What do I know about being a mother? I have never been one before and I have never enroled in any Parenting 101 course, if there was one. What training could possibly equip me for such a wonderful but extremely challenging job? What credentials can I give to deserve a title as worthy as mother?
I was 25 years old when I gave birth to my beautiful firstborn Jemimah. Two years later, my adorable twins Keziah and Keren came to my world. In three years of marriage: three babies. My cup was certainly overflowing. Then three more years later, my only son and last born Omar Job pleasantly surprised us. Here’s the one who will carry the family name. My quiver is full. My nest is busy. My life will never be the same again.
To bring up four children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is nothing but simple. It calls for lots of wisdom, bottomless patience, unconditional love and above all unwavering faith. I had high hopes for my children but I also knew there are no guarantees in life. I have seen many children lead lives dishonorable to both God and their parents…rebellious to the core, foolishly insolent and utterly disobedient. I did not wish that for my children. “How should I do this?” I constantly asked myself.
I am not perfect. I am surely not the best mother in the world. I am human. I make mistakes. I may have been a bad example on certain life issues before my children. My marriage failed and died after 19 years. How do I protect my children from the effects of this to their own lives? Bleak as it seems, I look back and I see, by God’s grace, that some things were done right.
Fiercely instilled in the love of God
It is a love that consumes my soul. I love God, He is my True North, my Light, my Life, my Raison d’ etre. I am in this world because of Him. All I have is from the goodness of His hands. All I don’t, likewise. In Him I found the answer to the questions that once nagged my soul: Who am I? Where am I going? Why am I here? I am not living my days on earth clueless to what God wants me to do. I have a sense of purpose because of Him. I have the best motivation to live each day: eternal life, heaven, the ultimate security. Therefore, I am not fooled by the lures of material gains. This life will end but not my eternal self. I will go to heaven. This truth is very real to me and I’m just like a beggar helping other beggars to find this place that has the Bread of Life. Be filled too for God is good.
Enriched by the Wisdom of the Bible
I love the Bible. It is God’s very Word, the love letter from Him I read with passion. It is a well-spring of wisdom. It guides my life. As it guides mine, it will guide theirs. It’s a complete instruction manual for life, including parenting. If I can get my children to love reading it and to apply its truths to their daily life, a major victory will be accomplished every time. The truth of Psalm 91: 1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” will be their experience.
These are some of the insights of the Bible that have guided me in parenting my four children:
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22: 6, KJV
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 KJV
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 KJV
Belonged to the family of God
My children were brought to church for as long as they can remember. I am their guide so it makes sense to take them to the place where they can find spiritual nurture. They will hear about the Bible as it is preached to them. They will make friends with like-minded children. They don’t have to experiment with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, loose living and all the addictions that imprison the hearts of men. Their environment will be conducive for their own spiritual journeys.
It is one thing to preach and another thing to do what you say. I grew up in a virtually fatherless home. I was supposed to have one but he was always somewhere else. He was an absentee father. On the few times he was around, they were not spent wisely. I never experienced what it was like be esteemed as a valued daughter, to be told by my own father, my supposedly first source of male influence and healthy self-esteem that I matter and I am beautiful to his eyes. I felt abandoned, invisible even. I did not know what I am and what I could be. There were no inspiration and guidance: two essentials for parenting. Growing up, I felt like the Ugly Duckling, an orphan like Cinderella and a lost child like the ones in Peter Pan’s Neverland. I was not fathered very well.
Not so with my children. I may have been deeply hurt by my daddy issues but God stepped in and fixed them for me and for good. He healed my heart. He nursed my wounds. I made peace with my past, learned from it and begun to be part of the solutions, not the problem. My children will know that they are loved, that they are beautiful and that they matter to me. I will be their cheerleader. I will be nurturing. They will know they have what it takes and that I will always be there for them.
In their school programs I tried to show up every time. Otherwise, how would I know the joy of listening to Jem’s graduation speech, KZ’s cartwheel routine as a happy clown, Keren’s inspiring speech as Class Salutatorian, OJ’s Boy Scout exploits. There were so many milestones and I did not want to miss any. I was the proudest parent in all of these. To me, my children are each uniquely gifted and they deserve my time and attention more than my work did. The latter was a necessary evil, to pay for our bills but not as important as watching my four children in their growing up years. Each stage of their lives was important and I wanted to be there.
Seeing the world
Thank God for material blessings from a lucrative career. It made sure that food was always on the table and in their lunch bags. School expenses were paid. House helpers were provided. Travels to foreign land was to be experienced from age 10, a good age for experiencing the novelty of other cultures. They were to have their first plane ride and their first look at another place with different customs, traditions and language. They were to see the world and I will kick start this lifelong habit of traveling.
Reading, writing, playing the piano
“Reading maketh a full man; and writing an exact man. And, therefore, if a man write little, he need have a present wit; and if he read little, he need have much cunning to seem to know which he doth not.” Francis Bacon
Good books, lots of them, to fuel the love of reading. This will be another “must adopt” habit to enrich their mind and spirit. They will also write. It goes with reading. An early reader will develop his mind quicker. Reading will give them substance to their writing, this two discipline go together. As for musical instruments, they need to learn at least one. It had to be the piano. I never had the opportunity to learn to play any musical instrument, not even the harmonica. Not my children. They will learn to play the piano and the three girls did! What joy it gave me to hear their recitals. I became a full-pledged stage mother and I loved it.
An independent bent
They say that maturity is doing a job capably and on schedule without the need for close supervision. My children were given the latitude to make choices and some life decisions on their own. I am not going to be an overprotective or insanely controlling parent. I will trust them. I will have faith that God will help them in their decision making process and eventual choices. I will pray for them a lot. I will release them to make their mark, confident that they have it in them to deal with their problems and issues in life. They have what it takes. I am keenly aware that there is a risk to this but I will be like the mother eagle who, at the right time, pushed the eaglets from their nest so they can fly on their own and conquer the sky. If they can speak before the push, they would have asked, “What if I fall?” I would have answered, “What if you fly?”
Speaking their mind
“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5 KJV
When my firstborn was introduced to our family and friends, I sent out a card with the above verses. I did not fully know then what these verses really mean. I was elated to be a mother. I still am. It has been 31 years now. My happiness had been richer, deeper and fuller.
The children of my youth have become young adults, all believers in Jesus, accomplished in their chosen vocation and very well capable of speaking their minds. My twins are bloggers and they are great writers. Truth is, I was spurred to blog myself because of what my third daughter recently wrote. Her blog brought much joy to my heart. They are getting it. They are conquering the sky. They are speaking their mind.
A merry mom
What do I know about being a mother? In 31 years, I surely have learned a thing or two. A part of me want to say, “I’m speechless!” but a speechless blabber would be an oxymoron. So instead I will say, “Here are the musings of a merry mom who learned that raising four children is one of the best investments there is. The reward is extremely handsome and the dividends are out of this world.”
A merry mom I will always be. I have been blessed with 31 intensely learning years of motherhood. From now on, I will stop counting. I will just savor each moment, each memory, each encounter with my four wonderful children.
I will keep on musing. I will keep on being merry. I will keep on being a mom.
“…he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15, KJV