Mothers, give yourselves a Mother’s Day gift: sit back and really let these words sink in…
Less is more
Poet Robert Browning first wrote those words and I often say them in a moment of blessed clarity. Those three words frequently relieve this mother’s worry, want and feelings of worthlessness.
A lot of mother-guilt comes from too many options—too many things the world says we could or should be doing with our kids. All of those things that other moms are doing. The burden of decision seems to be entirely on mothers’ shoulders.
Here’s a Mother’s Day gift—peace
I have had to work through a lot of that guilt and decision over the years as a homeschooling mother—homeschooling mothers can be some of the most guilt ridden humans on earth. What have I done or what haven’t I done can be the nagging question.
True peace about this finally came a few years ago with the knowledge that every family, like every person, has their “tendency”—or the special way God designed them. Here are two encouraging verses with that idea:
1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Corinthians 12:4-7: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of services, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Take note here of something of first importance: all people were designed to live their lives for God’s glory, for the common good and to be His faithful stewards. Our children are primarily His and our main goal in parenting should be to direct our children onto to His paths.
To the world it may look like a lesser path and all sorts of “more” is offered…what a distraction!
Ignore the “more”
Keep things simple by shining in the ways your family was designed to shine. Don’t try to do all the things others are doing unless it is a good fit for your family.
Our family “shines” in the dirt.
Look for your family’s “knack” and enjoy it!
Back to our backstory for a moment: the birth of our second child, my other favorite child, KH. Another miracle of God to add to our family. Dark hair, Irish eyes, chewing on his toes at birth—yep, he must take after my husband!
I mentioned the timing of his birth in my last post, around the time of the Shuttle Columbia disaster. He was my quickest birth—he nearly arrived at Red Lobster and then did arrive only moments after we got to the hospital. Soon after, once everything was under control on the home front, my husband was able to take his crews down to Texas to help clean up the disaster.
A month or so later, the boys and I traveled down to Nacogdoches, Texas to visit My Man. KH was an easy traveler—just play with his hair or rub his back and he’s tranquilized. This was another indication that he was going to be a lot like his dad!
Born expert on anything outdoors or “wild”
The need for back rubs, his “General” personality and a connection with the “wild” would all begin to surface in KH as the years went by—showing strong similarities to My Man.
KH has a natural expertise in all things outdoors, like his dad. He retains what he reads very well, especially when it comes to animals. This was where the relief came with my homeschooling burden: expose the children to all the knowledge and then watch to see where their talents and interests lie.
All of our kids love the outdoors and learning about it, but KH has a voracious appetite for learning all the details.
Children, or families, are not one-size-fits-all, God has a unique plan for each of them
“Less is more” parenting offers freedom from trying to force everything on a child. Too much only creates anxiety. Offer the possibilities, but then help them hone in on their expertise.
If you read this blog you will know by now that our family’s expertise can probably be summed up in the words: faith, adventure and hard work. Our homeschooling friends have other mixtures of expertise and for years I watched them—feeling inferior and inadequate. My husband helped me to stop comparing our situation to other’s.
Mothers should take advantage of the “strong shoulders” of fathers
I needed to take the burden time and time again to God, which meant letting my husband shoulder it. The interesting thing is: My Man has always embraced our family’s individuality—no worry there! He is a constant source of reassurance and wisdom. My Man has a boldness and confidence that comes from trusting in God’s plan—I just needed to look to my husband and draw from his strength.
Leave the burden with him.
Catch his vision and run with it.
Run wild with it
While KH was learning to walk, and after setting our land speed record on the Black Rock, our Nevada friends suggested we drive down to Baja. Do you remember my regret for missing My Man’s first Baja run in a motorhome? It was Baja or Bust this time!
Baja or Bust!
The trip was amazing—I was like a child at a new playground. Desert meets ocean, what could be better?! Our Nevada friends didn’t have children yet so ours got double the attention. We parked on the beach at Punta Chivato, and kayaked, fished and explored.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Hiller adventure without a challenge
KH had his first high fever while we were down there. I wasn’t too worried because he was acting normal. Then, one moment he was holding himself up to look out the window, and the next he was having a grand mal seizure. Our friend went for help and, before long, we had a Long Beach physician headed our way in a dune buggy for a “home visit”. He reassured us that, even though it was an unusually severe febrile seizure, KH would be fine.
And he was. By the next day he was using his baby sign language to beg for more beans and rice. He also took his first steps in the motorhome on that trip.
A sweet side—also inherited from My Man
SHHHH, KH is a teenager and still hangs out with me. My mother-in-law shared that my husband was the same way. A “General” must need that extra togetherness while they are young so they will be bold enough to face the world…and lead it.
The “less” can be the “letting go and letting God”
So how can we have the assurance that our “less” is enough when the world constantly tells us we need “more”?
The assurance can come from asking God to help us do our best and then leave the rest to Him. Find the specialty in your own family and do it well, for God’s glory.
You can’t do the few things well if you are trying to do everything.
Also, ask God to use mistakes for good. He has promised to do that for His children and has the power to make it happen.
Seek your husband’s wisdom—that burden is meant for his shoulders.
Don’t look back—keep your eyes on God’s promises
This poem hangs on my wall and its simplicity has been a great encouragement to me over the years. I usually post it on Facebook around Mother’s Day. If you are still in the thick of parenting I hope the poem will inspire you. If you are past those years, I hope it will free you from regret—what you gave your children was most likely the best you could give.
We can’t give more than our best
“Train Up A Child”, Anonymous:
She could not give her children gold
So she gave them faith to have and hold.
She could not give them royal birth…
A name renowned throughout the earth.
But she gave them seeds and a garden spot
And shade trees when the sun was hot.
She could not give a silver spoon
Or servants waiting night and noon.
She gave them love and a listening ear
And told them God was always near.
She could not give them ocean trips
Aboard majestic sailing ships,
But she gave them books and quiet time.
Adventures found in prose and rhyme.
She could not give them worldly things
But what she gave was fit for kings.
For with her faith and book and sod
She made each child aware of God.
The poem makes it sound simple doesn’t it? That is why I love it.
Cultivating children is like cultivating a garden—only a few ingredients are necessary. The local garden center may tell you a lot more is needed, but there are only a few vital components.
KH has been one to thrive on those few vital components: faith, wisdom and sod. I thought back to the time he planted a field of wheat. It cost less than a night at the movies, but the yield was enormous.
The payoff is in the harvest
Weed through the “more” and find the “less” that has true value.
God will multiply the “less” in His way. The way that is eternal.
2 Corinthians 9:10:
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”