This is a fantastic post. Seriously. And, although it sounds easy to prioritize sometimes it's not. Our first child was born last June and we were thrilled. Two weeks ago my Hubs and I realized we hadn't gone on an actual factual date together since Jonah's birth. Whhhaaat. I mean, it happens. Thanks for the reminder to get our priorities straight. I really enjoyed this post! ps. I'm Lindsay! My Husband and I are new to Houston, and started attending Grace (Humble Campus) about a month ago. We are loving it and really look forward to connecting with people + serving! Nice to meet you :)
Priority #1 – Faith & Spirituality
A Blessed Mom has the opportunity to shape a life (maybe more than one). Prayer brings the intention and action together. I want what’s best for my family. I intend it. Christ will give me strength and wisdom to do it. Daily consultation. Daily devotion. A daily download of spirituality. Sometimes it’s all a mom’s got, so it’s gotta be the first thing.
“And without faith it is impossible to please [GOD], for he who comes to GOD must believe that [GOD] is and that [GOD] is a rewarder of those who seek [GOD].” (Hebrews 11:6, NASB)
Stand by your faith. Never faltering, never wavering. When true conviction meets strong temptation, passion for that that supports the backbone of who you are–what you believe, what you stand for–will, unequivocally, without hesitation, rise to the occasion. If you are imbalanced in any way, you will be met with difficult decisions at every turn. Most of which, will be between what you think to be right and what you feel you want to do. Feelings and logic are not necessarily mutually exclusive in morality. But, in reality, so many think one way and feel another: It’s-wrong-for-everyone-else-but-okay-when-my-kids-do-it kind of thing.
That’s why prayer and faith are so important to you and your domestic relationships–spouse and children alike. It has that trickle-down effect. Get it right with God and you get it right everywhere else.
No more flying by the seat of your pants.
You’re Mom, for crying out loud.
You’re supposed to have the answers to everything. God (and His Word) are like your secret weapon. You might not have all the answers, but you know the One who does.
Priority #2 – Spouse
My Richie and I agreed B.C. (before children) that we would always put one another first–
LOVE AND RESPECT.
It seemed to us that if we put each other first, then the children would always benefit. It was like an indirect way of putting them first.
Now that we actually have children, we realize just how important that decision is truly affecting us and their lives–their whole-being.
We love each other (displays of affection in front of the kids–It makes them feel safe).
We respect each other (It teaches them how to treat others, especially those they love).
Because, trust me, when two babies are crying bloody murder in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason whatsoever (thank you, doctor, for the elusive diagnosis that is colic)…
LOVE AIN’T ENOUGH.
History is riddled with passionate lovers whose affairs and marriages ended tragically. It’s not because love wasn’t there; it’s because respect wasn’t.
That’s what a lot of marriages are made out of these days: flimsy, passionate, changeable love. Maybe before, it was just respect and that seemed boring to our generation. It’s not any fun to kiss RESPECT every night in bed after you cut the lights out.
But, you put both qualities into the sauce, you’ve got yourself quite an example for your children to follow. That’s a legacy for happiness in the making. My prayer (SEE PRIORITY #1) is that I show my children how to, not just tell them: “Marry well, girls, marry well.”
Priority #3 – Children
This is easy-peasy, right? No one, for the most part, has to say: “Moms, put your children first” with a lecturing finger and tsk-tsk eyebrow. It’s that dadgum instinctual, nurturing thing. It’s that thing that will cause lionesses to take their cubs and walk 10 miles away from warring lions just to protect their offspring in case the sire loses the fight.
“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” (Tenneva Jordan)
We just can’t help ourselves. What we must learn is to balance between nurturing for well-being and nurturing for whole-being. Well-being can lead to indulgence. Well-being can lead to a child-centered home. In the end, that’s not what’s best for the child.
I WANT TO GUIDE MY CHILDREN INTO WHOLE-BEING.
I want them to get along well with others, so they can’t always have their way. I want them to be happy, so they must be self-disciplined. I want them to be compassionate, so they must put others’ needs before their own.
So, suffice it to say…
MY KIDS COME THIRD.
Not you. Not the kid that will inevitably tease them. Not my pride.
God first. Hubby second. Still not you. My kids third.
I may naturally want to put them first–prayer will keep me from that. And, sometimes job and housework will try to make themselves emergencies instead of urgencies–God, help me again.
But, just so everybody knows…my kids come third.
They’ll know how important they are to me always. They’re never fourth–their lives more precious than mine. They are NEVER first or second…I love them too much to cause that kind of chaos.
SEE PRIORITY #1 and PRIORITY #2 and you’ll get it.
Priority #4 – Me Me Me
You’re the matriarch, the pillar, the chauffeur, the chef, the housekeeper, the educator, the principal, the nurse, the seamstress, the enforcer, the mediator, the cuddler, the stylist, the gardener, the accountant…and that’s not even counting a day job, if a mom has one. And, if you’re a single mom…you’re the sole breadwinner to top it all off.
With all these irons in the fire, it’s easy enough to put yourself last because you’re overwhelmed with everything else.
There’s that old saying that keeps popping up in my head:
IF MOMMA AIN’T HAPPY, AIN’T NOBODY HAPPY.
And it’s true. If I don’t feel good (whether emotionally or physically), I’m abrupt. I’m not compassionate. My patience is very, very, very thin.
Tell me, how is that fair to my family?
So, what makes a Mom happy? Maybe…
- A few hours off now and then, even if it comes at a premium for a babysitter?
- Finally getting that thing checked out by the doctor?
- Getting involved and serving at your local church in an area in which you excel?
For me, it’s about getting to take my bath and read an actual book after the girls are down for the night. Currently, it’s a 750-page medieval saga—Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman…Drat, it’s so good I can’t put it down and now I’m in too deep. It’s gonna take FUH-EVA!
It’s about getting to sing at church (in the choir, on the front line). It’s about using my talent to serve.
It’s about eating RIGHT and exercising [I’m having amazing success with Eat Right 4 Your Type by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. You know what right is…put down that fried pickle!
It’s about getting a manicure and pedicure (even if it’s late at night, with my own non-professional self) once a month. Pamper. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bible somewhere (Queen Esther, maybe?)
It’s about finding the right balance of housekeeping and playtime. Making reasonable, responsible goals so that I don’t feel guilty when I’m playing with my little ones. It’s about deciding that maybe I’ve been a little too anal with organizing the spices and that reading Moo Ba La La La by Sandra Boynton for the umpteenth time, is the better thing to do.
SOMETIMES IT HAS TO BE A LITTLE ABOUT ME, SO THAT I CAN BE THE BEST ME…
Not because I’m selfish, but because my family deserves it.
Priority #5 – The World Around
The tagline of the missions ministry at my church is…
PRAY. GIVE. GO.
Sometimes, I don’t have time to GO, so I GIVE. Sometimes, there isn’t enough money, so I PRAY. Then, there are those magical times when everything works out just right and I do get to GO.
Well, there hasn’t been any GOING since the babies were born, but…fingers crossed, k?
Then, I really started thinking: Does GOING have to be outside the country? My state? My town…Gosh, my neighborhood?
I walked past my neighbor’s newspaper on the front of his lawn today. Well, there was more than one. Three to be exact.
First thought? Take it…the Sunday edition with the coupons in it. Yeah, I’m human too. But, good for me. I didn’t.
Then, I thought: “Why can’t he just at least chunk them in the trash can on his way into the house instead of littering next to MY house?”
Hold up a minute.
PRAY. GIVE. GO.
Prayer isn’t going to get those newspapers out of the yard. Give? Nah, he doesn’t need anymore…newspapers. So, I GO.
I bring his newspapers to his front step. Maybe he’s really tired from a long day at work and just couldn’t bear the thought of going out to get those three soggy newspapers. AND…maybe he couldn’t care less. The point is, I saw something that needed to be done…for someone else. And instead of griping and complaining about it…I find a way to help out.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NASB)
If I can keep this up so that my girls notice…I’ll be an example. Not just a wagging finger pointing out the right way. A real-live-honest-to-goodness example.
Children learn best by mimicry. Monkey see, monkey do.
My evangelist-father often mentioned in one of his sermons:
“THE HABIT OF A PARENT BECOMES THE NATURE OF A CHILD.”
I want to make good habits of giving of myself to others, because I want children that are naturally bent in the same way. So much so, that THEY don’t even have to think about it.
I’m blessed, so that I may be a blessing.
Hoarding and self-absorption are sooooooo B.C. (before children).