Recently I was reflecting to myself on all the things having children has done for and to me. All that it has taught me - how it is shaping my life. And the phrase that summed it up for me was 'The Discipline of Children.' Having a child, or many children has instilled in my life certain disciplines that were near next to impossible for me to learn in any other way. Many people learn these disciplines without the aid of heel-nippers. But for me, these were a necessary part of my on-going education in the art of living.
The presence of children in my life has introduced many aspects of discipline into how I function.
Having children has disciplined my time, eating, spending, speaking, work ethic, entertainment choices, temper, habits, cleanliness, order, sleep, priorities and values.
My children, by God's grace, are disciplining me.
My nature is to eat, sleep, spend, and while away the hours however best suits ME. When you have children, that model doesn't work so well. Especially if you love them and long to see their lives formed into vessels of grace.
Before kids, I viewed all waking (and even sleeping) hours as my own to do with as I saw fit. If I wanted to shop, I would. There were no time constraints. I could peruse aisle after aisle in search of a perfect pink blouse. I was never in a rush if I didn't have to be. Shopping was a pleasure.
I could go to social events and hang out until the wee hours. I could read books at the library or at home after it closed. I could watch movies, talk on the phone and surf the internet. I could do all these things in the disposable hours of my days in whatever order I so desired. Children don't suit that model.
I learned the discipline of time usage. I'm not saying I've mastered it. Or that I've arrived. Or that the presence of children magically instills this discipline. But it sure helps.
On my own I would eat whatever I wanted. I wouldn't cook proper meals, except on the rare occasion that I felt like it. It just doesn't seem right to drag kids into this kind of model. Who serves chocolate chip cookies to kids for dinner? Nope - never done that. Being a Mom means some of our sloppy habits have to be waylaid - at first I thought 'for a while'. Then I changed my mind and decided eating cookies for supper should never be a way of life. It took me having kids to learn some of these obvious things.
Without kids I would sleep in late and go to bed late. I would take naps if I wanted to. I would enjoy my sleep and probably over-indulge. Not possible with kids. Unless you have some kind of miracle child(ren). I have had to learn the discipline of going to bed whenever I get the chance. And of waking up early enough to fix lunches and get them out the door. This Mom thing is like having a full-time job. Oh, wait. It is a full-time job. It's more than that. There are hour limits to most jobs. Being a Mom means you never clock-out. Like being a Dr. on call. Except you are counsellor, medic, dietitian, tutor, laundry-maid, cook, and policeman all at the same time.
Oh, and lest I forget, the discipline of children in my life has meant that I spend money in ways I never would naturally choose. I have spent precious dollars on diapers, happy-meals, juice boxes, toy-treasures, art supplies, shoes, kid books, doodads and trinkets, fire engines that make blaring noises, legos that I'm going to step on (barefoot!), kitchen snacks and treats, dress up clothes, birthday junk food...the list goes on. Spending money on some of these things has hurt my frugal feelings. But it has been a joy and pleasure to grow in thrifty-ness and to delight my children with some of these material blessings. Spending on me has become less of a priority as children have wiggled their way into my heart shifting my desires to theirs - no matter how small or ridiculous. (And in this matter, haven't I grown to see how an abundantly gracious Heavenly Father must delight to lavish gifts upon His children?)
How I speak has come under some heavy-handed discipline. My temper rages at times. And children can raise my ire. I come unglued. I lose it. I blow up. But after this happens I reflect in shameful remorse and realize I don't want my kids to live with this kind of Mom. I don't want my nastiness to be a shaping influence in their lives. I want my speech to be more disciplined. My temper to be tempered. If kids were not in my life, my temper and speech would probably go untested and also un-disciplined. The discipline of children has taught me repentance, humility and the need I have for a Redeeming Saviour, every day, every hour.
I am not very clean, orderly or organized. But I am far more than I ever was before. And I am always growing in these things. Having children has pushed me to be more clean and orderly. And I'm still miles from where I should be. They are teaching me the need for discipline in my home.
Yes, the discipline of children is indeed a marvellous thing. Just look at all the discipline I'm learning.
On a daily basis.
Won't you join me on this adventure of parenthood - where our children are gifts from God, in part for the disciplining of our hearts?