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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Four in a Million Ways to Be a Good Mom

By Jodi Detirck
May 9. 2010

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.” I don’t know who came up with this saying, but I like it.

That has always given me hope, especially when my kids were in their growing up years and perfection as a mom wasn’t even on my radar screen. There were too many evidences of my imperfections to even entertain that impossible dream.

I still remember one wintry afternoon when I forgot that my youngest had early release from school. The front door was locked when she got off the bus. With no one home and nothing else to do, Jana decided to rescue her cat from the roof of the little pump house attached to our garage. Going up was easy. The cat made it down fine, but when I got home about an hour later, my poor little girl was still blubbering and shivering on the roof of the shed! There went my hopes of ever earning “Mother of the Year”!

Thankfully, all three of my children survived to adulthood, despite my foibles and failures. They’ve all been gracious enough to express gratitude for how they were raised, and nothing means more to me than hearing them say that I’ve been a good mother. (No one used the word perfect. Sigh!)

So, what are some of those million ways to be a good mother? Here are a few I believe will help counterbalance the I-let-my-child-get-stuck-on-the-roof moments:

1. Good mothers laugh … a lot! Proverbs 31:28 says that the children of the virtuous woman will rise up and call her blessed. One meaning of the word blessed is happy. I’ve always wanted my children to have memories of a happy mom to take with them into the seriousness of adulthood. And, personally, I can’t imagine surviving parenthood without a sense of humor.

Life in any family can get hard and painful at times. An alert mom will find many reasons to laugh when kids are part of the equation. So when my son asked questions like, “Do spiders spit?” and “Who invented stairs?” I just smiled and inwardly thanked God for another dose of merry-heart medicine (Proverbs 17:22).

Being able to laugh — with my kids and at myself — has turned around many tense moments in our house. There was the red crayon one of my offspring “lost” in the foot of her blanket sleepers that showed up in the dryer with my new, sparkling white comforter (an anniversary gift from my husband). My comforter looked like someone had been murdered on it. I had a choice: cry, blow up in anger, or laugh. I’m now thankful I chose to laugh. New comforters get old and ragged and are tossed away or used to wrap furniture when you move. But the memory of a laughing mother will linger in the hearts of her children.

That’s good.

2. Good mothers pray. Sadly, there are plenty of times when motherhood is no laughing matter. Right after our son, Mark, was born, he would turn a deep, dusky blue color whenever he cried. The doctors suspected a heart condition. My own mother-heart was filled with anxiety as our precious little son was put through a series of tests and readied for transport to a large children’s hospital. I will never forget the earnest prayers I prayed for him (joining my husband and many others) through the long hours and the joy I felt at hearing he was going to be fine.

I can’t even begin to add up the prayers I’ve prayed over my kids through the years (and I haven’t stopped). I know God is keeping track, though. When they were running a fever or running toward some accomplishment, I prayed. When their feelings had been hurt or their hearts were broken, I prayed. When they struggled in school or floundered in their faith, I prayed (still am). When they got a new girlfriend or boyfriend, or didn’t get a girlfriend or boyfriend, I prayed. When they were late getting home at night and forgot to call, I prayed. (Boy, did I pray!)

I can’t fix all the brokenness of a fallen world for my children. I wish I could and sometimes have been known to try. But I can pray, knowing that God can fix the brokenness in them that comes from living in this fallen world.

That’s good.

3. Good mothers capture moments. When my kids were toddlers, older women would say things like, “Enjoy this time with your little ones. It goes so fast!” I’d smile and agree, but inwardly I’d be thinking, Yeah, right! It will be forever before we’re even out of the diaper stage.

Somewhere along the way, though, I began to grasp the truth of the wise advice I’d been given. I began to wish I could “freeze-frame” certain moments with our kids, just suspend time and make things stay the way they were for a while. I started saying a phrase that I’m sure my adult children remember to this day: “This is a moment!”

When we were playing a game where everyone was laughing hysterically, or viewing an old movie together … this is a moment. When we were eating ice cream on a hot summer night and watching for falling stars … this is a moment. When we were celebrating a family member’s birthday or reading a story aloud at bedtime … this is a moment.

There is no “pause” button when it comes to parenting. A good mother learns to savor the everyday moments with her children instead of wishing away the fleeting years of childhood. Ephesians 5:16 talks about “redeeming the time,” or “making the most of every opportunity.” That is vitally important in the home, even though the “daily-ness” of family life can leave us without a sense of urgency and trick us into thinking we have all the time in the world. We don’t, and we need to watch for those sweet moments of joy in everyday living where we can say, “This is a moment.”

That’s good.

4. Good mothers look to God for their “goodness.” As I said earlier, I haven’t achieved perfection in parenthood. I never will, and neither will you. But we’re not alone. I learned a long time ago that, not only was I saved by grace and mercy, I also parent by grace and mercy. When I have failed as a parent, I can go to God’s merciful heart for forgiveness and a new start. In those areas where I’m sorely lacking (patience, wisdom, strength), I can rely on God’s grace to develop in me what is needed day by day. In my attempt to be a good mother, it gives me confidence to know that goodness is a fruit of the Spirit, one that I can grow as I stay attached to Him. That’s really good — and that’s God!


JODI DETRICK, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, is a mother of three (plus a son-in-law) and a grandmother of two. She also writes a regular column for The Seattle Times.

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