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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On being a Revolutionary Mom - part 2

576621_569412499770584_1178031775_n Last time, I talked about my frustrations with this bleeding heart of mine. I want to live up to this blog's name and be a Revolutionary Mom, but I want to shrink my eyes sometimes, down to just me and my family and our needs, but I just can't. I know too much and I feel too much of a responsibility.

A time for everything

First of all, lets just all remind ourselves that this is a season. For better or worse, our children will only be small for a few years. I've heard it called "baby prison", and it often feels like just that. Between naps, meals, and messes, we just can't fit a lot in. Traveling is cumbersome, (pack n' play, bouncy seat, boppy, diapers...) meals are very messy, and you know better than to mess with naptime unless it is a national emergency.
Yes, we'll never get these tiny feet and hands again. We'll never get that two-toothed grin or be the center or their world again. I get choked up just thinking about it - but then of course 5 minutes later I'm thinking "I can't wait until you can wipe your own behind, kid!" We love it and we hate it, this baby prison, and soon, these diaper days will be behind us and we'll be (slightly) more free to let our revolutionary spirits soar.

Be a positive example

Which brings me to my next point. As my kids grow, I know I'm the biggest influence in their lives for several years yet. I get to decide what they consider "normal" - recycling, cloth diapers, regularly opening our home in hospitality. Am I interruptible, if someone has a need? Are we wasteful, gluttonous, greedy? Do we appreciate what we have and always keep in our hearts a responsibility toward those who don't have? Set an example in all things, from day one. I need to talk in front of my about giving money, and keep a picture of those missionaries and that child we sponsor up on the wall, so we can talk about them and pray for them. We regularly use the words "don't be wasteful" in our house. Our three year old doesn't understand all of the implications of this, but she can show me her plate at the end of a meal and ask "was I wasteful, momma?"

Have revolutionary goals for my children

A lot of parents have high hopes for their children - be the best on the team. Get good grades. Get a college scholarship. Win those awards.
Can I gently suggest that our culture might be slightly off course when it comes to what's important for our kids? I think physical fitness and good grades are important, of course, but if my family is going to invest multiple evenings a week many months out of the year (and several hundred dollars) on a hobby, I want that thing to really matter. I want it to be something that's going to have an immediate positive impact, but also teach my child a skill that she/he will find useful forevermore.
Football? Baseball? Gymnastics? These are all ok things, but I am disturbed at what I see in our culture. Parents are stressed out to the max and the entire family life revolves around getting each kid to his or her practice/game every evening of the week. My husband is a student minister, so I hear about this all the time. I can think of so many other extracurriculars I'd rather my kids get wrapped up in.
Like family time, for one. Or mechanics. Or carpentry. Or farming. Or soup kitchen. Or that lost art of cooking.
And please, for the love of Pete, don't let your kids spiritual lives get strangled by all this busyness. Not even a good school education is worth sacrificing your child's spiritual development.
I wish that kids could just play sports as kids without having to sell themselves out to them. Can it just be about exercise and community, and a little less competitive?
Ok, soapbox sermon over.

Build a revolutionary team

If there's anything I've learned about having a house full of "littles", it's that it truly does take a village, if you want to do it right. In today's mobile culture, that's not always easy, and it's especially hard to find fellow revolutionary parents. I try to work hard to find others who want to serve a hurting world and understand the importance of making financial/lifestyle sacrifices in order to be able to help others. One idea I've found is to host a book club or mom's group (check out my recommended reading page for ideas), with a specific focus on global awareness and serving locally. Another great way is to find a local church (or other club) that is very active in the community. Find a family friendly nonprofit locally to volunteer for. It's difficult to serve with small children, but if you have a group, it's easier to serve/babywatch in shifts. I was lucky enough to volunteer for almost two years at a pregnancy center that offered childcare on the premises.

Take the kids with me.

Yes, it would be more convenient to find a sitter while you pack boxes at the food bank, but my ministry will have a longer lasting effect on my children if they get to serve alongside me. Now that our oldest is nearly three, we're really getting to see the benefits of having her around to soak up the atmosphere of service and see real needs.

Write your own story.

Never stop questioning. Don't parent in a certain way just because it's the norm. I read in this book about educating that it's important to know the difference between normal and average - the healthy range of normal for a family is quite varied, and maybe what the average American family does is not what's best for you and yours.
Yes, it's average to let our family get completely wrapped up in the daily things, the little projects and hobbies that won't matter in the long run. It's normal to spend our evenings in front of the tv. Can we shoot for above average? Can we realize that there's nothing abnormal about a family that chooses to tread lightly on the earth, forgo sports for family time or mission projects, and limit our excesses so that we can share with those that have so little?
So, I feel a little more revolutionary now that I've thought through my options here. Of course, each day has it's successes and failures, and some weeks I'm just trying to keep from drowning in laundry. Overall, maybe I'm not as helpless as I thought. :)
I hope you've been inspired by my ramblings, and I'd love to hear your opinions.

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