by: Angela C. Baker
Last week I had a dream that just won’t leave me alone. I want to share it with you. In the dream I saw different children at various ages and stages who were not my own. Some were very little about the age of three or four. Others were about ten and still others in their later teens. What I noticed most about these children is their imploring eyes. I cannot forget their eyes. During the dream I heard the words: “Stop, Mom.” I am not sure if it was the children that spoke these words or if I just felt them, but several times as I saw these children I heard these words urgently spoken: “Stop, Mom.” So that’s my dream and it won’t leave me alone. In wondering about the dream, I have had a few ideas come to me.
As home school mothers we take on a pretty big load. We want the best for our children. We want to be successful and we want our children to succeed as well. We want to do it right. That desire in itself is not the problem. The difficulty is our insecurities, worries, fears, and doubts that maybe we aren’t doing enough or aren’t good enough or that we need to do more and be more than we really are. These are the problem and they find their origin in the way we think about ourselves, our homes, our children, our home schools and the progress we think we are or aren’t making. This is where the stress of being a home school mother is found. This is where the ruthless drive to do, do, do comes from. This is where we lose the joy and become trapped in the mire of stress. And when we live in this place, what is most needful often gets neglected. Let me share some personal experiences to illustrate.
One evening after a busy home school day, my eleven year old daughter came to me. I was exhausted and felt like I had nothing left to give. In tears she said, “Mom, I just don’t feel like I get enough time with you.” I looked at her incredulously and quickly reviewed the day’s activities in my mind. I had been home all day and so had she. Then I realized that she had spent most of that day in her room reading and doing the crafts she loves to do. She had also “done” her school work and practiced her flute. I had passed her room many times through out the day and she seemed happy and content. All day I had been busy. The day had not been too different than others as I took care of the needs, details, and responsibilities that come at me day in and day out. Yes, I had been home all day, but I had not stopped. I thought she had been content to do what she was doing. When I stopped long enough to look into her eyes and hear her, I found out she was just keeping busy until maybe I would have time for her.
“Stop, Mom. Please, hear what I am not saying.”
Another evening I was in the kitchen finishing up with after dinner chores. The older children were at Mutual and the younger ones having finished their dish chores had gone outside to play. I was happy to be alone in my kitchen. Then I noticed six year old Hyrum playing quietly in the family room. He came into the kitchen and asked me if I would play a game of TAKE TWO. I told him I would as soon as I finished wiping the counters. He went back into the family room to wait and I continued to work. When the counters were wiped I noticed that Hyrum was contentedly looking at a book, so I decided to sweep the floor. When the floor was done, I glanced at Hyrum who was still happily involved in his book. So I thought I would just quickly put the dishes away. As I began to put the dishes away, I heard this distinct voice, “If you continue to work in your kitchen, Hyrum will get tired of waiting for you and he will go outside to find someone who will play with him.” I immediately stopped what I was doing and invited Hyrum to get the game. We had a delightful time together just me and Hyrum. I cannot remember if the kitchen got completely cleaned that night, but I remember the joy of playing with Hyrum. Something very important was happening between us as we played the game—the needful was being attended to and I found deep joy in it.
“Stop, Mom. I want to connect with you.”
My oldest daughter now seventeen has many times over the years said to me, “Mom, I don’t want you to be my teacher. I just want you to be my mom.” It is tricky to be both an educator to my own children and their mother. When she says this, I know I have some work to do on the relationship and that this must absolutely come first before school work of any kind. When the relationship is healthy and open, my daughter is self-motivated and focused on her school work and needs little prodding from me.
“Stop, Mom. See me for who I am, not what I do or don’t do.”
In the book Christy one of the main characters teaches us another aspect of what it means to stop.
“With a husband and five children to cook, clean, wash, even make clothes for, and with no modern conveniences at all, not even piped-in water, Fairlight might have felt burdened and sorry for herself—but she did not. Often she found time to pause in her dishwashing to let her eyes and her spirit drink in the beauty of a sunset. She would interrupt her work to call the children and revel with them in the grandeur of thunderheads piling up over the mountain peaks, heat lightning flashing behind the clouds like fireworks. “It lifts the heart,” she would say, and that was explanation enough for any interruption. There was always time for a story in front of the fire with the children snuggled against her; always leisure for the family to gather on the porch “to sing the moon up.” Fairlight told me how on the first fine spring day, she considered it only right and proper to drop her housework: “The house, it’s already been a-setin’ here for a hundred years. It’ll be right here tomorrow. It’s today I must be livin’”—and make her way to one particular spot she knew. There she would kneel and with her long slender fingers brush aside the dead, sodden leaves and gaze wonderingly on the first blossoms of the trailing arbutus” (Christy by Catherine Marshall; p. 209-10).
It is possible that the message of my dream is just for me, but I have a strong impression that it is a message for all of us. In the busy of the day and our efforts to educate our children, we each need to “stop” more often and make more room for what is most important in our lives—the people, the relationships, our husbands, our children, the quiet, the Spirit. Let the Spirit impress on our minds and hearts what is most important. The world mixes this up shouting: “Be busy! Attend to the “to do” lists!” The world measure success in outward appearances, but God’s work is people and people cannot always be adequately measured in outward ways or checked off the “to do” list. The world moves at a crazy, insane pace ignoring the most essential purpose of our lives: people. We can get in touch with what is most important when we stop and listen to what the eyes of our children are telling us. It is we, the mothers, who must be the change. There is more eternally at stake than we can imagine. Heed the message of my dream and “Stop, mom” in whatever form that takes for you.