What Have I Learned as a Mom?

Last week while considering the role of mother, we concluded the role of motherhood is one of self-denial.
Although that appears on the surface that it’s all about self-denial, there’s more to it than that.
Seeking God’s glory by obeying His ways brings rewards that we can’t imagine.
The world tells you that you waste your education by being a mom.
I'd like to discount that fallacy in this article. As a mom, I need every bit of education to be a mom.
Some of that education comes in ways I never considered.

Must you give up an education to become a mom?
Think again.
I’ve learned more football than I probably wanted to learn.
I’ve learned the hard way that keeping animals means finding dead animals.
I’ve learned a simple project always takes longer than you thought, takes more materials than you anticipated, and more tools than you have.
I’ve learned a simple project with children is never simple. But we learn a lot. Most is patience.
I’ve learned laying cement is harder than it looks.
I’ve learned it helps to have the right tools to do the job right. (Doing cement with a measuring cup is not time efficient, but it does help you get the right consistency.)
I’ve learned to focus on my boys' strengths. (Our odd numbered boys: first, third, fifth, seventh do better with mechanical things. They changed the brakes, rotate the tires and change the oil on our cars when they were young. They preferred grease under their fingernails. Whereas our even numbered boys: second, fourth, sixth, eighth cared for our animals in more than a perfunctory way. They smelled of the barn, and liked it.)
I’ve learned I don’t like grease under my fingernails, but I can wash it out, eventually. And I appreciate the boys much better who do.
I’ve learned I don’t like barnyard smells, especially pigs, in my house. And I also appreciate those boys who deal with them. But I do like the meat they bring.
I’ve learned cows can die of too much of a good thing—fruit pits scrape their intestines and old cherries ferment their guts.
I’ve learned cows can die of just a little of the wrong thing—Oleander (a flower) is toxic in small quantities.
I’ve learned goats will eat poison rather than stay where the grass is greener. But they will still live.
I’ve learned staking goats on good pasture is harder than it looks.
I’ve learned as soon as you put out rodent poison, horses will find it and so will goats.
I’ve learned three goats are harder to milk than one cow.
I’ve learned rabbits only repopulate the earth when they are wild, not when you try raising them.
I’ve learned being nice to squirrels can get your brake line chewed and your truck towed.
I’ve learned raccoons can kill 50 baby chicks in one night.
I've learned skunk smell lingers a long time in a garage after they are trapped behind the freezer for one night.
I’ve learned worm farms work better when you give up and throw the dirt in your garden.
I’ve learned fishing is more than just winging a line with a worm in the water.
I’ve learned horses know when you don’t know what you're doing…and like children, they will take all they can get. They'll step on your feet and refuse to move while your son learns to give shots.
I’ve learned dogs, like children, know when you don’t want to enforce a rule. They’ll sneak inside until their entire body rests on the rug in complete rebellion to your wishes.
I’ve learned a gopher can eat an entire 50-foot row of beans when you leave for a weekend.
I’ve learned corn grows high until the cow jumps over or walks through the open gate to eat it all to the ground.
I’ve learned one tomato worm can eat an entire tomato plant in one night.
I’ve learned mud slides through corn rows make great muddy boys, but doesn’t give a good corn crop.
I’ve learned growing potatoes by covering them with straw make great beds for dogs and cows that jump over the fence.
I’ve learned the nursery rhyme about the cows jumping over the moon was not fiction.
I’ve learned electric fences don’t always keep cows where you want them, but putting them in the freezer does.
I’ve learned pigs love slop, but not citrus or feed corn.
I’ve learned peas are better eaten from the vine, rather than brought to the table.
I’ve learned flowers can only be grown when boys stop using them as home plate.
I’ve learned discipline is every time, whether you’re sick, tired, or feeling good. Because to avoid it once, means payback the next ten times.
I’ve learned bed-time is for my children AND for me.
I’ve learned naps are more for me, but my children will take them as long as I could.
I’ve learned showers are great times to clean—not just the dirt on the outside, but the dirt I’ve harbored in my heart.
I’ve learned to accept mud and dust inside and outside the house.
I've learned to wash my husband's clothes separately to avoid one crayon from marking everyone of his shirts.
I’ve learned if I want a cool house, I must allow some flies to enter.
I’ve learned a doorknob only lasts one year when it is used constantly.
I’ve learned a bell on the doorknob tells when a toddler escapes.
I’ve learned potty-training toddlers is best done when they are ready, not me.
I’ve learned smarties freely given to anyone and everyone who helps a toddler make it to the potty will speed potty-training.
I’ve learned the diaper stage isn’t forever. Neither is nursing. Neither are hugs. Neither is boyhood.
I’ve learned plastic dishes eliminates the need to be careful while eating.
I’ve learned my schedule is not as important as making a baby happy.
I’ve learned to be flexible and not demand my right of order over my children’s right to learn in the moment.
I’ve learned a clean house means no one is home.
I’ve learned an empty cupboard means I must be more creative.
I’ve learned never to run out of toilet paper and laundry detergent, but everything else can be substituted or eliminated.
I’ve learned if my husband gives me X-amount of money, I’ll spend it all, and maybe more, if I can.
I’ve learned reading-out-loud is for my children and for me.
I’ve learned you can fit five boys in the required car seats, two parents and a month’s supply of groceries in a Blazer when you have to.
I’ve learned you can also load 4x8 pieces of plywood on the top of a Blazer, but they may not stay.
I’ve learned a seven-month-pregnant mom with only little ones can drag that 4x8 piece of plywood that fell off the said Blazer for a loooong way.
I’ve learned people will pity that mom and stop and help her.
I’ve also learned that when you graduate to an Excursion, you must pray and plan ahead for a parking spot.
I’ve learned teaching boys how to drive is easier in a car than in an Excursion, but you're safer in an Excursion.
I’ve learned the Excursion’s jack is not big enough when you have a flat.
I’ve learned even AAA’s jacks can be tricky to lift the Excursion.
I’ve learned to believe the Sharpie marker packaging when it says "permanent," but not to believe the paint containers when they say the paint will last for 25 years.
I’ve learned six boys and a mom can paint the outside of the house and barn, even with a baby. And then paint it again seven years later.
I’ve learned the witching hour, that time right before dad comes home and everyone is hungry and wants to wrestle, is best lived outside.
I’ve learned not to watch when dad wrestles with the boys.
I’ve learned boys can and do hear what you say, even when they say, “What?”
I’ve learned not to accept “What?” for an answer.
I’ve learned not to fight their wiggles, but to put their wiggles to work.
I’ve learned what I taught them when they were little will help when they are older.
I’ve learned little boys can crawl behind toilets and clean the floor better than I thought.
I’ve learned man-tools help make little boys feel important. They also help big boys and men feel the same.
I’ve learned boys do better if I allow them to make their own mistakes.
I’ve learned older boys can scrub pans, clean stovetops and counters, lay cement and fix fences better than I could imagine.
I’ve learned when a boy is given a man job, he will stand taller, show confidence, and perform better than expected.
I’ve learned when that boy becomes a man, he doesn’t whine over the necessary evils of a job, but does it with the diligence of one who knows what he’s doing.
I’ve learned to depend on my boys for so many things I can’t do anymore.
I’ve learned that little boys grow up to be men too fast.
I've learned those men make me proud of who they are and what they do.

I’ve learned, well, you don’t want to hear all the things I’ve learned.
You may want to learn something yourself, that is, being a mom.

Perhaps that isn’t the education you thought you wanted. Maybe you wanted an education for the real world?

How much more real can you get?
Not all learning is in books.

No one tells you your love will deepen as each boy grows to become a man.
No one tells you that you won’t miss the job you didn’t get, but you will miss the boy turned man while you pursued that job.
No one tells you the education you receive can’t be replicated, mass produced, or even totally described, but it changes your character, your priorities, your focus.
But I will tell you, being a mom will stretch you beyond what you thought capable.
Being a mom will send you to your knees faster than any other struggle because there’s more at stake than just an education or a dream or a talent.
There’s so much you don’t know and it effects those you love.
There’s so much God wants to teach you, not just for your mind, but for your heart.

But all of these things pale in significance when I think of the most important thing I’ve learned being a mom—to know God.

Do I feel like I haven’t pursued my dreams, wasted my education, hidden my talents?
He's changed my focus to see what He values.

God uses what I place in His Hands to teach me about Him.
Isn’t that what life’s about?

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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