Phew! I wish that I could truly tell you about all of the lessons I learned from this book. Every day I think about it. Every day I'm trying to improve as a wife and mother. It feels like every day I have a chance to put into action something that I've learned. I was challenged so deeply by this book, I think it will follow me for many years.
There's so much that I could write about, and I'm sure I will throughout the years, but today I want to talk about what the book says about being a mom. I know that I've said it before, but all I've ever wanted was to be a mom. I've always wanted to take care of my own children. I had visions of doing craft projects, walking around the zoo, swimming at the pool, snuggling up in bed reading books, sitting on the couch with the lights turned down low watching a movie, wrestling on the floor, and sneaking into their rooms at night just to watch them sleep. So many people encouraged me and told me that I would be a great mom. I might have gotten a little cocky. I mean, I baby sat for 15 years before I actually became a mom. I did overnights, trips, whole days. I've rocked a crying baby for hours, cleaned up puke, driven in the car with two fighting kids in the backseat, fed a baby, given kids of all ages a bath, comforted a crying child in the middle of the night. I mean, I thought I had covered it all. How different could motherhood really be?
I was wrong. There's something about not being able to give your child back at the end of a set amount of time. Something about being home all day with a little person who doesn't talk to you, and when he does, you can't understand him! Something about being up half the night and then up the whole next day. And the child was up to so he's tired and cranky. I just didn't realize how frustrating motherhood could be. Yes, people told me, but I thought it wouldn't be like that for me. But I'm learning that 90% of it is about my own attitude. The book focuses a lot on the mother's attitude. I set the tone for my entire household. Even though Micah is only 9 months old I've already discovered that to be true.
Since finishing the book about two weeks ago, I can honestly say I have not had a frustrating day with Micah. I've just changed my entire attitude. And, boy, does it show! The book talks about seeing our children with God's eyes and desiring to teach them about God. I have no desire stronger than that. However, I didn't know how to live it out, especially with a 9 month old. But I picked up a few suggestions from Elizabeth George. Now, whenever I am putting Micah to bed, while I walk him to sleep (yes, we still walk him to sleep!), I pray for him. Somehow the time goes by much quicker. I use prayers that I learned from another book that I read, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, by Jodie Berndt. I pray for his health and safety. I pray that he will grow up to be a man who loves Jesus with all of his heart and desires to serve his people. I pray that Micah would have a thirst for Scripture, even at a young age, so that he can memorize Scripture and be able to use it in times of need. I pray that he will be a man of integrity, someone that others know they can depend on and trust, that he would be respectful and fair. And I pray that God would guide Brad and me as we raise Micah. They we would make wise decisions and love him in the way that he needs to be loved. I love that time. And I find that now I forget about how long it has taken me to get him to sleep because I've been spending my time talking to God.
I also learned how important it is to teach a passion for God's word, even now at a young age. Brad and I always read Micah a Bible story before bed. And we pray together at all meals. I've also taken to reciting a Scripture verse over his crib when I put him down to sleep. I want Micah to grow up in God's arms and feel safe and secure there, not judged and tied down, like so many adolescents do.
One thing that I was really challenged by in this book was how I spend my time. If I'm to make teaching my children about God a priority, than it should be reflected in my time. That means really focusing our day on that. That does not mean that we need to spend hours reading the Bible every day or talking about how much we love God, his people, his creation all the time. This is not sit around the campfire, kumbaya. This is real life. However, I need to prioritize. I need to prioritize my time with my children and prioritize what we do with our time together. For example, watching TV is such a waste of time. I'm not saying that TV does not have any place in a home. I understand the desire to veg out and just relax. But, really, how often do we need to do that? Especially when my children are young, I'd rather spend my time going for walks or reading Bible stories. I don't need to use the TV as a baby sitter. I need to prioritize my time better.
I want my kids to know that they are my priority. That means being home when they get home from school, having a snack prepared, ready to listen to them talk about their day. That means spending special time with them, going out on dates, sitting in their room chatting. That means telling a friend that I can't talk right now because I'm spending time with my child (how many children remember talking to mom about your day at school, her answering the phone and talking for 30 minutes? what does that say about your priorities?). It means setting an example. Letting my children see me spending time with God. Memorizing Scripture with them. Praying together at meals and before bed. Serving together in our community. Worshipping together at church. My job as a mom is so important. I'm in charge of raising a child to love Jesus with all of his heart. I need to devote all of my time and energy to that. I know it can be exhausting and frustrating, but it is the most important job I will ever have. I should give it the time that it deserves.
I don't mean all of this to say that I'm the perfect mom. I'm not. I make mistakes. I will continue to mistakes. I have bad days. I know that I will make my child feel like less of a priority. I know that I will choose some other activity over him. But it doesn't mean that I can't try. Or that I shouldn't.