Do you know this game? I grew up playing it. You were given a task, jump forward on one foot, walk backwards, take 5 baby steps, and you asked, “Mother, May I?” In response you heard, “Yes, you may.” If you forgot to ask, then back to the starting line you went behind your friendly competitors.
As a mother of three year old triplets, we’ve just begun experimenting with this game. Along with Simon Says and Red Light/Green Light, we’re teaching the kids to play Mother May I. The winner has to get all the way from the play room to the front door first. It’s pretty funny. And the reality is, most times they forget to ask Mother, May I. I haven’t had the heart to send them back to the starting line (or the patience - I’d be playing the game for 12 hours).
I’m not sure what mother invented this game, but you know she probably did it to subconsciously teach her kids (a) to ask their mom before doing something silly, and (b) manners. If you played the game enough times, then surely that “Mother, May I?” process would bleed over into non game-playing areas of life.
I want to encourage creativity and independence and decision-making-capability in my kids. In fact, of my two boys and a girl, my daughter is fiercely independent already! I don’t want college-aged children incapable of making a wise choice on their own. Yet, at this age particularly, I truly want my kids to respect my husband and I as well as to recognize that our wisdom can help guide them make smart choices.
But how scary is that? I make messes and mistakes. Thank heavens for forgiveness. I’m not a perfect wife, daughter, sister, mother, friend, or colleague. I am always coming to the Lord say, “Ack! Help!” And now I’m supposed to be the object of respect and wisdom? Umm, I’m sorry God, I think you have me mixed up with someone else! The reality is, though, that we ARE supposed to be the solid place on which our children can build their understanding of right and wrong, good and bad, true and false. Proverbs 22 is pretty clear about that, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I’m pretty nervous about being that force to direct their paths. But I am way more nervous about letting the world be the force instead. It’s scary to be a kid today. Facebook and social media, child predators, loss of privacy… Good grief, if every silly action I took or outfit I wore was held up for judgment on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I probably wouldn't have survived middle school. As scary as being the solid foundation can be for mommas, it’s even scarier being the kid.
So this is all I know to do:
1. Pray. I pray when I’m at a loss. I pray for their wisdom, safety, development, health, encounters, and anything else that crosses my mind. I pray I won’t muck it up. I pray they fall in love with Jesus. I pray they see that in our home.
2. Say I’m sorry. I do. And I’m learning to do it more. The other night, when I yelled at little bit, she ran crying into her room. Her action was wrong, but my response was wrong too. I marched myself into her room and asked for forgiveness. I told her that she shouldn’t have done what she did, but that I should not have yelled at her. I’m fairly confident this is not the last time I will have to say I’m sorry.
3. Model a good marriage. My husband and I have good months and bad months, but we keep “fights” to after hours. Our kids know we have disagreements, and they’ve seen us disagree, but we do not disrespect the other parent in front of the kids (and truthfully, we try not to be disrespectful period, but that doesn’t always happen). That person is your partner. It’s also the other person your child looks up to and receives guidance from – do not do anything to discount that. Plus, what you model at home is what they will think relationships are supposed to look like when they grow up and fall in love.
4. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This is not an end goal you achieve. We’re human. God gets that. We’re going to mess up (see step 2). You ask for God’s help. You ask for other family and friends’ help. You do your best. You keep working on it.
And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
www.gindivincent.com and her first book on leadership, "Learning to Lead," releases Aug 1st.
Thank you so much Gindi for this amazing post on Motherhood! I think we can all relate to this. I know I've had to say, "I'm sorry," more times than I'd like to admit.
What about you, do you find it hard to give yourself grace when you mess up?
Linking with: Fellowship Fri, and Faith Filled Fridays.