On a recent Monday morning, I found myself rejoicing as I sent my kids off to school. It had been a weekend filled with drama, senseless arguments, and overall frustration for me as a mother. To top it off, the house had become a complete disaster zone. With each kid I dropped off at school, I felt as if a weight was being lifted from my shoulders.
Before I could even think of tackling the chores at home, though, I needed a stress relieving run. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, so that day I decided to listen to a podcast about motherhood as I ran. There was so much going through my mind, I didn't focus on most of what I heard. But one phrase stuck out: "Deliberate Motherhood."
I honestly couldn't tell you what the podcast said this meant, but it was such an interesting phrase it got me thinking. That morning I just couldn't wait to get my kids out of the house and out of my hair. I know all moms feel that way from time to time. Still, I wondered if I was deliberately being a mother to my kids, or if I was simply surviving each day.
I stearted looking at the day to day happenings in life, like school, homework, meals, sports, chores, shopping, playtime, etc. and all the issues that arise in the midst of it. I wondered if I use those events to purposely teach my children skills they need for life, or if I am just trying to check things off of a "to do list." Do I take advantage of teachable moments?
As I've tried to mother my children more "deliberately," I've realized that it doesn't necessarily mean making great changes to the things I am already doing. It's more about changing my attitude and sometimes my approach. I realize that even the little routine things we do are shaping the childhood memories my kids will have as adults.
When I welcome my kids home from school, by simply being sincere and taking a moment to stop and greet them, I am purposely helping them feel loved at home and happy to be here.
When we go to soccer practice, if I give them a few words of encouragement on the way or take time to ask meaningful questions about practice afterwards (and actually focus on their answers), then I am becoming a part of that soccer experience with them.
When they ask for help with homework, I can slow down and focus as I help them instead of just giving them rushed advice as I pass by.
I've found that changing my approach helps me to enjoy motherhood more and helps my kids to sense that I enjoy being a mom; that I enjoy being their mom. With the busy pace of life, it is easy to get caught up in just getting things done. If we can remember to get those things done with a purpose in mind, we are deliberately being the mom our kids need.
Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.