In Case You Feel Like the Wrong Mama For Your Kids
Happy Monday–the day at Pruning Princesses where we soak in the wisdom of others. Today my sweet friend Amber returns. Grab your tea and enjoy!
I love MOPS. No, not the cleaning tool that goes along with a bucket! MOPS are moms. Moms of little kids. Moms who like to spend time together. Our official title is Mothers of Preschoolers. Twice a month I join this group of moms for a morning of talking, laughing, crying, learning and relaxing…all without kids! (I highly recommend you find a MOPS group in your area!) Several months ago a special speaker introduced our group to Gary Smalley’s personality test. We laughed and joked over our answers to the various questions as we waited to find out which personality type would best describe each of us.
Smalley’s test portrays each personality type by using animal comparisons. When all the results were tallied, we discovered that some moms were lions, some were otters, some were golden retrievers. Turns out I’m a beaver. Not my favorite animal comparison! All three of those other animal comparisons seem so much more appealing to me than a beaver! After all, a lion is strong, confident, a leader. Just think of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My daughter was inconsolable when she found out that Aslan was not real. He is her hero.
Then there’s the otter. Fun-loving, social, life-of-the-party. Who doesn’t like to have an otter around? And the golden retriever? What a friend! Loyal, compassionate. Yep, I like that personality, too.
Which brings us to the beaver. Details. Tasks. Organization. Not the life of the party. Not the leader. Not even associated with a picture of man’s best friend. Nope. With the beaver personality you get the lovely image of big teeth, a flat tail and gnawed-off trees.
As a kid, I hated my personality. I wanted to be the crazy otter. Or a leader. Anything other than what I was. As the years passed, I thought I had learned to thank God for the way he made me. But then I became a mom, and I began the comparison game again. I liked the confidence of lion moms. The spontaneity of otter moms. The warmth of golden retriever moms. My kids were missing out.
My kids got a beaver mom – the mom who creates spreadsheets for shopping lists, keeps the budget under control by recording every penny spent, prefers a bookshelf of kids’ books to a trip to the museum, finds fun in organizing paperwork and doesn’t like crafts because she can’t do them perfectly.
The more I compared, the worse I felt. I wondered what my kids saw when they looked at me. I wished I could look through their viewfinder.
Did they see my love through the way I kept our home organized? Was my love apparent in my attention to details? Or did they only see a mom busy doing tasks?
Finally I realized that the comparison game was stupid. Plain and simple. I might not be an otter, a golden retriever or a lion, but I could learn from those who were. I could overcome my dissatisfaction with our differences by thanking God for the different personalities he had given my friends and learning from their strengths.
For instance, I can ask lion friends for advice, knowing they will boldly (sometimes bluntly!) give honest feedback. My otter friends thrive on spontaneity, so using my love for details and their ideas, I can devise a plan for the implementation of fun. Not spontaneous, but it’s a step in the right direction! My golden retriever friends constantly remind me that nurturing goes beyond winning the laundry battle.
My friends make me a better mom, but I still at times felt that my kids were missing out. Then I studied the book of Titus, and the word goodkept popping up. Numerous times in this small book, commands are given to pursue and be devoted to doing good.
Before I am a mom, I am a daughter of Christ. He made me, and his design for me does not require me to act as spontaneous or as lion-like as my friends. What a freeing reality! He designed me to pursue good, not as a hobby, but with a passion fueled by my love for him.
I often think of “doing good” within the church community – taking meals to a mom with a new baby or teaching Sunday School. Definitely good things to do. But I can’t just dabble in doing good. If the pursuit of goodness is my passion, then it must be more than an occasional event. It must be my passion every day, all day.
And since I’m a stay-at-home mom, all-day every-day means life with my family. Doing good for me means living as a mom to the glory of God, whether I’m a beaver or a lion. It means giving time for cuddles, cleaning with a smile, listening attentively, providing ways for my kids to serve, praying for patience, teaching truth – purposefully seeking ways to “do good” to my family in order to point them to the Creator of all that is good.
I am not spontaneous. I am not a natural leader. I am a beaver mama with friends who are otters and lions and retrievers. I am convinced now that my kids are not missing out. God created them to be in our family, beaver mama and all. What will make them miss out is having a mom who does not live out her love for God. No amount of fun, organization, loyalty or boldness can make up for a mama neglecting her first love. A beaver mama doing good…now that’s the perfect mom for our family!
If you loved this post and missed Amber’s others, check out Girls and Boys and What a Youth Group Leader Wants Parents to Know.