"'If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!'" We smile as we read the wall plaque in the novelty store. But our smile quickly turns to a frown if truly "Mama ain't happy." This is because the wife and mother in a family often "sets the tone" in the home. The "tone" God wants her to set is one of joy, optimism, and a delight in the Lord and in her family. If your family were called upon to describe you, what would they say?"
~Martha Peace, "The Excellent Wife"
Ooh. I'm not sure I want to ask my family this after last week's surprise surgery. I'm pretty sure they'd describe me as a sleeping machine!! Who knew a grown woman could sleep as many hours as a newborn?! Hey, what day is it any way?
This last week aside, though, I'd still be reluctant to ask my family to describe me. They know more than anyone how much I mess up. They see me at my worst more than they see me at my best. Lately I've wondered how much impact I have on my teenagers in particular. They are much more enamored with their friends and youth pastors than me. I'm just Mom, that lady that rides their tail about homework, asks them a lot of questions they'd rather not answer and makes them eat.
I know I should strive to set a good "tone" in our home and for the most part, I think I do, but sometimes Mama's gotta put the smack down which isn't always popular. It's tough being a mom. I must admit I think I do a poor job of it most days. I get tired and overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. I'm not Mary Sunshine (gasp!), and I don't try to be. It's just not me. Honestly, I think it would creep them out. My goal is to be the same with them as I am with anyone else. Now sometimes this means they cry, "TMI" (too much information) or even "WTMI" (Waaaay too much information), but I feel it's more important for them to know the real me than an ideal I'll never reach. It means I apologize and ask forgiveness quite a bit, but aren't these skills they need to learn as well? I do my best by them and pray God molds them into amazing people.
Yes, it is important for Mama to be positive and joyful, but I think it just as important for Mama to be who God has created her to be. It is no mistake any woman is mother to the children placed in her care. Those kids are there to learn specifically from her. I can't be something I am not. Besides, kids can see through a fake. I think it essential for women to admit their failings and confess their bad behavior to their children. We're going to mess up. We're human. We might as well teach our kids how to handle their sinful behavior by showing them what to do with it.
When their worlds were jostled last week, I got a glimpse that despite the irritations my kids suffer at my hand, above all else, they do love me. I saw it in my older kids who kicked in gear without hesitation to take care of their siblings in the wee hours of the night and morning while we were visiting the emergency room. I saw it in the tears shed by my younger kids at the first visit to the hospital and the unexpected appearance of my teenagers on their way home. I saw it in the little bud vase placed near my head on the couch with flowers from the yard changed as often as they wilted. I experienced quietness I never knew possible in my house (Do I hear the "Hallelujah Chorus"?). I think it says something that all but one of them have crashed enough to miss a day of school since Mama was down. I may not hear how they appreciate me, but they have shown me. Just as I love them when they are not perfect, they love me when I am not too.
Yes, Mama sets a tone, but every Mama should set the tone God places in her own ear. There should be no striving to meet an image or maintain a perfectly happy house, but a commitment to being real and showing her children how Jesus fills her gaps. Honest and real helps her children prepare for the world better than sweet and quiet.
Visit Christin at As Gold Refined for more In "Other" Words impressions.