For those who regularly read my blog, you have most likely determined by now that my son can be a bit of a hellion, a renegade, a bruiser, a nutcase…You can pick whichever name you like, either way, he is not lacking in adventure or personality.
We have Baby #2 coming along in about four months, so I have been desperately searching for creative activities that just might keep my little man occupied long enough to feed or rock his little sibling. So far the score is as follows:
Creative Mom: 0
Crazy Child: 4
The first thing I tried was a wonderful sensory experience which involved tin foil, jello, and army men. I knew it would get messy, but I underestimated how quickly this would occur. Precisely 45 seconds into the activity, my son decides the tin foil is much more exciting than the jello, so while I’m diving across the kitchen to stop it, the whole works ends up on the floor. My son was untouched, since he played in the jello for less than 1 minute, but my floor was very touched.
My second attempt involved a 2-liter bottle and a bunch of doll pins. My son loves to put things inside a container and take them out again, so I was pretty confident this homemade learning toy would be a hit. I cut a square hole in the side of the bottle, and showed him how to drop the doll pins into the bottle and take them out through the hole. This activity was slightly more successful than the first. He may have played with it for a whole five minutes, but it did not take him long to realize that complete destruction of the bottle is significantly more fun than the doll pin nonsense. My hard work was destroyed in minutes.
I was not disheartened by these disasters, but my next activity did involve less work on my part. I bought a small container at the dollar store and placed even smaller farm animals inside the container. I was confident that my son would enjoy dumping the animals out and putting them back in again. My mistake occurred when I decided to introduce this engaging device at a memorial service…in a gymnasium…or perhaps I should call it an echo chamber. You see, the success was that my son adored this container. However, it did have a few shortcomings. He couldn’t open it on his own, so each time it closed unexpectedly he screamed at the top of his lungs in the somber echo chamber. Even when it was open, he struggled to get the farm animals out, which involved a lot of shaking and banging in the somber echo chamber. Not only that, he loved this container so much, I was not allowed to assist in any way, so each time I tried to round up one of his rogue farm animals, he screamed and hit and kicked in the somber echo chamber.
Can anyone spell fail?
My fourth and final attempt involved a true-to-life SENSORY BIN. Now, for those of you who pay any attention at all to the mom-lingo out there right now, sensory bins are very much the thing to do right now. These bins involve putting different items in a tote and letting your kid discover his senses while he delves into the bin. There are certain moms out there that are firm believers in these bins. Some of these strong believers insinuate that none of us should have even survived to adulthood without these revolutionary sensory experiences. I procrastinated on my first sensory bin attempt because I could not possibly figure out what would stop my son from dumping the bin all over my floor. Did I mention the most popular type of sensory bin is full of rice?–FULL OF RICE. RICE. I’m sorry… You want me to give my 17-month old a giant bucket of rice so he can LEARN? Not even something educational for my son is worth that much stupidity from me. I finally gave in, feeling confident there must be something to this. For my first bin, I tried a very easy, no mess activity. The results are in the picture below…
So there you have it. Four brave attempts to make my son smarter and to make my life a bit easier, destroyed and strewn all over my house. Aaaah…. Motherhood…
My main motivation behind these sad, creative, brilliant attempts at engaging my son was to entertain him on his own for a few minutes while I got a chore or two complete. I will admit something, however. A close second motivation for these activities was based upon the fact that I felt like I should be constructing, creating, and bending over backward to establish activities for my son. I feel even more pressure to be this kind of Super Mom because I stay home with him. Stay-at-home moms should be Super Moms. We should be crafty, creative, and….. Perfect. Shouldn’t we?
Talking to other moms assures me I am not the only one who feels as though she has something to prove. But to whom? To our husbands? To ourselves? To our children? To other moms? To the world?
There is a mom out there who feels as though her house will never be clean enough. There is a mom out there who feels as though her children never listen to her. There is a mom out there who is convinced she is the only one who has ever had to leave a cart full of groceries in the middle of aisle 5 because her toddler would not stop screaming. There is a mom out there who feels as though her meals aren’t healthy enough or homemade enough or perhaps her meals don’t have enough variety. There is a mom out here who feels like she works too much, and there is a mom right down the street from her who feels as though her children need more interaction outside the home, and away from her. There is a mom out there who feels as though her inability to afford nice toys or the safest car seat makes her unfit to care for her children. There is a mom out there who feels as though she lets her husband down every time he comes home to a messy house, screaming children, burned dinner.
If you’re a mom, I think it’s most likely a guarantee that you feel guilty, stretched, and exhausted, just trying to prove something, to prove you belong, to prove you deserve your kiddos.
The funny thing about all this pressure we place upon ourselves, however, is that God is never a factor. Where does God come in when we are feeling inadequate to care for our children? Does it make him laugh when we desperately try to prove ourselves worthy? If we stopped to breathe, would we hear Him say, “Rest, my child. You are my creation”?
If you are a mom, like myself, who often feels like she is falling short of a Super Mom status, you are forgetting something essential: God does not measure success in the same way as the rest of the world. While you are busy striving for perfection, you are forgetting that you are made perfect in Christ. No amount of striving or sweating could make this any more or less true. God only asks one thing of you–to love Him and serve Him in everything you do, to commit everything you do to Him, including and especially your mothering. Do this and you are successful in His eyes.
God knew you weren’t perfect when He made you a mother. When your weaknesses become too much to bear, remember Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Being a mom is the hardest job in the world. I haven’t heard a lot of argument against that last statement. The problem, however, is that we are the ones making it so hard because of the pressure we place on ourselves, and the doubts we have in our abilities to do it right.
In Proverbs 12:23 Solomon says, “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.” When we commit our lives to Christ, we are gifted with a quiet confidence, a confidence that we don’t have to proclaim, because our identity is found in our Savior. He knows who we are, therefore, we know who we are, making all other opinions obsolete. If we constantly try to prove to ourselves and others that we are of value to our children, then we are seeking our identity in our children or our husband, and we will never find it there.
Psalm 16:8 reminds us that insecurity has no place in the Christian life, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
You will glorify the Lord by trusting in Him to provide you with everything you need to be a good mother to your children. Don’t ever doubt that His plan was to make you a mother to the children who scream at your feet and hang on your leg while you rush to make supper. It is okay to tell Him how difficult it is and how tired you are–God is your partner in parenting. If you seek Him, He will speak truth into you about how to raise your children in a twisted and terrifying generation.
Never forget that your children belong to the Lord first. They are a gift, entrusted to you by your Heavenly Father, and He has never doubted your ability to raise His children.