Friday, August 6, 2010

MY KIDS AND ME - Chapter 5

Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles? Especially if you’re a Mom?...and especially, especially if you’re a mom to small children?

If you’re old enough to remember the days (“Please, Mom,” I hear my daughters wail, “no ‘good ole days’ stories!”)…please don’t interrupt me…the days when Birdseye was more than a brand of frozen peas. It was a well-known brand of diapers…CLOTH diapers. You know, the kind you soaked in Ivory Flakes, and washed separately. Then you dried them, and folded them in such a manner that they stacked neatly in your diaper stacker, ready to reach for and use at 2:00 a.m. I remember a neat little gadget that amounted to a clothes pin on the end of a plastic stick. When baby would soil her diaper, you would simply pin a clean corner of the diaper to the stick, and swish it around in water until the “soil” was off. Then you didn’t get your hands dirty. And then we went to pre-folded diapers. There were actually diaper services…companies dedicated to laundering your babies’ diapers. “Laundering” has sure come a long way, Baby, in its definition, hasn’t it?

Having spent almost all my mothering days on the mission field, except for the first nine months, I can even remember washing diapers in a creek.

So the term “going in circles” had to have been started by a Mom, because there are days when you finish the last load of laundry, and another one is in the making. A sink full of dishes is washed, and it’s time to start dinner. You get through the last bath, fall into bed, and the vicious CIRCLE begins all over again in just a few hours.

But I learned from my kids that circles are important in raising children. You can look at a circle as something that you run in (horrible grammar, I know!), or you can use circles to your advantage.

I once had a Pastor, Dr. Jim Vineyard, who is the father of my present Pastor, Bro. Tom Vineyard. Dr. Vineyard made a statement one time that I’ve never forgotten. It didn’t contain many words, and I don’t think it was the title of his sermon. But one of the basic things I’ve learned from living 66 years on this earth is this: “Go to church. Listen to the preacher. Do what he says.” I believe with all my heart if we would apply that simple, basic principle to our lives, whether we’re seasoned Grandmas, or new Moms, there would be less need for private counseling sessions, and pastors could spend more time with their families, and dedicating their ministry to winning people to the Lord. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. Just before leaving my house to attend church I pray this simple prayer, “Lord, speak to me through the preaching of your Word. Help me to be obedient to it. I pray that it will convict me, comfort, and guide me, and show me a truth I’ve never seen before. Amen.” We’ve gotten away from basics. We’ve complicated motherhood and marriages. We’ve created false idols. There are no perfect moms or marriages. And here comes the lesson.

Pastor Vineyard said, “Draw a circle. Everything in that circle corresponds to you: your responsibilities. Everything in that circle is what you’re responsible for. Leave everything outside that circle alone. Don’t mess with it.” That was it! But I’ve never, never forgotten it. I’m saying it’s been twenty years since Dr. Vineyard made that statement, and here I am sharing it with you.

You have a circle. Yours is a Mom circle. You might have a big circle which includes wife, Sunday school teacher, and home responsibilities. Have you ever sat down and thought about all your duties? Do you even know them? Maybe that’s why you’re literally “going in circles,” when you should just be “going in circle”…YOUR circle.

I’m going to address the older moms: The older we get, the smaller our “Mom portion” of our circle gets. From the moment our children leave home, whether it’s to study, marry, or follow a career, our circle of mom responsibilities becomes smaller. Other duties may take their place, but once Johnny or Susie leaves home, throw away the diapers.

I would like to write a later chapter on “Hedges,” the “circles” we make for our children. Hedges, like circles, provide security. If a child stays within protective hedges, he’ll be happier. And so it is with circles. When we live within our circle of responsibilities, well-defined duties, we live happier, more fulfilled lives. And I’ll tell you a little secret: so does everyone else. When your child marries, she has her own circle, much like yours. But it’s hers, not yours. I’ve gotten into more trouble by stepping into other circles! Do you know what happens simultaneously when you step into another circle that doesn’t belong to you? You’re stepping OUT of yours. You’re neglecting duties of your own, and attending to those that don’t belong to you. I once heard a pastor say (here I go again!) “The bad thing about sinning is not only the offense against God. When we sin, we’re not doing the good things we should be doing.” And that’s the way it is with circles. If you’re telling your daughter in law, let’s say, how to fix noodles without having them stick together, you’re missing out on the fun of playing with your baby grandson. Leave the noodle circle to her, and remember the grandma-grandson fun is inside your circle, once you become a granny.

Is this simple logic, or what? I think the title of this chapter should kindly be worded, “Keep your nose out of other people’s business.” Nosey grandmas, nosey mother in laws. It’s no wonder we’re classified as no-no’s. It’s because we’re no-no-nosey. And that’s the truth.

Write down everything contained within your circle. Your circle might look like this:

1. Christian: read Bible, pray, witness, attend church.
2. Wife: be submissive, iron shirts, fluff his pillows, cook his breakfast at 6:00, have his coffee and slippers ready when he walks through the door, wear his favorite perfume, put on a clean apron ten minutes before he comes home, etc. etc. etc.
3. Mom: bathe baby, supervise baths, brushing of teeth, monitor bowel movements (I’m very, very serious; do you keep up with that? If you don’t, you’re headed for trouble, and for the prune aisle!) home school, wash, iron, make beds, train child to make bed, wash dishes, train child to wash dishes, potty train, discipline, read Bible, teach Scriptures, and pray with children, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc……………
4. Homemaker: organize, clean, shop, garden, entertain, sew, cook, bake, decorate, pay bills, etc., etc.
5. Church member: teach Sunday school class, study, pray for members, visit members, visit elderly and sick, pray for pastor and family, show hospitality by preparing special meal for pastor, evangelist, etc.

Your circle may include other roles. If you’re a single mom, you may not have a wife role, but you play the father role, as well as Mom…you have to work to support your children, attend ball games, and teach your son to tie his tie.

It is beyond me how on earth a woman has time to step outside her circle, and into that of others. Think about this: has anyone ever annoyed you by telling you what to do? Unless you are under that person’s authority, I’ll tell you why: because they’re not minding their own circle of business. You can’t step inside another person’s circle without stepping outside yours. If that were possible, you would have to link the circles. And guess what you have when you link circles? Did you say chain? Don’t be guilty of chaining someone to you. Don’t step inside your husband’s circle when he lovingly disciplines your child. I won’t say what I’m thinking, but…well, yes I will: did you know that’s one of the causes of homosexuality? Dads with chains in their noses. A little boy begins to see his Dad as a wimp, and that’s the image he forms of himself…a feminine image. I read that somewhere. I didn’t make that up. “You keep your hands off him. He just threw his spinach across the room. What do you expect from a 5 year-old?” And we make our children to have a low esteem of their father, the authority figure in their lives. Take the chain out of Daddy’s nose, and get back into your own circle. Do you want to get a call in the middle of the night from the police station? Then right now, before that 5 year old can shoot a bowl of spinach turned gun, get out of Daddy’s circle. Go into the bedroom and close the door, and beg for mercy for your little son. But don’t interfere. We’re not talking child abuse here. If you know me at all, you know I would never approve of that. But loving discipline is part of Daddy’s circle, and yours, too, when he’s not around.

Did you know God has a circle? Part of God’s circle is calling people into full time service. I know people today who don’t serve the Lord, because Mama stepped into God’s circle when He wanted to use them in a special way when their hearts were young and tender toward Him. Mama discouraged them. I often wonder if Mama wishes she had stayed inside her own circle. God doesn’t push or shove. You want the reins? He won’t fight. But a mama that steps inside God’s circle causes her child to forfeit the peace that comes from living their life inside God’s perfect will. Don’t be guilty of that. I pray this prayer every day, “Help me never to do anything that would discourage him or her from serving You with all their heart.”

Well, you could CIRCLE the globe, and not find a mother who loves her circle more than I do mine. I think I enjoy grandmothering more than I did mothering. Half the work, twice the fun!


1 comment:

Jolene said...

Lovin' this book, Mom! So much wisdom... and even humor (never knew about the "stick with the clothespin" to keep your hands clean. :)

YOU have taught me, by example, the perfect balance of a mother-in-law in her children's lives. I hope I can be a mother-in-law like you one day!