Motherhood is like a maple tree. Numerous demands on our time and attention tap our sweet syrup. Our love pours out into little lives (and not-so-little lives), filling their buckets. But sometimes, we find our sap is slowing to a trickle.
This trend of needing at times, to intentionally choose to show love is common to all moms. So common, in fact, that the Bible addresses it. In Paul's letter to Titus , he encourages older women to train the younger women to love their husbands and their children? Doesn't that just come naturally? Why would anyone need to be trained in it?
I think I have a clue...
The Greek word for "love" in that text is "phileo," which is the friendship type of love. After the initial "I'm-so-in-love-with-you" feelings wear off (for either our husbands or our newborns, but I'll focus on our kids in this post), we could use help to keep on loving our children in the friendship sort of way. They can annoy us, disobey us, test our patience, and sometimes just plain drive us nuts. We love them unconditionally for life, but at times, we need training and encouragement to continue to like them, to love them in a friendship sort of way. (See this post for raising our kids so we like them). We still need to tap our sweet syrup into their lives in a cheerful way.
I love what Jean Blackmer has to say on this topic:
So when we find this type of love for our children needs to be poured out in a little higher concentration in our lives, where can we turn to find this practical help?"It's easier to love our children unconditionally when they are newborns. Nothing compares to that experience. And thank God he lets us experience that type of love for our babies--so that when they're toddlers throwing a temper tantrum at the park, we remember how much we love them, even though we might not feel it right at that moment...As time passes, we forget those days of snuggling with our baby. We forget the smell of the lotion we slather on their bodies. And we don't always feel love. Sometimes love becomes a choice. We choose to love even when we don't feel like it, and this choice will be easier if we practice loving intentionally." -- Jean Blackmer, MomSense: A Common-Sense Guide to Confident Mothering
- Our relationship with the Lord. Insight through Scripture, prayer and the Holy Spirit
- Older moms whom we admire
- Peer moms who can share what they're learning, what's helping them
- Inspirational books and articles on motherhood (I love aboverubies.org and the free Above Rubies newsletter, as well as Nancy Campbell's book The Power of Motherhood: What the Bible Says About Mothers)
- Teaching resources (audio messages on motherhood, etc.)
- Blog posts from Christian ministry leaders and others with a passionate heart toward mothering (I find so much encouragement at itakejoy.com)
In conclusion, choosing to love our kids in a friendly way does sometimes take a little intentionality. When they're pestering us with the same request for the 20th time in a day, or they're disobeying or otherwise irritating us, we're not allowed to just turn a cold shoulder, to shove the lid on our syrup bucket, and say, in essence, "No more kind love for you today." We need to train ourselves to love them in a friendly-sort-of way still.
Some posts I've loved lately are:
(linked up with Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers)