Tuesday, February 28, 2017
One person can change the world. Look at religion and how many people have influenced others. Or now-a-days, look at sports or movie stars (society has really fallen short these last fifty years when it comes to people to look up to). Who has influenced you? Who do you look up to? When asked this question, most people answer, their Mom or Dad. Out of all the people in the world, parents are the most influential. That being said, what kind of an example are we giving our children?
Back when Hesston was around a year and a half and really began to want my attention, I caught myself looking at my phone, reading, texting, checking Facebook, scanning Pinterest, you know, checking out all the stuff going on in the world, doing everything but engaging my son. He began to climb on my lap and watch me use my phone. Then he started trying to navigate the screens like I did. Of course, this was a no-no, and I tried to teach him to keep his hands off “my phone aka my lifeline,” but kids are sponges, and they do what we teach them to do, mostly by our example (our words and actions). It was no wonder he started reaching for my phone, wanting to play with it instead of his toys. That’s what I did.
I decided to put the phone down and just count how many times I reached for it within the next ten minutes. I thought it would be once or maybe twice. Within the first minute, I had reached for my phone three times. That’s three times more than I thought I would in the whole ten minutes. Within five minutes I had reached for it so many times that I’d lost count. And why? Because my mind wasn’t focused on the task in front of me. Because all I could think about was what I was missing while I sat there and watched my son play.
It was in that thought when my mind shifted, and I began to think about everything I was missing right in front of me: a life that I’d never get back, time I could never get back, time that was much more precious and important with my son than what was going on in the world. I was missing out on my son’s life. I was missing out on his childhood. I was missing out on being an active participant…his mother. I had failed. And I knew it.
Shocked, and a little numb by my realization, I put my phone away. I started to participate. It was hard at first. I kept catching myself yawning, feeling tired or bored. I had to consciously engage my mind in his playtime, or else I found myself reaching for the phone. But I kept choosing my son and our relationship over another Pinterest post, over another Facebook feed. I chose my son’s life over everything else, and that’s when we really became a family. I’m so thankful I did, because four years later, I find myself choosing him and his little brother, over and over again.
It’s hard, even still, I’m not going to lie. Because I’m social, I’m creative, I want to be a part of something more. But I need to do all that when the time is right. And I have determined that my relationship with my children is more important that other people right now. Because I feel like the role as a mother is more important than anything else. And I am so abundantly blessed to be a mom, who gets to stay at home. Why waste it? Why waste what so many other women wish they could have?
I refuse to waste my time. And even though playing with my kids may seem like a waste of time some days, it is the single, greatest thing I can do, because I am telling them that they’re worth my time. That they’re important. That I love them. And they need that.
In a world where everyone tells you you’re not good enough, you’re stupid, you’re slow, you’re insignificant, I want to be the person in the back of my child’s head showing and telling him he’s incredible beyond imagination. That he can do anything he sets his mind too. That he can change the world. And I feel like I am changing the world, just by being a good mom, because I feel like it all starts at home, as simple as that sounds.
Motherhood is the most important role a woman can play. Is it any wonder that Satan tries to tear motherhood to pieces? Through the media? Through women’s rights? Through sexism? Through rape and pornography? No. It’s no surprise. Because as a mother, we literally have more power and influence on the world than anyone else. We make all the difference in our children’s lives. We determine whether they succeed or fail. As such, we determine whether the world succeeds or fails. What a great responsibility.
If children don’t feel love and security, what do they feel? And what kind of an affect will that have on them later in life? What kind of collective affect is that already having on our society? Our society is in an uproar because people have forgotten who they are. They’ve never been taught. People have never been taught why they’re here. They’ve never felt true love. They feel like they don’t belong. Hence, what do they do? They scramble around life, trying to figure out the most basic answers to these questions, and usually end up getting them wrong, because there’s nobody to guide them. No loving hand to direct their path. No kind words of reassurance when they fall down or make mistakes.
So I ask, what role do we have as mothers? A very important one. Important enough that it's hard to put into words. Why are we here? What is our mission, or role in this life? Do we even know the answer to those questions? If we don’t, how can we find them? How can we help our children know who they are and why they’re here?
As parents, we are the ultimate teachers. It’s a inordinate responsibility. How we use our time is how our children will use their time. We are their example. How can we do our best to be an example to our children? How can we do more than just the minimum? Do we wake up in the morning, turn on the TV and leave it on for most of the day? Do we use the television as a babysitter? Do we use the iPad, our phones, smart watches, as the new parent, the new teacher? Do we come home from work and sit down on the sofa and tune out? Do we open our laptops, our phones, and stare at the screen instead of at our children? What are we telling our children when we do this? What are we telling each other (as a couple)? Yes, I know that there will be hard days, and sometimes turning on the TV, or giving our children a device is the best option (so we don’t yell or get upset). But is that every day? All day?
I know this is probably an exaggeration, but it can turn into that. Just like it did with me, when I started counting how many times I reached for my phone within five minutes. And it started as an innocent gesture when Hesston was an infant. I would read as he nursed. Read as he slept in my arms. Read as he took a nap. And then it bloomed into needing to have it in front of my face all the time, without me even realizing it.
It is good to do these checks. It is good to take inventory of our lives. I love my phone and technology, so I’m not saying throw it away. I’m saying, use it in moderation. Because we, as moms, are determining not only the future of our children, but also the future of the world. Sure, they have their choices, but we’re the example. If they’ve seen us be on our phones/computers/watching TV, what choice do you think they’re going to make when they get home from college? When they get home from work? And think of all that extra time that they could be creating or doing something amazing. Doing something bigger than themselves. Changing the world.
Media is an escape. What are we trying to escape from? Are our lives really that boring, that mundane, that we can’t create our own adventure within them?
It’s also inspiration. Are we so inspired that we just need to keep getting more? More ideas, more words, more images? Is it the creativity inside us that’s crying to get out?
Use that creativity with your children. Teach them to foster and nurture their own. Have them write a story from their imagination, you’ll probably be surprised with what they have inside their head.
Have them sing a song that they make up-we call this “jamming out”.
Have them dance to one of their favorite tunes.
Have them draw a picture of the people they love.
Go outside and explore the world.
Build that block tower.
Race those play cars.
Play dress up.
Then when the day is done, and the littles are off dreaming of all the adventures you shared, create your own worlds on paper, or share someone else’s.
These young years may be hard, but they’re short. Too soon, you’ll have a whole day to yourself. Too soon you won’t have kids to pick up from school, practice, a friend’s house. Too soon, you’ll look back and ask yourself what you did in all those years. Did you waste it by being lost in other people’s lives? Or did you grab your life’s reins and take off? What memories are you going to hold onto when you’re older? What experiences will get you through the hard times? Create them now, so you can enjoy them both now and later. And the ones you create will last a lifetime and beyond. Isn’t that incentive enough?