My “Mean” Mom
Shortly after I was married, I was at the grocery store, when much to my surprise, I came upon a CAN of ready to use beans and a CAN of ready to use pumpkin. I was elated! I couldn’t wait to get home to call my mom and share with her my great find! “Did you know you can BUY beans and pumpkin IN A CAN?!” She very calmly replied, “Yes.” WHAT?! I thought. ”You knew of this amazing convenience and kept it from me all these years!!”
Do you know how time consuming it is to sort beans, soak beans, cook beans to finally be able to USE the beans? And to make a pumpkin pie is most definitely an act of love! I have to cook the pumpkin, remove the seeds, scrape out the pumpkin and puree it, just to HAVE the pumpkin to make a pie!! She must have read my mind because she continued, “I just figured that preparing and cooking the beans and pumpkin myself was healthier.”
Even though my mom worked a full-time job, she was first a mother. She was frequently tired, but she performed her job as a mother very seriously. She planted a garden, and went the “extra mile” to prepare healthy foods for her family. She was a diligent, self-sacrificing woman and always made time for us kids. She never expected anything from us that she wouldn’t do herself. You could say, “She practiced what she preached.”
Years ago, I read something called, “The Meanest Mother in the World.” This is my version.
I had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids ate pop tarts and donuts for breakfast, I had to eat oatmeal, eggs, and wheat toast. While other kids had chips and candy bars for lunch, I had a sandwich and carrots. As you can guess, my dinner was different from other kids’ too.
My mom insisted we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She expected us to do our best in school, and a failing grade was unacceptable. She never held the teacher accountable for our poor grades or misconduct, but insisted we take responsibility for our own actions. Disrespect for authority was never tolerated. The “Golden Rule” was highly upheld in our home. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise,” Luke 6:31 states. Can you imagine someone actually spanking a child because he disobeyed? Now you can begin to see how mean she really was!
We had to be out of bed by 8 am. We couldn’t sleep until noon like some of our friends. So while they slept, my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. She made us work! We had to wash dishes, make beds, cook, and clean, and do all sorts of cruel things. She must have stayed awake at night thinking up things for us kids to do.
By the time we were teenagers, she was much wiser, and our lives became even more unbearable. She insisted on knowing where we were, at all times. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing. While other kids could stay out as long as they wanted, our curfew was 11:00 pm, and we had better not be late! While some of our friends were allowed to date, our old- fashioned mother did not allow us to be alone with a boy, and told us we must never let a boy touch us, and to always keep our clothes on!
You can only imagine how much we missed in life! My siblings and I were never arrested for shoplifting, shooting people, or dealing drugs. We never took part in a riot, looting, or burning our country’s flag. None of us were high school dropouts, nor were we fired from our place of employment. We have never been divorced, nor were we forced to get married because a baby was on the way. And who do we have to thank for this? You’re right: our mean mother. She trained us to be God-fearing, educated, honest, and responsible adults.
I thank God for giving me one of the “meanest mothers in the world.” I am thankful she chose to be a great example for me to follow. When I became a mother, I knew that if my children thought I was mean, that one day they would understand the value of the lessons I taught them and thank me.
Our kids don’t need a mom who caters to them, and who is afraid to stand up for truth. Children need a mom who is willing to train them God’s way; not the way the world deems right. Be diligent, kind, and respectful; be an example your children want to follow. Be the kind of woman your daughter wants to emulate, and the kind your son wants to marry. Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”
By Malissa Custer
Recently, I needed to change my perspective on a few things. I was feeling frustrated and annoyed by my kids. When praying about it all, the Lord helped me to see that my view was blurred by my own feelings. I was acting as if it was my problem that these kids were not perfect. As in, if I was being a perfect parent and disciplining perfectly, then my children would act – well, you guessed it – perfect, and would be the exact picture of everything I had been trying to teach and train. Almost like a giant to-do list, check the box, master the task, move on. This manufactured some serious frustration. I was looking at it in a way that was impossible. Along with this cycle of failure, throw in some new issues, and I was fried. I was being impatient with my older kids and their repeat offenses, and I wasn’t being very nice in dealing with them.
When I stopped to evaluate my feelings and the situation, I was pretty quickly reminded of how God deals with me, His child. How would I feel if God treated my repeat offenses like I was treating theirs? I was immediately humbled, when I came across this part of Psalm 103.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.”
Am I slow to anger? Am I merciful and gracious? Do I hold on to my anger? Do I hang my children’s failures over them? Do I understand who my children are and what they struggle with? Do I expect perfection? Oh no, there’s that word again. I very quickly realized that my parenting needed to evolve with the aging of my children. I am no longer dealing with toddler power struggles – which are very black and white, and in so many ways, easier. This is a new phase, and I need to adjust.
I also learned a little more than just a parenting lesson. I needed the reminder that Psalm 103 gave me. God doesn’t expect perfection from me; maybe I shouldn’t expect it from me either. It is impossible, after all. He knows my frame; why won’t I consider my frame when gauging my success?
I understand that a lot of people won’t be able to relate to these thoughts exactly. Maybe you’re thinking about having kids, but don’t have any yet? Maybe your kids are too small, and your battles are still about who is in charge? Maybe your personality is so different than mine you don’t understand where I’m coming from? Maybe your kids are older, and you’re thinking, “You think that is bad, just you wait!” Maybe all this thinking is overwhelming? Whatever is true for you, I’d like to remind you that the solution is not hard to find. That’s really what these words are about. I was out of whack. I wasn’t seeing clearly. I needed to get my focus paralleled with God’s. When that is your practice, you are guaranteed success, parenting and otherwise.
Suddenly simpler. Stay close to Him, listen to Him, foster your relationship with Him, love Him, and success will come readily. God is good.