"A few months ago, whenever we were with my parents I would randomly hear Jay call my mom “momma”. His words had just started to become more clear so I couldn’t tell if he was saying some variation of “grandma” or if he was really calling her “momma”. I would correct him and say “no, that’s grandma”. After several occasions, I have to admit, it started to make me a little sad. I didn’t want him calling anyone else mom. After all, I carried him in my belly looking like a large whale for 9 months, went through 40 hours of labor and lost countless hours of sleep when he was a newborn. I EARNED the title “momma” and I should be the only one he calls it! One day, I was upstairs at their house and wanted to ask my mom a question so I called out “Mom?” and what do you know, little Jay next to me says “MOMMA!” Finally, my question had been answered. He was simply copying what I said. A few months after that mystery had been solved I noticed it again, but with my husband. I would call out “Josiah” throughout the house. And just like before little Jay would call out “SIIIAHHH!” looking for his daddy. The only way I could seem to keep people’s names straight was to call them what I wanted Jay to call them. I’d start calling my mom “grandma” (or “mema” as he started calling her) and my husband “dad”. While a little strange at first, I realized I have a lot of influence over what comes out of his mouth and, to go a little deeper, how he acts. The game is called copycat and I need to be a good cat for him to copy.
I have experienced a lot of big revelations throughout my journey as a mom. The first came when I found out I was pregnant. Even though we were trying to get pregnant, when the stick showed a + sign, it just hit me. We. Are. Having. A. BABY! Next one came when little Jay kicked my belly for the first time. We. Are. Growing. A.HUMAN! Then I had one at about 8.5 months pregnant, when our midwife told us our little Jay was going to be around 9 pounds at birth. He. Is. Coming. Out. Of. WHERE? When Jay was about a year old, I looked at him one day and just saw myself in his eyes, his nose, his personality. He. Was. MY. Baby. The most recent revelation came a a couple weeks ago. He sees AND hears. EVERYTHING! That revelation held a lot of pressure for me. I realized that when his Sunday School teacher gives me an update on his behavior it is shaped by the behavior I either encourage or discourage at home. I realized that when he plays sports when he's older and his coach describes his attitude after a lost game, it’s the attitude that I’m displaying or lacking at home. I realized that when he gets married and his wife talks about all the wonderful things she loves about him, it will be influenced by the love and respect he sees from his mom and dad’s marriage. What kind of behavior do I want him to have when I’m not there? What kind of man do I want him to grow up to be?
As parents, we must say, act and BE who we want our kids to be. We cannot expect them to be more than we are. While it may happen anyways and while ultimately who are kids end up being is based on their choices, we have a big influence over that result. Recently, our pastor spoke on obedience. Specifically, on the importance of not only training your children to be obedient but for you, as an adult, to learn obedience as well. He cited Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” The main takeaway I got from the message was that, in order to teach something to my children, those principles, lessons, characteristics etc. need to be in my own heart. If I don’t know how to be obedient, my child won’t learn how to be obedient (at least not from me anyway).
Just thinking through all of the things I have yet to learn can make this feel discouraging. And quite frankly this could easily open up the door for excuses. I’m young. I’m a black female and our society works against me. I was abandoned as a child. Let me be very clear- these are all excuses. We have to remind ourselves that we are not a victim of our circumstances. I make choices. I have the freedom to make decisions and I have the power to choose to be a great example for my children. Don’t be discouraged by all the things you haven’t mastered yet. As you learn them, your children will learn them.
It is so exciting to think that just like your last name tells people who your family is, your children’s behavior can do the same. People’s positive opinions of your child can be attributed to you. You get all the credit. Well maybe not ALL the credit, but a good amount. Next week I’m going to share about my lesson in grace and forgiving myself for being an imperfect mom. So, even though you get the credit for the good, the bad, and the ugly part of your children, you don’t need to be perfect. You aren’t expected to be. That is not the standard. Just work every day to be your best. And since you're children are going to copy you no matter what you do, aim to have them copy your best self as much as possible. Keys to this are sleep, coffee and spa trips… in my opinion!
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