Mother, May I?


Reflect the best parts of yourself in your children.

By April Jones

Mother, may I? May I have another cookie? May I go outside and play? May I stay up past bedtime? Out past curfew? Watch one more show? Play one more game?”

Although endearing, today we rarely hear “Mother, may I?” but more like, “GIVE ME, GIVE ME, GIVE ME!” The relentless cries and requests of children that echo in the ears of all mothers rarely contain words of appreciation and support. They are also rarely requests for things they can do for US, but more like things they want for themselves — and now! So Mothers, may I take a moment to express gratitude and encouragement for ALL you do — EVERY moment of EVERY day through your entire lives, and the lives of your children. Motherhood comes with great reward, but it is rarely expressed in the home from the lips of those we work hardest for. And it is rarely acknowledged by those who’ve never known the task of full-time caretaker for the home or the herd.

I know how difficult it is to be a mother. I am a single mother of two amazing children. And as great as I believe them to be, there is no denying the demands they make on me daily. These demands are not just physical but emotional and psychological. I believe my children to be the very best and worst of me, little mirrors that constantly reflect not only the nature of who it is I am shaping them to be, but who it is I am, or have been, when I am with them.

It brings great satisfaction to see your child demonstrate the characteristics you’ve strived so hard to engrain, like manners, generosity and affection. It also brings great pain to see them demonstrate the less noble characteristics they kearn from us—impatience, judgment, anger and even hostility. There is so much to learn from our children, especially when they play. You can hear them mimic life and experience in the voices of their dolls, the clamoring of their kitchens and the ways to which they communicate to one another. I have many a reality check when I listen to the various ways my oldest (being the ripe, young teenager of 16) speaks to her little sister (at the tender age of 6). There are times when the voice is soft and endearing. She is eager to listen, play and be present with her sibling. And then, there are times when the voice is so condescending, aggravated and completely disinterested. She wants absolutely nothing to do with her sister, because EVERYTHING she does “gets on her nerves.” I know a lot of this comes with the age and sibling territory. But if I get completely honest with myself, at times a lot of it comes from me. When I am patient with my children — eager to listen, fully present and engaging — my voice is soft, tender and loving. When I am not, well, let’s face it, the tones are sharp, short, distracted and irritable. I just want everyone to get out of my face and out of my way (holler if ya’ hear me, mamas)!

Not only are we responsible for teaching, protecting and providing for our children, we are responsible for demonstrating character, exemplifying integrity and communicating respect in both our words and actions towards them and others. Everyone knows walking speaks more than talking. And everyone has known the “Do as I say, not as I do” parent. But what is it we are truly demonstrating to our children? What do they see in us when someone cuts us off in traffic? Rushes to get in line ahead of us with a full buggy when we only have three items? When someone gives us too much change? When someone needs a helping hand? When someone straight up pisses us off? Our kids also see when and where we shop. When and what we eat. How and with whom we spend our free time. What do they see or hear? And what are they learning?

I know we all want to believe ourselves Mary Poppins -— practically perfect in everyway. I joke all the time in my home that I am. But we aren’t. We never will be, nor are we supposed to be. But we can be present and aware. We can be intentional about who we are raising by the character we demonstrate to our children. We can set standards in how we react and respond to others. We can show them discernment with how we spend our time and our money. We teach with every choice we make. Every act teaches one; every word leads to a conversation. We have great power in our homes to raise our children in “the ways that they should go.” The question is, what direction are you sending them in? What tools are you equipping them with? And how strong do you wish to make them with all that you have given?

Dedication and diligence reap great reward, not only in the character of our children, but the quality of their lives. There is no greater desire of a mother than to see her children be happy and successful. It brings pride to see our children demonstrating and honoring the values we worked so hard to teach. These are the legacies we leave behind. The inheritance of your words and wisdom are taught daily. The question is, are you leaving your children pearls or plastic baubles?

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