Some little girls dream of being a princess, maybe a teacher or possibly a veterinarian. I had a different dream, I wanted to be a mom. I will not say "just a mom" because in all actuality, this job is probably equivalent to a job as a CEO of a major corporation just without the substantial salary.
Yes that is a lot to process for an 8 year old, but I'm truly an old soul and have always been a planner.
As I got older I realized that being a great mom meant more than my child like thoughts. Being a great mom meant that I needed to be intentional. It meant showing the love of Christ through my actions.
When I became a mom, as I grew in my faith, I decided that being an intentional mom looked like being present, available, fair and forgiving. These things together encompassed the unconditional love of God for me, a love that I wanted to show to my children.
Throughout my journey as a mom I have had high and low moments. I have made dumb decisions and completely messed up. There were times I lost focus and got distracted. However, I asked God to help me refocus and lead me back to my goal of being example of Christ for my children.
The best conversations seem to happen in the car when we're alone. There have been times that my daughter will ask me to turn off the music so we can talk. With the boys I loved picking them up after a school or a church activity to hear all of the details. I remember one time specifically when Steven went to Youth Camp and he literally walked me through the entire week day by day, meals and activities included. Although I hadn't gone to camp, I didn't feel left out. I always felt in the loop.
Being present means being there mentally not just physically. It means truly listening while your child is talking to you. It means taking an interest in what interests them and being able to have a half way decent conversation about it. Don't get me wrong listening to the details about a video game or a card game can be confusing but at least try. Treat them the way you'd like your husband to treat you when you're talking about something you're passionate about.
On the other side of my kitchen sink I have a set of stools. Since I'm pretty much always in the kitchen, the kids know they can find me there. Those stools and a favorite snack have inspired many conversations. Usually after school as I was cooking dinner someone would come to the kitchen and sit on a stool and start to talk. Sometimes it was small talk and sometimes it was serious stuff. They always knew where they could find me and yummy snacks.
Being available is being there as a "friend" when they need it. It's being a listening ear when they are having a problem or have a concern. It's listening to the latest BIG thing that is happening in their life, while you're trying to figure out what to cook for dinner. It's having an "open door policy" no matter the time of day.
In our house I don't have favorites. I know you're thinking, well no one should, but none the less it happens. If there was a situation happening I was beige, about as neutral as I could be. I helped them see the other person's perspective and some times actually helped them to settle their own problems. We used rock paper scissors to end shower debates and always took turns with everything. No one was better than anyone. I truly showed them how to live by the golden rule.
Children have a hard time mediating their own emotions. There are times that they can only see things from their perspective. By being a fair parent you can model for them how to look at both sides and come up with a fair solution to the problem.
My son is the king of trying to find loopholes. If I made a rule I could see the wheels turning trying to figure a way out. He made his fair share of mistakes and now we laugh about some of them. But at the moment almost instantly I forgave him and we moved on.
Forgiving someone means that you don't bring it up again to use it against them. It means not looking at the past it means looking towards the future. It's really easy to look at their past failures and feel like they'll never get it, but one day they will and your forgiveness will play a part in it.
Being an intentional mom means beginning with the end in mind. You can't possibly predict every situation but you can control your reaction. I have found that this is what my kids remember more than anything else. They know that I can be trusted to stay calm and listen before I speak.(James 1:19)
I'm praying for you!
Suggested Reading:5 Crucial Things Every Child Needs
How to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child
How I Guided My Strong Willed Child
How to Choose Calm Reactions Over Yelling