Hello. My name is Dina but I can pretty much guarantee you've never heard of me.
Which is fine, because it just so happens that I'm kind of a big deal back here where I live.
Where I'm from, I'm The Mama.
I married early, too early even to finish university and pregnant too soon and too often thereafter to entertain any idea about continuing my education. In the B.C. years (Before Children), I imagined that my contribution to the world would be fulfilled through an occupational pursuit, one that provided me with desired challenges and compensated me well. With my hands full with babies and days full of cleaning, cooking, and catching an occasional nap my impact on the world would have to wait.
Or would it?
As parents, as educators of the home, we have the ultimate responsibility: influencing the next generation that will, in turn, shape the world that we will grow old in. There is no sphere of influence, no position of authority, no occupational pursuit that holds such promise and such impact as our role with the young lives we hold in our hands and in our hearts.
For years after children, I struggled with identifying my occupation, though I had well learned the enormity of its privilege. Sure, I stayed home and did the laundry, cleaned the house, and even chose to educate my young children at home but I was more than any one of these, so what then was the sum of all of them?
Reading aloud recently with my older
girls, I began to sputter and stumble as emotion spilled over through
the words I read. The story was one that told of a past time, a time
when life was simple though the days were long with hard work and your
closest friends were those within your family. Nestled among the details
of life on a mountain farm and the growth of a young shepherd boy and
his pet lamb was this paragraph, the thoughts of his mother:
"Once the boy had come safely into the world, she realized how her prayers for him had changed. It was not for life and a strong body to hold its treasures she prayed, for he had these; he was a sturdy, shapely boy from the first. It was that he might be caring and useful in this world. Such a short way could she go with him on that path that was his life; only a few years she would have his hand in hers. For a few more years he would walk beside her; then he would be a man going his way alone, but if it were a way of kindness, the memory of that first day would always fill her with joy."
Parallel to this thought was the boy's own thought about his lamb. Just as he would shepherd and protect his pet, so too would his mother be that momentary shepherdess in his life.
That is what she and you and I share in common: we are shepherds and shepherdesses of the precious souls within our keep. For such a brief moment, we can walk beside our little ones, equipping and influencing them with the values and morals, ideas and characteristics that might better our world.
The necessities of reading, writing, and arithmetic are almost a certain guarantee that our children will possess. But what of kindness, what of humility, what of service, what of discipline, what of contentment? Who will be the models and educators of these essentials?
Whether through one life or four within the fold of our homes, it will be us in our role as parents that will impact the world. It will be through wisely understanding our calling as shepherds, as shepherdesses to instruct and model and develop the character of our children that we will reap the greatest rate of return on our investment.It will be by the age old truths of hard work and home grown values, through surrounding them with the friendship and love of family and good friends, that our children will navigate the ups and downs, the liberties and dangers of their journeys through life.
And by so lovingly and faithfully doing, we will have changed the world.
*the book mentioned here is Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates, one which this nobody highly recommends.
a student of life, learning daily through the unconditional love of her
God, her husband, and her four children. a lamb to her Good Shepherd
and a shepherdess to her young ewes, all the while hoping that somehow,
someway her life brings about change in the lives of others that will
last for all eternity. Read more from Dina at A Worthy Life.