thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

expressing affection through acts of service

Here is a universal truth…..the very moment that a woman gives birth to her first child, mother guilt comes upon her.  One of my friends admitted to me that her mother guilt arrived even earlier.  “I purchased my first home pregnancy kit, buying the middle priced one in the store,”  she said.   “My mother guilt began in the car on the way home.  Should I have purchased the more expensive one, since, it is probably more accurate and then I will really know if I am pregnant and can take better care of my baby?  Or should I have purchased the cheaper one because we now have another mouth to feed and it would have been a more cost-effective purchase?”  I laughed but deep inside I understood.  As a mom, I have lived in guilt for 31 years, always measuring and remeasuring my actions and choices, desiring to best serve my family.  Honestly, if I lived with unscrupulous people, I could be so easily manipulated!
 
Receiving acts of service from a husband or children ministers to moms in a very special way and for some of us it is the way we are most likely to feel loved by them.  However, I think that, most often, moms are the ones on the giving end when it comes to acts of service.  So much of the mom job description involves serving her family…..changing diapers, washing dishes, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, shopping, cooking the meals,  planning for and teaching the children, interacting with the music teacher or coach, and driving to who knows where to lessons, practices, games, church activities, and events.  Many times, those actions are done out of a sense of duty and even from a deep inner feeling of guilt.  And many times these jobs are given to mom though, in reality, they shouldn’t be assigned to her just because she is mom!  But they get done by mom because, well, just because she is mom!
 
It doesn’t usually help, either, when we see someone’s list of what to do or how they do it.  Not long ago I saw a blog that outlined one woman’s daily chores and showed pictures of the cute dresses and crisply ironed aprons she wore every day as she performed them.  I was exhausted and discouraged before I got to lunch on her to-do chart!  And then it occurred to me that I, too, have a list of daily chores that I do, out of service to my own family, and that I am no slacker just because my list is different than hers and because I typically wear jeans when I do them!

We also have to realize that sometimes our acts of service are not really acts of service at all!  One of my friends tells the story of how, in her early years of marriage, she thought a gift of service for her husband would be to buy fruit when it was in season and can it for the winter months.  She spent hours at a pick-it-yourself farm and toted home bushels of fresh peaches.  She labored for days cleaning, slicing, processing and storing dozens of quarts of peaches only to discover what little value her husband placed on homemade canned peaches, even preferring the canned ones from Aldi!  She told me that she learned that doing other things to help him, especially the household paperwork, meant more to him and was what demonstrated her service and love to him.  You see, she learned that acts of service need to be those things that honestly and genuinely serve another person.

Children need to know that we are willing to serve them as well, beyond the acts that are part of the job description of “mom.”  Occasionally doing their chores for them so they can go somewhere they would like to go expresses your love in an unexpected way.  My husband’s act of service every day is to drive our sons on their paper route.  But a special act of service for them is when he and I get up early on a Saturday morning and deliver the papers for them so they can sleep in! 

Acts of service also involve keeping perspective and maintaining a joyous attitude.  We can fold underwear until the cows come home, but if we do so with a grudging spirit, it isn’t an act of service or love to our families.  I say this because in my home, the one chore I struggle with perpetually is laundry.  It is never done and though I have tried any number of systems, because it is in the basement, it is often out of sight and therefore out of mind until I hear someone say “Hey, anyone know where there are any clean white socks?”  It is often easy to feel resentful about washing someone else’s dirty socks.  It is then that I try to remember that Jesus washed someone else’s dirty feet!

You see, it is in keeping in front of us the ultimate act of service of Jesus that we can really enjoy doing things for others, free from doing so out of a feeling of guilt or a sense of duty.  I so love this passage from Philippians 2:  “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death on a cross!”

My prayer today is that as we walk with our families today, we will see them with fresh eyes to see how best we can serve them and in so doing serve Jesus.

Copyright 2007

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5 Comments»

  Deanne wrote @

Karen! I just LOVE this!! You know, it is so funny that our “Great minds do think alike”~smile~I got a wonderful chuckle from your friend who canned….as I have had similar experiences with my homemade bread baking..my husband does love my home made bread, but it is NOT on his list of priorities of things he would like me to do as his “help-meet”..so, we now eat fresh baked bread less often and buy bread at the Butternut outlet to free my time for what is important to Manuel.
Great article Karen, I can’t wait to see you at the Peoria convention!
Love Deanne

  thatmom wrote @

Deanne,

I am really chuckling now! Clay loves it when I bake homemade bread and it is a priority over other things to him! Isn’t that funny?!?!?!?!?! I hadn’t baked bread for a long time and on our last anniversary I gave him a coupon for a loaf each week for a year. I think it was the best gift I ever gave him!

  James Lansberry wrote @

Mmmm. Homemade bread. I look forward to the day soon when Theresa and Moriah can work together on bread and we’ll have it more often. But days come with different struggles.

Congrats on the new Greene Grandbaby on the way.

  thatmom wrote @

Hi James!

How about dinner on our deck when the weather warms up and I will be sure to have homemade bread?

Actually, we will be triply blessed in 2007. Sam and Janell just welcomed baby Vienna and Clayton and Stacie are expecting a little one in November! The word exponential comes to mind! 🙂

Welcome to my new blog, by the way!

  James Lansberry wrote @

Very cool! Three grandbabies! BWAHHAHAHAHAHa

And we’d love to have dinner agian. Let us know what works for you and I’ll fit it in around travels.

James


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