kids can feel.
Do the work. But don’t focus on checking off the boxes.
My children… your children… are not boxes to be checked.
They are souls to be loved.
I have to be honest and tell you that I woke up one morning and realized that I’d lost sight of that.
I’m grateful that God has reminded me of the great value of His love in me overflowing to others… especially my children.
My prayer is that my wake up call is a reminder for you too.
And if you, like me, have gotten off track, know that it’s never too late to love.
There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13 (TLB)