Monday, April 28, 2008

If Mama ain't happy...

"'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.


MiPa said...

Great post! Thank you!

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...


"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."

Oh, how I love this! Heather, you get the "award" for summing it up!

Karen said...

The right tone is necessary, whether its joy, delight, forgiveness, security or whatever. Love the Mary Poppins phrase. I had that typed in mine but took it out. "At the risk of sounding like Mary Poppins..." I started to say. I wouldn't mind singing like her but I want to sound like the woman God wants me to be, whatever the tone. Take care.

Christin said...

You have spoken some wonderful things here. I am sorry if there was misunderstanding and perhaps I should clarify - joy isn't the same thing as happiness. Happiness comes as a result of circumstances - joy remains no matter what your circumstances - you can be unhappy and still have joy. :) Maybe we should do a post about the differences b/w joy and happiness, huh? They certainly are different. Joy is a promise from the Lord and it is obtainable - we just need to seek Him first. :) As we continue to do that, He will continue to mold us. We just need to remember to keep moving forward with our eyes on Him. :) Yes, we are certainly works in progress! And God promised to complete the work in us if we don't grow weary in doing good. God bless you and thank you sooo much for your thoughts! :) You are doing a wonderful job and you keep running after that prize! HUGS!

lori said...

I'll be asking mine in the car this afternoon!!
I didn't get to know why...but I LOVE this...I could have written for days on it!! It's true whether we like it or not, we set the tone....
We are all in this together...(sing it, if you know the HSM tune!) and I like you am thankful that my husband sets a FABULOUS tone in our home....
It's that VOW we made together...

It's funny we always remind the kiddos..."CHECK YOUR TONE!" I know that I need to remind myself too...they are getting old enough to remind me!!
can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for Thursday!!

I believe that the SPORTS fanatic would call that the "lead off" position!!

Tami Boesiger said...

Hmm...looks like we were thinking the same thing this morning, Heather. As much as I'd like to be perfect, I know I'm not. But I need to remember quotes like this to remind myself on those dark, cloudy days to push through and find a little joy.

I enjoyed your post, friend. Have a good day.

Bonnie W said...

Great post today. BTW - If we never get to meet down here, well I'll be sure to look you up in eternity. I'll be the one with a happy grin on my face. Yup, Mama will be happy then for sure!!!!!

Christin said...

I certainly don't think you were being critical, don't worry, lol. I just wanted to clarify my thoughts a bit more. Sometimes it's hard to write about a quote right on the spot. One thing I love about IOW is seeing other people's perspectives on it and how they take it. I should've clarified in my post that I didn't choose the quote expecting anyone out there to be perfect - only mindful. :) It was a quote that really struck me which is why it stuck out so to share it with others. Thank you again! I truly like reading everyone's thoughts! I just don't want people feeling condemned...that is totally not my intention. :) God bless!

The Olson's said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. I find I often relate to what you are saying ~ you are very "down to earth".

I have known for some time that I set the tone for my house & I have to admit that the tone has been rather embarrasing at times. Something to continually be working on!

Thanks for the reminder! Also, I really appreciated Christin's comment about joy vs. happiness. I actually did a post recently about realizing that I didn't have joy; I was allowing circumstances around us to dictate my heart. The things Christin commented on will definately be getting some "thinking time".

Thanks again!
~ Leanne

Susan said...


This was good and so true. Hey, I'm the mean mom too! I've said that for years.

My prayer also is to let my life and attitude be one that brings honor and glory to God.

Many great points were made♥

Amy L Brooke said...

Great insights! I don't think you are mean either!

Can you beleive I had never broken anything until end of September 2006 and then within 6 months . . . . Crazy huh?

Knock on wood. I'm fine at the moment but then I'm not playing Hide-and-Seek!

Faerylandmom said...

"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."

Amen. I don't have anything to add to this. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I really like what you said about "happy wife, happy life", as my husband says the same thing too. We've been married thirty years, homeschooled six kiddos and we have both taken the responsibility to set a positive, grace oriented tone to our family life. I so believe in being authentic, but also not using authenticity as an excuse for bad behavior!! I would say tho, that when raising babies, toddlers and little ones, it is very important to be cheerful when we don't feel like it,as they are very sensitive to our spirit, and we can cultivate cheeriness, but that's whole 'nother subject! Blessings, Cathy