Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you.
2 Thessalonians 2: 15
If you want to teach something, be something.
Sometimes I wish I could tell my kids to carry on, do what they know is right and don't mind me. Being a hypocrite is easy. Being a role model takes work—more work than I'm up to after tethering and weathering the moments of my life.
When my three children were small, I could get away with the convenience of "do as I say, not as I do". They didn't notice the Snickers wrapper on the counter as I made dinner. They didn't say a word when I wore socks with holes in the toes, and they were too busy playing with Kermit the Frog and Candyland to see me clean the entry floor after tracking in my own share of mud. Or perhaps they were too much in awe of Mommy to say anything.
But as they graduated to Barbie, Battleship and beyond, their minds grasped a scary new concept—independent thought. That's when they began to challenge me and my two-faced behavior.
"How come we have to make our beds when your bed isn't made yet?"
"How come we can only watch TV an hour a night and you can watch more?"
"How come your shoes are all over the place and ours have to be in the shoe bin?"
I shake my head, stalling until I conjure up a desperate parent's jewel: "Because I'm the mom, that's why!"
They roll their eyes and leave me to my humiliation. How'd they get so smart? Certainly it wasn't by my example.
It doesn't help my self-esteem to remember my own mother's perfection. I never caught her in a faux pas. No wet towels on the floor, no crumbs brushed onto the kitchen floor when no one was looking, no televisions blaring at a ridiculous level (can I help it if I like to feel my movies?). She taught us by example. When she worked till the early morning hours sewing a prom dress, we learned to be industrious. When she made the roast and leftover corn last for two more meals, we learned to be thrifty. When she made quilts for the less fortunate, we learned to be charitable.
What am I teaching my kids?
There are some good things. When I work on getting a book written, plodding along one sentence, one word at a time, they learn persistence. When I hug their father right in front of them and even give him a kiss (gasp!) they learn love. When I tell them how a prayer was answered, they learn faith.
Not too bad.
Although I am working on making my bed, limiting my television time, and hanging up my coat, above all—flaws and all—I'm teaching my children we're in this together. I don't know all the answers, although I do know a bit more than they do. I have good traits I hope they'll embrace and bad habits I hope they'll avoid.
They know I'm not perfect.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22: 6)
If you want to teach something, be something . . .
I'm human. Human I can teach. Human I can be.
Perhaps, somehow, they'll learn from that.