Mother's Day is around the corner. National Foster Care Month begins tomorrow. It's a good time to reflect a bit about our roles as parents or people who influence and impact the lives of children.
by Mary Steinke > >
Mothering does matter. Yet most of the time no one notices how much it matters until a mom doesn't get something done or achieve the same high standards held by her dearest treasures and critics-her children. Family members notice immediately how much it matters when mom makes a mistake like an unsigned permission form, fresh meat forgotten overnight in the car, or clean, wet underwear in the washer, instead of dry in the drawer. When I felt like a failure as a mom on a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" many years ago, I prayed that someone-anyone-would notice the things I did well in my job as the family manager. No, the answer didn't come with my loved ones lining up to list my accomplishments, applauding my achievements. The answer came through learning to list my own little successes, the little things I did well-even when no one notices or appreciates it. This may sound silly to some, but when it seems nothing stays done for more than a moment in the midst of mothering, little things do indeed mean a lot. Here's a short list of the little things I recently did out of love for my family:
* Snuggled a little one who continues to struggle.
* Gave up the last homemade brownie although I wanted it.
* Did a child's chore when he had a big school project due the next day.
* Decorated the living room for spring.
* Bought a son's favorite healthy snack even though it wasn't on sale.
* Told stories about my own childhood to my kids that made them laugh. * Signed, addressed, stamped, and mailed two birthday cards for my husband's family.
* Ignored my bedtime when my teen needed to talk.
* Forgave myself when I realized that no parent can save enough for college.
* Sorted laundry while making home maintenance phone calls.
* Decided not to complain for a whole day. That was a real accomplishment.
* Stood my ground with my children about a household rule.
* Stretched the family budget for a restaurant meal to celebrate new accomplishments.
* Allowed my son to invite bunches of his friends over-on my birthday.
* Reorganized a cabinet so everyone could find supplies.
* Wiped all the dirty fingerprints off all the household switch plates.
* Made everyone's favorite meal in the crock pot.
* Problem-solved some friendship issues with my child.
* Said "yes" to an impromptu library trip even when my day was already packed to the max.
* Worked in my garden to bring beauty to my home.
* Remembered to make my hubby's peanut butter>
sandwich with no jelly, Daniel's with marshmallow cream, and Adam's with strawberry jam-not jelly.
* Praised Brian when he put everything away after making his own PB&J sandwich.
* Paid all the bills and am thankful we have a home.
The record of the little things you do out of love for your family that goes unnoticed and unappreciated may be very different from mine. You may be in the season of small ones, strollers, and sippy cups. Or, you may be in the season of waiting for college acceptance letters, wading through wedding plans, or watching grandchildren. Contentment in mothering comes in knowing that you're doing the best you can do in the circumstances you find yourself-right now. No mom does it perfectly. No family will ever notice everything. A wise mom chooses to do it to the best of her ability-minute by minute, sacrifice by sacrifice, choice by choice, noticed or unnoticed. She chooses to do it because she loves to do it-even on "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad" days. Mothering will always matter, because mothering well will always matter to moms.
Mary speaks at retreats and moms groups, teaches Bible studies, writes many Hearts at Home newspaper articles, and serves on the Publishing Team for Hearts at Home. Before children, she worked in full-time ministry as chaplain in such diverse settings as nursing homes and prisons. Mary resides in Normal, Illinois, with her husband, Harry, and three sons.