This article also appears over at Heart of the Matter Online.
In last month’s article, “How to Bless Homeschooling Moms Who Have Chronic Illnesses,” I listed a few things that other homeschool moms could do to help a fellow mom in need. The list was hardly comprehensive, but it was a start. This month I want to address a few ways that families can bless their own moms who have chronic illnesses.
As if homeschool moms don’t feel enough guilt already about not being perfectly patient, perfectly knowledgeable, and perfectly organized, those who are chronically ill also add in a hefty dose of guilt for not always feeling well enough to participate fully in family and homeschooling life.
Younger children don’t understand why mom is on the couch—again. They don’t understand why mom can’t play tag—again. They don’t know why mom can’t pick them up—again. They just know that they’re sad because you’re sad. Younger children can still help mom feel better, though. Little chubby arms encircling mom’s neck and sloppy kisses are the best therapy. Chronically ill moms can let their kids know that the best way they can help is to dispense that kind of medicine. Mom would probably feel better with a blankie and a stuffed animal to snuggle with, too. From a very young age, children need to feel needed; we have a chance here for a win-win situation.
Older children and teens also have a difficult time understanding why they need to make dinner, watch the littler ones, and skip the youth group party when mom’s not feeling well. Oh, they may understand the words pain, limitations, and lack of energy, but they don’t get how it applies to their lives. The solution is to train them to be godly servants as Paul advocates in Philippians 2:2–4 (MSG), “Do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” If I figure out an easy way to get this concept through a thick-skulled teenager’s brain, you’ll be the first to know. But, we’re all on the faith journey together, so maybe we need to offer up a bit of grace with our training.
Children can be trained to do just about any household chore, including cooking simple meals. Of course, as they get older, they are capable of taking on more responsibilities. The trick is to utilize the times when you’re feeling good to teach these types of skills. Rather than feeling guilty for making your children help, think of it as home economics training for their futures.
Instead of sounding like I’m preaching to the husbands, I’ll just encourage the wives to let their husbands know what they need. I will also encourage the husbands to be sensitive to their wives’ needs. There, that wasn’t too preachy, was it?
Moms, I bet you thought you were off the hook, didn’t you? Nope. How can you best take care of yourself? By letting go of the guilt. I know, I know, that’s easier said than done. Use the following Scriptures on grace to combat the guilt. “At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift” (2 Cor. 12:8–9, MSG). “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph. 4:7, NKJV). “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6, NKJV). “Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18, MSG).
Many blessings of grace to you and yours as you struggle through homeschooling with a chronic illness.