What's a Mother to Do?

I was talking to a young mom recently about things I learned as a mom with young children, and the things I wish I'd done better along the way. I know that each of us have a very unique experience when it comes to mothering. No two mothers are exactly alike and each child is one-of-a-kind, so all the best advice in the world cannot be administered in cookie-cutter fashion.

But, don't most of us as moms just wish that the advice we've received worked every time? As we listen to other moms, doesn't seem like they've got it together and we wonder why we're floundering? Why isn't mothering easier? Why are there so many variables that influence the outcome? What is a mother to do?

With all this said, I thought about some simple things I wanted to encourage young moms to do. Some of these things I was told by other moms, some I discovered on my own, and, all of them I failed to do at one time or another!

I remember as a young mom listening to a sermon by Pastor Chuck Swindoll on parenting. He admonished parents to say "yes" as often as they can. Don't misunderstand this--he wasn't advocating a liberal parenting style absent of structure and Biblical guidelines. He was just suggesting that we liberally affirm our kids' requests when they are within reasonable parameters for a child's age and stage in life.

I have to tell you that I couldn't believe I was hearing him correctly. I grew up in a home and church that claimed "NO" as their watchword! I remember as a child that there was always a "good reason" for my mother saying "no" to something. "It's too messy, too dangerous, too costly, too time-consuming, too much trouble, too unnecessary, too hard, too...too...too.!" So, as a child, I experienced "no" much more than I enjoyed "yes" as a child. Upon hearing this sermon, I determined as a young mom to grab hold of this and utilize it as much as possible.

I still remember one of the first times I felt caught in the middle of my new determination and the old "no" messages that rumbled in my mind. My daughters who were five and three at the time were playing in the kitchen and asked me if they could get out their Play-doh Fun Factory. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon and my first thought was "it's too messy!" I thought about the tiny bits of red, yellow, blue and pink play-doh strewn around my kitchen floor while I was trying to prepare dinner and get the table set and ready for my husband's arrival. Then, it flashed in my mind! "Say yes as often as you can!" I still remember how difficult it was to get that three letter word out of my mouth. I moaned that three letter word out in elongated form: "Yyyyyyyesssss!" I said to my girls and ran to the toy closet before my practicality could take over.

I was right--it made a multi-colored mess all over the floor. But, I can still hear my little girls squeal in delight as they showed me their shapes, the spagetti they made for dinner, and the play-doh animals that they saved to show their daddy that night. As I swept up the floor that afternoon I knew that "yes" was a milestone moment. Now as a Nana, I only wish I had said it more often!