"'If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!'" We smile as we read the wall plaque in the novelty store. But our smile quickly turns to a frown if truly "Mama ain't happy." This is because the wife and mother in a family often "sets the tone" in the home. The "tone" God wants her to set is one of joy, optimism, and a delight in the Lord and in her family. If your family were called upon to describe you, what would they say?"~Martha Peace, "The Excellent Wife"
In order to answer the question posed above, I asked the littlest in our house to describe me. He said, "My mom is Heather." When probed further he added, "I don't know." What is she like? "She likes coffee." Yup, he knows me well.
The middle child would probably say, "My mom is mean!" That deserves a little explanation. The kids are always asking why they can't eat pure sugar for their diet or why they can't own every toy on the planet or why they can't watch TV 24-7. Instead of continually repeating our answer, "Because we love you and know what's best for you," my husband and I have resorted to other tactics. We just answer their why questions with a silly growl and the retort: "Because I'm mean!" They usually say, "No you're not."
On my good days, I try to set a tone of patience, trust in God, and fun. But, let's be honest. Those days aren't as frequent as I'd like. Some days it sounds more like we have a dog in our house. "Get moving!" Bark, "Clean up this mess!" bark, "stop fighting with your sister!"
Sigh. Do I set a tone of "joy, optimism, and a delight in the Lord and in her family?" Maybe it's just me, but those words sound like Mary Poppins and I like her, I really do, but I'm not Mary Poppins. I mean, it would be cool to jump into chalk drawings and ride off on carousel horses, but I'm a REAL person and in our house it's okay to be real.
I think the tone of our house is more likely to be forgiveness, faith in God's power to transform us and our children, and acceptance. When you get out the measuring stick, it won't say "practically perfect in every way" but it might say "a work in progress."
Ephesians 4:29 gives me more direction as I determine the appropriate tone for my home:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Sometimes we don't realize how much our own bad attitude affects those around us. A dark cloudy attitude can bring the whole house down into the dumps. So, if I want to have a happy household, I need to tend to my own attitude first. I can't expect everyone else to make me happy though. I find that when I'm focused on getting my needs met, I get cranky and irritable because no one can meet all of my needs all of the time. If my goal is to build up my family, then I have an attitude of joyful service instead of selfishness.
On the other hand, my husband always says, "Happy wife, happy life." He makes it his goal to create a happy environment around the home for me. That sure makes it easier for me to maintain those "happy mama" days! I'm thankful that the tone of our home is fostered by both us working together. It's a team effort. We both want our lives and our family to honor and glorify God.
Visit Christin for more thoughts on this quote.