How long is your “Motherhood Should-Do” List?
Well, I never want to make it any longer!
I hope that this blog is a “could-do” blog – and not a “should-do” blog. I hope that you walk away from 10 Million Miles feeling encouraged, inspired, and invigorated about your life. (Instead of feeling like I just put a million pound weight on your shoulders, expecting you to finger-paint Indian Corn, dissolve BottleCaps in vinegar, and smile at your husband ten times before breakfast. Yikes. You didn’t feel a million pound weight from that, did you??)
When our hearts are open to the “could-do’s”, we flourish together! I love this online community of women – some mothers, some daughters – invigorated about the work we could do to bless others and bless God.
There are three things that I feel mothers really could do, as best as we’re able, and as often as we’re able – that will bring us all great joy. I hope you join me each day this week as I explore another one of these important treasures.
The first one is to experience the pleasure of giving our children lots and lots of physical affection: hugging, kissing, high-fiving, shoulder-patting, hand-holding, snuggling, hair-tosseling, lap-sitting, rough-housin’, tickling, head-stroking affection.
God designed us to have a physical bond with our children. After all, they begin the first nine months of their lives wrapped into us, completely dependent upon their physical connection with us. At birth, they immediately long to nurse, cuddle, and sleep heart-to-heart. Though our physical connection changes in expression over time, this God-given motherly-affection is meant to endure as a child ages. Motherly affection is meant to bring a mother and her children great joy; to sanctify our selfishness; and to affirm our child’s inherent worth as a beloved human being.
As our children grow, it is more and more difficult to give affection. The minute we’re no longer changing their diapers, picking them up when they fall, and giving them baths, we begin to “naturally” grow apart. Before we know it, our children have trudged from 3 to 18-years-old with just a handful of hugs and a few pats on the back. Sure, our affection must change in nature as they grow, but it mustn’t end. As children grow, may our hearts’ appreciation for them reach beyond the status-quo – reach through the distance, growth, and awkwardness – and touch them.
If a mother cannot touch her child with gentle love, affection, and appreciation, who can? Who will? She is the one vessel God created to administer this form of His kindness.
If you are a young mother like me, perhaps something like this will work for you:Â When your 18-month-old reaches his arms up to be held (again), and you are able, say, “Of course! I love to hold you.” And mean it. Don’t worry; you won’t have to hold him forever. I have never seen a mother carrying around an 18-year-old son; let alone a 3-year-old son. If you have a clingy 2-year-old who wants to go with you everywhere (I know this one from lots and lots of experience), decide that you like to have her along everywhere, and tell her that. This will become a sweet bonding time for the two of you. It will also change in the blink of an eye.Â When you read to your children on the couch, spread your arms wide, and invite everyone to snuggle in as close as possible. When you buckle a toddler into a car-seat, finish things off with a kiss to her nose. When you are walking down the side-walk, reach out to hold your 5-year-old’s hand. Purpose in your heart to never, ever stop these expressions of pure, motherly love.
Perhaps it has been a while since you’ve given this gift to your child. Would it help to make a do-able plan to charge through the distance, and bless him this very day? A hug every morning? A pat on a shoulder? An affectionate squeeze to an arm?
Let’s not be offended if our children resist or ignore our affection. Let’s not be offended when our efforts are not returned. Motherly love is ours to give! What a pleasure to give without expectations or strings attached. At the same time, may we eagerly anticipate when our children do offer affection to us, and receive it gratefully. May we savor it, and say, “I love when you hug me!”
There are a million reasons we lose our physical connection with our children over time. Many reasons are very legitimate. In these cases, we simply acknowledge how things got-to-this-place, and ask God for a hopeful plan for the future. This simple acknowledgment can make all the difference in the world. Other reasons are due to a mother’s own heartache, past, selfishness, or offense.Â Perhaps she needs to pursue healing from sexual abuse, a warped idea of physical affection, an annoyance with touch, or a resentful heart towards a distant child. These paths towards healing are not simple. But they are worthwhile. A good place to begin is with a vulnerable prayer to our Affectionate Father in Heaven.
In fact, when it comes down to it, we all must begin with a vulnerable prayer to our Father in Heaven, who places our lonely hearts in families, who gently leads those with young, and who holds us in His hand.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Mother-Daughter Giveaway! A bundle of resources from best-selling author, Dannah Gresh! So far, lots of mothers and daughters have truly enjoyed exploring the Secret Keeper Girl website together!)