Chalk-art modeling. Cute candids. Photo bomber.
These kids? They are my job.
Obviously, in every job, there are parts that we love and are passionate about (I hope). Likewise, there are parts of our job we are less enamored with. The same applies to being a mom. I love the hugs, the laughs, the snuggles, the warm baby-breath and sweet-skin smell. I love teaching them new things and seeing them "get it", hearing their prayers and seeing how their creativity expresses itself.
I gotta be honest, though - there are a few things I don't love. I'm not terribly fond of the diapers (that I've been changing for more than a decade, now), I don't care for the endless questions and invasion of my headspace, and I can't stand the temper tantrums (mine or theirs).
For a long time, I've focused on the parts of my job that I didn't like and have the tendency to moan and complain about them. But you know, the real professionals that love and excel at their jobs, they don't do that. They approach their jobs with passion and joy, determined to do their best and seek to grow in the need-improvement areas. I want to do that - I want to parent like a pro.
There is one difference, though - even the pros get to go home at the end of the day. If you've made motherhood your job (and if you have a child, you have), whether you work outside the home or you're home all day, you don't get to leave your job. There's no checking out, calling in sick or taking a break. Whether you get away for a night on your own or are holed up in the local coffee bar for a couple hours, you are always a mom, always on call. So, how do you maintain passion, enthusiasm, and joy in a 24/7/365 job?
You soak in the gospel. Seriously. For some church folks, this can sound like a cliché, but it's the total truth, because as soon as you get distracted from the knowledge that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, you'll either slide toward self-sufficiency or despair. Both are just rocky cliffs with nothing good at the bottom.
You connect. The smartest people are those who know they don't know everything, so they have people speak into their lives, both to encourage and correct. The Bible calls this fellowship, and whoever you are, you need it. And don't be tempted to think that gossiping with a "co-worker" about your crazy "subordinates" is what we're talking about here - fellowship means being open and honest about your struggles and being willing to ask for help, prayer and counsel. It also means celebrating joys and triumphs with those who really care that little Johnny just peed on the potty, 'cause man, that's huge.
You remember that "one day" is coming. I know it seems like "retirement" will never come, that the kids will never sleep through the night and these tantrums (from toddler or teenager) will never change, but I'll wager that before you (and I) know it, they'll be calling us and asking what to do with their own kids' tantrums and 'tudes. And when it seems like fruit is slow to grow, remember the gardener that faithfully and lovingly tends his tender plants - not to get fruit right then, but in its due season. For we harvest more than we sow, later than we sow.
They are my job, these kids. I want to parent them like a pro.