On being a mother…

I remember when I first got brave enough to venture outside of my house by myself after my boys were born.  Everywhere we went well-meaning people would say things like, “Oh, you’ve really got your hands full,” or “I don’t know how you do it!” To me the answer was simple; I didn’t know any differently. In fact, I think I would look at those with one child and almost wonder where the other one was! I think in whatever the situation we mothers are placed, we just adapt and do the best we know how. It is the same now as I wade through this journey with Lindsay.  I don’t know what I am doing; by God’s grace and with His guidance, I just do it. That is what mothers do. We go to any lengths necessary  to make sure our children are loved, happy, and secure.  It might look different for each  mother and child, but we are all in this together.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the awesome responsibility we have as mothers, and I decided I wanted to hear from a variety of mothers about their philosophies, thoughts, and dreams for their children.  I asked some of my favorite moms to weigh in on a few questions in hopes that we all might learn something from one another.  I have asked mothers of children with special needs, teachers, mothers who have lost children, therapists, and, of course, my own mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law.

The four questions I posed were:

1. What is the best part about being a mother?

2. What surprised you the most?

3. What advice would you share?

4. What do you wish for your children?

I hope you enjoy reading their responses as much as I have.

 

My favorite thing about being a mother is knowing that I can model unconditional love!  I hope that my kids always know that God loves me unconditionally, and my love will always be that way, too! My kids know that I am their biggest fan!

My plan is NOT always the best plan. Surprise, right? God’s plans are always better.

Be your child’s advocate. They will have enough of the world telling them what they can’t do or won’t be, or is impossible to achieve. Advocate for your child; they will be who God makes them to be!

I wish for them to love God with their whole heart, entire soul, complete mind, and with all their strength. What else matters but that?  –Julie Tuley

 

The best part about being a mother is the laughter. Watching them laugh reminds me that I should laugh more often. I love the throw your head back and laugh uncontrollably. I love falling to the ground and rolling around because some things are just that funny! I love the laughter.

The most surprising thing to me about motherhood is how hard it is! Sometimes I feel like my mother should have warned me. But then again, there is nothing that can prepare you for motherhood besides getting in the rink and fighting the good fight.

My advice would be to enjoy the journey. When it’s easy, enjoy it! When it’s hard, enjoy it.

My wish for my children is that they are defenders of goodness. I hope that they are understanding, kind, loving, patient, selfless, quick to forgive and slow to judge. – Cylynn Sheffield

 

 

What I love most about being a mother was loving, caring, teaching them. It was fun watching them grow and taking pride in their accomplishments. I was joyful to see them become followers of Christ.

I was surprised by many things. They have rewarding careers and marriages. They are good parents and grandparents, making me a happy great grandmother.

I would tell young mothers to take more time to treasure each precious moment. They grow up so quickly.

My wish for all of my children is to continue to live the Godly lives they are living now. Ruth Hale

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My sweet Granny Ruth, and Lindsay Ruth!

 

 

The best part of being a mother is knowing that I am part of this circle of life. My heart is so “swelled up!” Motherhood is such a beautiful gift, and I thank God for that.

The things that have surprised me the most are that I always had more room in my heart to love and care for another little soul, and it was no longer all about me!

The best advice I would give is to wear your title proudly. Treat each child as you would want to be treated. Laugh a lot, and slow down and enjoy every day. Always look for the good in every situation. Make sure God is in your life every day.

I wish for my children patience, good health, and most of all, love.-Lela Peebles

 

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Gran and her favorite granddaughter!

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The best part of being a mother is the blessing that comes from loving these little (and eventually, big) people so much.  Yes, there’s pain, but there is so much joy in watching them grow.  You can’t know how much you are capable of loving until you become a parent.  There is also a little-known best part.  You can’t know how dependent you are on the Lord until you become a parent.  Realizing that I can’t make it without Him is a lesson He has taught me. 

What has surprised me most?  How hard it is!  I had this picture of the kind of mother I would be:  always loving, never yelling, always wise.  I knew the techniques I was going to use, and how I was going to teach my children.  It didn’t go the way I imagined!  Motherhood is hard.  A mother is tired, feels guilty about what she’s not doing, and her judgment gets cloudy when her child doesn’t respond just the way the parenting books say they will.  Being a mom humbled me.  

 I’m much better at offering advice about what NOT to do as a parent!  Here are some things I’m glad I did.  We didn’t make faith just an “at church” thing.  We read Bible stories at home and talked about what God did for us.  I tried to follow my children’s natural talents and interests and support those areas, not forcing what I thought they should do.  I tried very hard not to succumb to the pressure around me.  Contrary to popular belief, TN state law does NOT say your child has to play soccer at age 3! Make your kids do chores! Then be ready to live with it if the chores are not done perfectly, or their room are a mess. Be willing to say you’re sorry when you mess up. Know going in: you will mess up.  It’s tough, but try not to judge other parents.  You don’t know what they’re dealing with.  As soon as you say, “My child would never…” beware.  Your child probably just did.  

 I want my children to love Jesus.  I want to see them in heaven.  There is not one other thing that matters to me.  Would I like to see them thrive?  Of course.  Do I want to see them happily married with wonderful children of their own?  Absolutely.  I pray they will have good friends and a marriage that honors God one day.  If they’re happy, that’s icing on the cake.  Bottom line: a relationship with the Lord is all that matters.  Now if I could just remember that day to day! -Michelle Lasley

 

 

My favorite part of being a mom is being able to nurture, teach, and watching what each of my children become.  Most important, loving them forever…

What surprised me the most was that God gives you a tiny baby to love, nurture, teach values to, and raise. At any given moment your child will surprise you with something you have been teaching them all of their life–like manners! Using the terms, “Yes, sir,” or “Very nice to meet you,” when you least expect it.  You hear, “Oh, what a nice young man you have raised,” and, “It is nice to hear children use manners,” and you think to yourself of the little boy who just pulled his sister’s hair. You say to yourself, “Manners, nice young man…” You want to believe this, and when you hear it from a total stranger, you smile and say, “He was listening!”

Love, love, love your child no matter what ability he or she may or may not have. LOVE your child. Every child has a special gift, and God gave you that special gift to teach and learn from. Sometimes, as a parent, you may have to take a step back, be quiet, and just observe what that gift may be teaching you.

I wish the same thing for all children…to be loved, to feel special, and to know that they are important. I wish for happiness, health, to be safe, and to make a contribution to the world in which we live. Know what is right and wrong, and always make the right choice. Help others, and become the best person they can be. -Liz Zook

 

 

My favorite part about being a mother is seeing myself and my husband so prominently in our children.  The resemblance in both appearance and actions are uncanny!

 What surprised me most about being a mother is the instant bond I felt with each of my children the moment they were born; and even before they were born.

 I think having teenagers has taught me that you have to ask questions…  LOTS of questions.  Even if you’re not entirely sure you want to know the answer, ask…  That is a piece of advice I’d share.

 What I wish for my children is security.  Security in their relationships, job endeavors, and faith.  And also happiness.  Happiness with who they are and not having regrets about things they wish they’d done but didn’t.  Mary Kay Wigginton

 

 

I think the best part of being a mom is the gift it gives us.  It feels like Christmas morning every morning (or most) or when you see them in the bed asleep!  The love you have for your children is like no other love!
  What has surprised me the most is how difficult of a job it is!  It is a lot easier to go to work than to be a mom at home for sure!
  Having patience is the best advice I can share with others! 
I wish for my children to have a love for Jesus and to be wonderful husbands/wives and parents to their children.  -Elizabeth Livingston
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Mrs. Elizabeth loving on Lindsay at speech!
 
The best part of being a mother is to see my kids grow into responsible young adults and to watch them develop their talents and discover their gifts. The bonus is that we continue to enjoy spending time together. (With a 25, 21 and 16 year old).
 
 It has surprised me that my husband and I enjoy each new phase of their development more than the last. It gets better each year!
Advice I would share would be:  first, to never say never !  🙂  Humor is a wonderful parenting tool.  And to invest time when they are young, to develop their character and cultivate their heart rather than focusing on their happiness. I have told my children that 1) life is good, 2) Life is not fair, and, that 3) Life is worth it.
I wish for my children to know, love and serve Jesus, to be others oriented, to find spouses that they can truly love, be committed to and to have fun with, riding the highs and lows of life together and for them to have a passion and to pursue that passion. Hilary Boucher
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Mrs. Hilary, one of Lindsay’s many “moms!”
The one thing about becoming a mother that stands out to me is that now I can better understand God’s love for me.  Until I had a child, I could not comprehend the unconditional love that God has for His children; especially me. Once I became a mother I knew there was nothing that could stop me from loving my children, as there is nothing that can separate me from God’s love. Many times my children did things that did not please me, and yet I forgave willingly and unconditionally because they were mine. God does that for us also. Many times I fall short, and yet God continues to forgive me.
It surprised me what I would do to fight for my children. When T.J. came along and was so sick, it surprised me what I would do to fight for him and get him the help he needed. There is always a fight in a mother to do what you believe to be best for your children. I think back at how hard I fought to get T.J. in the hospital to find out what was wrong with him. I never dreamed we would be dealing with life-threatening disease and also a lifelong mental disability. And I have continued the fight throughout my life for him as well as for Matthew, and also my grandson, Andrew, now that my daughter, Carol, is no longer here. It surprises me that the pain of reality never goes away. I am so very thankful to God, even for T.J. ‘s disabilities, and yet it still hurts me. However, I have learned so much from T.J. about God. He wants us to be childlike and innocent, just as T.J. is.
The advice I would give young mothers is to stay close to God. Model for your children, starting at a very young age, how to pray about everything. Share with them how much God has done for you. Deuteronomy 6 is the passage by which I would live. Make Jesus the focus of everyday life. By doing this, I think it is easier not to make your children an idol. Also, it is very hard to give up control as your children get older, but God expects you not to idolize them. If you make God your focus always, then your children will not be your god. Remember that ultimately your children belong to God, and He has just blessed you with the responsibility to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. So, love God more than you love your spouse, your children, your possessions, your life.
I wish for my children to love God more than life itself. My prayer every day is that God will teach me how to love Him with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. I ask that He helps me model this for my children, grandchildren, and everyone that I am in contact with, so they can follow my example. I pray for me, as well as my children, to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)  After God chose to take my daughter, Carol, home first, I now realize more than ever the importance of just putting God first in everything. The world is not our home, and we can’t live like it is.  Heaven is what we need to be longing for, not and easier or better way here on this earth.  -Susan Hale

Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  So what I love most about being a mother is being gifted from the Lord with children, that He chose me to have a son and daughter, that He deemed me worthy of this calling, that it was a part of His plan from the beginning, and that He charged me with the privilege of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Unworthy me, whose name is written on the palm of His hand, was given the two most precious gifts imaginable,(until the grandchildren were born) making our family complete.   When Laura was born, I cried tears of joy because God had granted me with all that I had ever wanted:   a good husband, a beautiful son, and an equally beautiful daughter.

Most surprising is the depth of love possible, the unconditional love, the love that would allow me to lay my life down for my children and the realization of how much God loves me, for without my children, I am not sure that I could have ever known the deep, abiding love that God has for me.  Secondary to this love is the incredible uniqueness of each child from those things which they have “caught” from my husband and me to those things which they have created themselves. 

Deuteronomy 6:5-7  “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength….Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

Talk to your children day in and day out about God, His Son, and the Spirit as companions so that they will grow up with a personal relationship of Him and a constant reminder and knowledge of His presence and love. Use every opportunity to do so, in nature, with relationship building, with character shaping, with work and play.  Keep laughing, have fun, be forgiving, realize that they will make mistakes (sometimes big ones), hold them responsible but council them lovingly through it,  don’t be judgmental, love God, love one another, treat each other as you want them to treat you, and serve the world.  Above all, model Jesus in front of your children in every walk of life.

I want my children to stay faithful, to love their spouses, to grow their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, to be compassionate, generous, loving, and to love the Lord, love each other and serve the world. -Cheryl Lindsay

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Two of my favorite ladies! Otherwise known as “Buela” and the “Princess!”

Aren’t those great?!

 

I suppose if I am going to ask these questions of others, I should answer them myself!

I love so many things about being a mother! I love the relationships I have with each child. I love that I can mess up terribly one day, and they love me anyway! I love watching the people they are becoming and watching as their interests grow and change. I LOVE how my boys adore their sister.  I don’t think they have a grasp yet of the scope of her “disabilities,” but they don’t care. They get down on the floor with her every day and play with her, laugh with her, teach her, and learn from her.

Among many of the surprises of motherhood is my discovering how vastly different each child can be! From everything to how I have to discipline, to what they like and dislike, they are so very different! I am surprised at how excited I get when they accomplish a goal, whether it be passing the swim test, reading a certain book, riding a bike, or even Lindsay holding her fork and taking a bite correctly!

Probably most surprising to me is just how funny they can be!  I know God uses humor to help me survive the worst days!  Just the other night Carter said, “The next time we go to the store, can we get some more space books? I want as much knowledge about space in my brain as I can get. Some stuff that used to be in there came out so I could fit more space stuff.” One of his favorite things to say is, “I am awesome. Tell your friends!”

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As hilarious as Carter can be, Cason amazes me with his sensitivity and intuitiveness.  I have told this story before to some people close to me, but I will never forget it.  One day several years ago when I was driving the boys home,  Cason spoke up and said, “Mom, where will we stay when you are in the hospital?” Startled, I asked, “Why would I be in the hospital?” He said, “You know, when you have a baby girl.” Now, I had been longing for another baby and had just started undergoing treatments to make that a possibility, but neither of the boys knew that!  Later I would learn I was indeed, pregnant. Months later, we learned it was a baby girl!  When we found out, Cason just nonchalantly said, “I told you.” He says things from time to time about when Lindsay learns to do this or that, and I believe him.

If I were to give any advice, it would be to trust your instincts. God gave them to you for a reason. Also, find out what works for your family, and don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t look like someone else’s. Learn to forgive yourself!

What I used to wish for my children and what I wish now is a little different. I want my children to make a difference for His Kingdom. I want them in Heaven, and everything else is secondary. I pray that He uses their lives and that they accept whatever call he places on their hearts.

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Lindsay’s first sleepover! (Her parents had an appointment with Kenny Chesney!)

 

   Now,  I could not possibly write a post about mothers without telling you a little about my own.  Many of you know her, but you don’t really know her. She is the hardest working person I know.  When we were growing up, there were several times when my dad was out of a job.  My mom taught all day long and then went to work at night at Castner Knott. Can those of  you who are teachers even imagine? She has always survived on less than normal sleep just to keep up with all that she does.  She has led countless mission trips in Central America, taught thousands of students English, Spanish, and Latin. She helped me for five months overnight when my boys were born, sometimes getting only an hour of sleep before going in to teach the next day! She has just always figured out a way to do whatever needs to be done. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, family, and students.  Most of all, she has modeled the love of Christ to our family in her self-sacrificial love for us.

Finally, I cannot neglect to mention those of you who are waiting and wanting more than anything to become a mother.  I have been in your shoes.  I know the pain of crying in the shower alone month after month in disappointment, when everyone you know seems to be having a baby.  All I can say to you is never give up, trust in God, and know that you are not alone. There is ALWAYS hope!

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 *A special “Thank you” to the wonderful ladies that help me “mother” my kiddos every day; Lindsay’s therapists and Carter and Cason’s teachers!  Teachers spend more waking hours with our kids than we do, so it is nice to be able to trust that they are in great hands!

Until next time…

My favorite girl
My favorite girl
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This girl works so hard and is so happy!

Laura