Get your hardhats on Mamas and move over Bob; whether you realize it or not, we mothers are builders. We knew going in we would need to hone certain skills to be great moms… the ability to stay calm in chaos, the capacity to stay organized, the strength to discipline when needed, the patience of Job. But little did we know that mothering would also require the fine art of architecture.
Personally, I prefer wedges over work boots and we all know that Ray-Bans are cuter than regulation safety glasses, but hey, we do what we have to do. And what we have to do is build. From the day we bring them home until the day they jump the nest, we strive toward one consistent, at times exhausting, goal: the construction of a well made, long-lasting bridge for our children to walk safely, securely and successfully from childhood to adulthood.
The days of mommyhood are long, but the years fly by, and before we know it, our kids are letting go of our hands and racing ahead of us to cross the bridge. And we are left to watch and wait and wonder… Is it sturdy? Will it hold? Did we build well enough? Did we use the right equipment? To keep building confidently, try adding these tips to your construction plans…
Encourage independence. Whether it’s their first day of preschool, or their first night in a college dorm, make sure to send a positive, reassuring message about your children’s self-sufficiency. As heartbreaking as it can be for us, cheer on those (healthy, safe and appropriate) steps toward autonomy. Go ahead and cry your heart out with girlfriends the first time your little boy runs off to the kindergarten playground without a kiss or a hug, or your teenage daughter tells her besties about being asked to Prom before she tells you. It’s okay, we understand. But ensure a strong foundation for your kids’ bridge by letting go willingly and giving them the confidence they need to eventually cross without you.
Insist on responsibility. From making their beds to making good grades, in order to construct a durable bridge, demand accountability. There is a big difference between asking for help (which is always welcome in our home) and expecting someone else to take care of things altogether. Remember, Mama, every time you refuse to do everything for your children you are nailing down another durable plank of wood. Resist the temptation to fix every problem. Stop yourself from jumping in immediately when a difficult situation arises. Allowing our kids to feel the pressure of an unfinished task or the sting of negative consequences adds extra support beams and stabilizes the supports of a well-constructed bridge.
Love unconditionally. While we may not approve of every one of our kids’ choices, from toddlerhood to teen years, we should not, cannot, let their behavior dictate our acceptance. They will fail at times, no doubt. At some point, they will disappoint us with poor choices. But a durable bridge is held up with truckloads of grace. And I’m not talking about pretend grace, the kind that puts a smile on the outside but inside stews and mutters and frets. True grace, choosing to extend undeserved forgiveness, not only shows our kids the value of offering mercy to others, it gives them the solid footing they desperately need to get back up and keep walking.
Lead them to God’s Word. Keep your tool belt fastened Moms, because reading, teaching, relying on and soaking up scripture is the nuts and bolts of your child’s bridge. Without biblical truth, it’s simply a rickety structure, ready to collapse with the slightest bit of pressure or first heavy rain. When the clouds roll in, as they always do, our kids need a lamp to their feet and a light to their path (Psalm 119:105). Crossing productively into the grownup world is never easy, but it’s a lighter journey if it’s based on His love, sovereignty, wisdom and power. Imparting the knowledge of God to our children is the most secure foundation we can possibly provide.
Now that’s a solid bridge, Mama. Keep building. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)