In Luke 2:19, near the end of the story of the birth of Jesus, these words are recorded: But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. It is only natural that this young woman would, for the rest of her life, remember every detail surrounding the conception, pregnancy and delivery of her firstborn son, our Lord.
All the mothers I know carry in their hearts priceless and private memories of their babies. My children’s births did not come about by divine intervention, as Jesus’ birth did. As far as I know, they were not born to fulfill prophecy or to bring about radical, earthshaking changes. However, they were the most special children on earth to me and, like Mary, I treasured up memories of their childhoods and still ponder them in my heart.
I was not and am not a perfect mother. Upon reflection, I would have done some things differently when raising my children. Many things, however, I do not regret. In fact, a few of my mothering practices turned out to be spectacular successes. For the benefit of newer moms, here is a bit of advice offered by this older, gently used mom.
Shower your kids with exorbitant love. Cuddle, hug, kiss and physically and emotionally stroke your kids every single day. No child ever gets too much love or affirmation. Look for opportunities to praise advancements they make and successes they achieve. Tell them often that they are wonderful, special and incredibly cherished simply for the fact that they exist and belong to you.
Involve God in all that you do. Talk with your children openly and unashamedly of God and the supreme role He plays in your life and theirs. Pray over them and with them often. Draw attention daily to the wonderful marvels of His creation. Never vacillate on Sunday about whether or not you and your family will be going to church. Make that a given for your household. If God is important to you, make sure your children know it.
Live a disciplined life. You will not model a perfect life for your children, but hold yourself to a high standard. Be honest and kind. Show love, patience and respect to everyone. Practice what you preach. Spread forgiveness and compassion wherever you go. Tend to the sick, encourage the struggling, and openly support good causes. Don’t merely tell your kids how they should live. Show them.
Give your kids your full attention. Participate happily in your children’s tea parties and pirate adventures. Take them outside to play in the sun and the snow. When they ask you to play school, play doctor or play church, play it. Sing and dance with them and read to them every single day. Turn off your phone and be fully present and engaged with your kids.
Down the road, you will probably regret some of the things you did or did not do when your kids were young. You will never regret doing these four things. In fact, you’ll be glad you did them. They will be the things you ponder in your heart for years to come.