I have to admit...I was not a good babysitter in high school. I’m sure there are several adults from my hometown who would agree.
In middle school, I diligently read all of The Baby-sitters Club books to prepare myself for what I thought would be the best teen job ever. In junior high, I eagerly anticipated the day my parents would trust me to care for someone else’s children. Finally, when I was 15, I got my first call. I was thrilled and felt completely “grown.” All of my friends made entertaining kids look like a piece of cake. However, I quickly realized babysitting wasn’t for me.
Truthfully, I just wasn’t a natural when it came to spending time with children I didn’t know well. Some children had no discipline whatsoever, and I didn’t enjoy being around them. Most of all, I was terrified that we would run out of things to do and everyone would find out I was a failure. So, I would bring a huge bag with goodies to keep them busy, and then pray that their parents wouldn’t be gone long. I continually watched the clock and counted the minutes until I could be free to leave and go do my own thing.
Ironically, I later received a special education degree with a concentration in early childhood education. Then God grew my patience and love for children even more when He blessed me with four of my own –all critter-catching, mud-loving, destructive little boys.
Last week, as my older boys finished their schoolwork and my toddler went down for a nap, the house was finally still and quiet. I began folding the mountain of clothes I can’t seem to ever catch up on and suddenly heard Dr. Phil announce the title of his show: “COVID-19: Moms Gone Mad.”
He reported that moms around the country are taking to social media to rant about the fact that they are more afraid to be locked in their homes with their children than they are afraid of the actual virus. He went on to say that moms have been deemed with the impossible task of teaching their own children.
Now to be clear, I don’t normally watch Dr. Phil. His show just happened to come on after our governor’s press conference, but after hearing his introduction, I couldn’t resist watching. I actually watched the entire show – completely appalled and grieved by what I was seeing and hearing.
As their little ones listened in the background, the moms he interviewed complained that being bound in the house with their children was their absolute worst nightmare. They informed him they didn’t want to be responsible for their children’s education because that was someone else’s job. One mom unapologetically proclaimed on national television, that she’s completely losing her mind because this is not what she signed up for. The mothers agreed that being around their children 24/7 is too much to bear because they no longer have their “me time.”
Another mother confessed to Dr. Phil, as her child sat next to her, that she and her husband had lived a strict Christian lifestyle and wanted to let God give them as many kids as He saw fit. However, since she is actually having to raise them now, she says she definitely can’t handle her five children anymore.
“I’m not maternal,” she protested. “I like the thought of teaching them, but I loathe the daily routines. I find no joy in it.”
Sadly, these particular mothers represent a growing number of “modern moms” who very much resemble my younger self as a “wannabe babysitter.” They want children not because they want to disciple and nurture them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but because it’s the “American thing” to do. TV and social media make parenting look like it’s nothing but sweet smiles and delightful birthday parties, and, of course, the houses we see portrayed are always spotless and perfectly put together. However, as soon as parenting gets hard, houses get messy, and tantrums heat up, these self-seekers find any relative or extracurricular activity available so they can drop their kids off and go do their own thing.
Since these modern moms send their children to school for the majority of the day, then busy them with activities until bedtime, and finally send them to the grandparents’ house every weekend, they barely know their own children. They’ve figured out how to master the perfect family selfie in between ballgames and bedtime but have no idea how to discipline and rear their own children, because that’s actually become the teacher’s, coach’s, and grandparent’s responsibility. It’s no wonder lockdown is a miserable experience for them and their children as well!
Although the mentality shared among modern moms is multiplying, I want to clarify that not all moms are going mad, as Dr. Phil declares. These particular women do not represent all mothers. There are talented mothers who choose to work outside the home, and there are single mothers who work out of necessity – all managing careers and lovingly meeting the needs of their families while neglecting their own wishes. There are educated homemakers who willingly choose to put their careers on hold to teach their children and care for their homes around the clock. Full-time mothering is the most overworked and underpaid job there is. Being the heart of your home 24/7 is incredibly challenging, especially during these uncertain times, but it is where we are needed most and what we are most equipped by God to do.
I sincerely pray that all mothers will use this pause the pandemic has created to strengthen their families and display their love for their children.
Here are a few helpful tips seasoned mothers have passed down to me over the years:
- Start your day with prayer over your home and your children. Mothers make mistakes. We get discouraged, frustrated, and overwhelmed at times. Alone time with God is an essential key to being a good mother.
- Share Jesus with your children daily. Use this time to study the Word, memorize Scripture, pray, and prepare victorious warriors for this wicked world. Also, if we, mothers, model the character of Jesus, our husbands and children will take notice. Our homes will be happier and healthier.
- Shore up your foundation. Make your home the safest, most secure place in the world by making sure it is built on the solid Rock. These are scary times for adults, but also for our children. There should be no place children would rather be than home.
- Serve the Lord with thanksgiving and praise Him aloud for the abundant blessings He graciously gives. As we are in quarantine and the chores are unending, be thankful for your home, running water, your health, the ability to sweep the floor, and the messy children that eat crackers like mice. Have your family members list five different blessings every day until restrictions are lifted, but have fun and try not to repeat blessings!
- Scale back on social media. Stop looking at your phones, and start looking into the eyes of the ones God has entrusted you to disciple. You’ll be amazed at your increased connection with your family, contentedness, and productivity.
- Stress more about teaching character than curriculum. All subject areas are important and need to be taught, but what our children will remember most is our compassion toward our grocery store workers, our patience through trials, our gratitude for medical workers, the kindness we offer to strangers, etc.
- Strive for excellence, not perfection. Encourage your children to do their best in whatever is asked of them, but never expect perfection. It does not exist.
- Celebrate the time together. Laugh, play, make wonderful memories. That’s far more important than the dishes and dirty clothes.
There is no greater calling or more influential position in the world than being a mother. Whether mothers work within the home, outside the home, or are currently confined to the home, we must assure our children that they are blessings, not burdens. When we made the choice to bring a life into this world, we “signed up” for this.
Will your children remember their mother as their babysitter or as their parent?
“The child that never learns to obey his parents in the home will not obey God or man out of the home.”
-Susanna Wesley (mother of 19, buried 9 children, survived 2 house fires, endured poverty, successfully homeschooled 10 children, selflessly invested in her family, became known as the mother of Methodism)