We had just sat down to eat dinner when my daughter shared, “Mom, I’m going to copy you when I grow up. When I have babies, and they wake up, I’m going to let them just cry until they fall asleep again.” This, just moments after I had laid my 4 1/2 month old son down in his crib for a nap, and he was letting everyone know he was not a fan. I explained to her why I let him fuss sometimes, and several minutes later, when all was peacefully quiet; I felt affirmed that yes, oftentimes you just need to let the baby cry himself to sleep.
This type of scenario is just one of many that occur daily. Mommy does -> child observes -> child imitates Mommy (or at least talks about doing so)
If I wear sunglasses in the car, 9 times out of 10, my little is in the back seat reaching for her pair at that very moment. As soon as I take mine off, hers come off too.
We recently watched my favorite Disney movie together. It is now, she claims, HER favorite one as well (but not really, but kind of, because she likes what Mommy likes.)
My little girl is a close observer of me. She seems to think quite fondly of me, which is all well and good; but honestly, it terrifies me to think of what she is learning simply by watching. What other parental advice is she going to implement someday when it’s her turn to be Mom? On a more general level, I wonder daily if I am modeling sound life choices that will positively impact the decisions she makes as an adult?
One time last summer, my husband asked her what she will do someday. She wants to be a wife and mom (among other things), and she proceeded to spout off just about every activity I partake in on a regular basis: “Oh, I’ll take care of my family, make food for them, go on walks with my kids, run for exercise…” In short, my daughter will grow up and find herself doing a lot of what I do now. I will always be one of her most influential role models, whether she will always like it or not.
It is a daunting role, this mothering thing. One that could easily crush me if I let it. I’m well aware of my faults. I’m not the perfect role model, nor will I ever be. We speak regularly to our daughter about this truth that no human is perfect; it’s the groundwork for understanding the Good News that Jesus lived perfectly for us and then willingly bore the punishment for our sin so that we could become blameless and pure children of God.
And it is this gospel that speaks to ME, especially on days when I feel the gravity of my responsibility as a momma to my babes. I’m not perfect, can’t ever be. Jesus is perfect for me, and He is enough. I now have a permanent status as God’s kid, the assurance of living with Him forever in His kingdom. This is the best news, indeed.
How, then, do I live in this economy of grace? My kids are watching me. I can feel my daughter’s eyes following my every move, taking note of both my words and deeds. And while my choices won’t determine my eternal destiny, they still matter. A lot. My kids are watching.
The best answer I can come up with is that I work hard; but it’s no longer for my sake to do so. I’m not trying to win or even maintain God’s approval of me through my mothering and living, because that approval has already been secured through Jesus Christ. I don’t need to second guess every decision or worry that I’m not living perfectly. I won’t ever be able to achieve that status on this side of heaven; I know that.
Instead, I work hard for their sake. I work for their good, keeping their best interest in my mind as I strive to set a good example for the future generation and aim to put the grace of God on display in my life and in my home.
The gospel is such good news. It reminds me that because I belong to God on the basis of Jesus’ good works, motherhood can be a joy for me and not a soul-crushing burden. But it does involve a lot of hard work. I have littles watching who need to know how to raise kids of their own someday.