"Teach the young women to love their children."
I excerpted it from Titus 2:4, which reads in its entirety:
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,"
As I repeated the first sentence a few times for dd7, I realized how few places young women hear that message anymore. Social media use, while it does give us a place to show off our children--and, boy, do I engage in that--too easily gets in the way of loving our children, especially if we are so fixated on screens that we only look in our children's eyes when we're snapping their photo.
Institutions of higher education tend to discourage "family life" and make us SAHMs feel like we've failed our half of humanity by opting out of paid employment to stay home caring for little children, even though studies make it clear that kids, at least in my ethnic group, are better off not being sent to full-time daycare (I'm not trying to insult anyone; the science is what it is, and I have no motivation to pretend otherwise) and biological reality means that females are more affected by pregnancy-related health concerns. The cynical part of me thinks this happens in part because it's harder to cajole alumni donations from unemployed people.
Advertisements constantly tell us to buy things and experiences for our children at peril of being mean moms. (Sorry, Disney, I'm not giving in to your fiendish plot to make me feel like a wicked witch for not springing for a Disney World family vacation.) If advertisers really wanted to help us love our children, they'd point out how richly blessed American kids already are as far as material goods and counsel us parents to go read a library book to our kids before they grow up. But there's no money in that....
I've always been grateful for my mother telling me that the most fulfilling and important thing she did in her life was to be a mother to me and my siblings. She is a very intelligent woman who has been a schoolteacher and private school administrator, earned a PhD and a JD, and is still practicing law in her 70s.
Thus far, I have only daughters, and I will heed this counsel to teach them to "love their children." I'll teach them by example as I cuddle my infant and struggle not to get too angry when the toddler makes yet another mess. I'll teach them that they should expand their minds and do great good in the world, but that they should also carefully choose their paths so they have the best chance of being able to take loving care--which requires a substantial amount of face time--of their children. I'll counsel them to eat well and take care of their bodies, for their health directly influences the well-being of their future children, as well as the egg cells that will become their grandchildren. I hope they heed the lessons, for my personal experience is already mirroring that of my mother: there is no accomplishment that matters more to me than nurturing my children well. Isn't it ironic that self-fulfillment comes more easily when we're not focused on ourselves?