We all grew up with sayings…
I’m sure you’ve heard the timeless:
“If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
My experience of today’s “We get what we get and we don’t throw a fit.” was a little more gruff:
“Well, life’s not fair. Tough.”
Perhaps the most non-politically correct of all was:
“I brought you into this world…I can take you out of it.”
(Because moms don’t really have the right to take their children out. Unless they want to do some serious jail-time.)
I chuckle as I think back on some of the sayings that I grew up with... Then I began to write down all the sayings that I’ve found myself using with my own children. I’ve deemed them shareable, so here’s the start of the Momma Says Series. I hope these will encourage you - and perhaps challenge you.
“If you make a mess, you make it right.”
It’s the first step towards accountability.
I’ve been babysitting since I was 8. Occasionally, I would spend the night with my two younger cousins and make them Mac & Cheese and hot dogs for lunch, read them books, and engage them in their basement that served as their Toy Room (which really meant me tricking them into cleaning it).
I was always amazed when my younger cousin would help himself to something from the fridge if he was still hungry - as well as load his favorite Barney movie on VHS into the VCR player. He was 4.
I’ve also babysat for children who didn’t know how to get anything for themselves - let alone know how to press the play button. They were used to everyone else getting it, making it, finding it, cleaning it, and putting it away for them. It was entitlement at its finest.
I’ve taken notes on both worlds and have landed on this decision: I will serve my children with a joyful, happy heart. In the very same breath, I will not do them a disservice by serving them to the point of failure. I will set them up for success for the day they leave me.
I’m raising adults. Not children.
Now, we know that our children don’t stay small forever. But for whatever reason, it’s a little harder to come to grips that we don’t get to keep them. That reality is the absolute worst part of motherhood. It’s “Catch and Release” on steroids - marked by bitter-sweet.
We get our children only for a short, short while, and then…we must let them go. They need to be encouraged to leave the nest. To stretch their wings. And soar.
God’s design is found in Genesis 2:24
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
And in order for that to happen - we must take an innumerable amount of steps backwards. The process begins the very day they are born and placed on our chests...
We eventually wean them. Sleep-train them. Teach them how to tie their own shoes. And how to wipe their own butts.
They learn how to read and write. Add and subtract. Multiply and divide. And finally how to manage a bank account and why the colors red and black are so meaningful.
When you find yourself in the trenches of motherhood, it’s important to understand two things:
#1 Children are messy.
…with their sticky fingers, snotty noses, milk mustaches, smeared sleeves, and syrup in their hair.
There’s a lot of messy.
#2 Children make messes.
…they knock over their block towers, dump out their crackers, spill their milk, strew their clothes across the bedroom floor, gunk up the bathroom sink with their sparkly-blue toothpaste, leave their markers lid-less, and somehow manage to leave their Legos in the most highly-trafficked area of the house.
There’s a lot of messes.
Children and messes go hand in hand. And you can’t seem to have one without the other.
And because messes accompany children - so will a whole slew of opportunities of teaching-moments of stewardship, responsibility, and accountability.
As my children continue to grow and mature, I hold them accountable to more and more of their mess. They often hear me say:
“If you make a mess, you make it right.”
In the process, they become aware that their little world doesn’t revolve around Momma being at their beck and call. They learn to take responsibility for their actions. They realize that they also have two hands and feet and can help themselves - as well as help out when it’s an “all hands on deck” type of scramble.
When they eat a mint or cough drop and leave the wrapper on the counter or floor - “If you make a mess, you make it right.”
When they leave their toy cars, Legos, and markers sprawled out across the floor - “If you make a mess, you make it right.”
When they deeply offend someone, and need to apologize and ask for forgiveness - “If you make a mess, you make it right.”
Hold your children accountable to their mess.
Raise responsible adults. Not entitled children.