Jan 01 2015


Loving my Kid by Following my Dream - from Dixie Mama

Image courtesy of domaz dk at FreeImages.com

I’m of the firm opinion that to love is to teach. I know; that sounds a little off. Love is acceptance. Love is belief in someone. Love is self-sacrifice. And of course, it’s all that and much more besides. However, this particular attribute doesn’t get enough attention, in my opinion. And a recent epiphany about following my dream made me realize that shortchanging myself is a great disservice to my son, but we’ll get to more on that in a moment.

As a mom, the teaching aspect of love is the driving force that guides virtually everything I do and say with my son. I said that like I’m good at it. I do try to be, but honestly, I manage to foul it up on a regular basis. For example, I do things for him that I should teach him to do for himself, apparently. (I realized this recently in a parent-teacher conference when his kindergarten teacher asked, “Is he, by chance, an only child?” Ugh. Gotta work more on his independence.) I have also said things in front of him that I shouldn’t. Not so long ago, I got caught at a red light (running late to get him to school), and I let the “s word” slip. Yeah. My child never hears cussing, so I immediately froze. My mind raced with scenes of him repeating this at school (Christian school), church, or with his dad, and I’d hate to explain where he had learned it. These thoughts were racing through my mind when I heard, “Mommy, you said a bad word.” Deflated and embarrassed, I responded, “I did?” He said, “Yes. You said shoot.” Whew. I got lucky on that one. With, “Yes, baby, you’re right, and Mommy shouldn’t have said that,” we were able to move on with no collateral damage. (When you hear me refer to “saying grace,” this is what I mean. Own it, move on, and try to do better. Wallowing in how you–or your child–messed up won’t make it any better.)

Outside of my slips along the way, I admit that I thought I was pretty good at teaching my son. By the time he was eighteen months old, he knew his left from his right, could identify shapes such as a crescent and could count to ten in Spanish. Not too shabby. At four, he would go out of his way to hold a door open for a lady, and by age five, he had developed a genuine love for the Word of God. (I highly recommend the Power Bible series!) I am keenly aware that my son’s heart and choices are his own, but I did actively work with him in these areas, and watching the lessons take root gave me a sense of accomplishment as a mother. If I was doing one thing right in life, it was the way that I was teaching him.

Then it hit me. My example teaches him more than my words ever will, and when it comes to living with vision, I’m sucking wind. My life has no real direction. I’ve made my time and my purpose so much about my son that I’ve lost balance, and in the long run, I think that’s just as bad for him as it is me.

As moms, we want so badly to have the best for our children that we typically sacrifice too much. We sacrifice everything from wardrobe to “me time”. We forfeit time with friends or even the career of our dreams, all in the name of doing what is best for our children. Don’t get me wrong, I sacrifice for my son all the time, and I’m not advocating we become self-centered. In fact, I believe when children are very young, they require so much of us that it’s next to impossible to have balance. They need us 24/7 for a while, and that’s okay; it’s that way by design. But let’s be honest. When children start to become independent, we tend to let our own needs and dreams remain in the shadows and find it difficult to pick them back up again. At least that has been the case for me. Can you relate?

Here is the question that struck me: If my child follows what I model for him, will he grow up seizing the day and living his purpose? Or will he learn that he should put dreams on a shelf for some other day?

Loving my Kid by Following my Dream - from Dixie Mama

This question shook me to my core. When did I stop following my dream?  It was like someone had knocked the breath out of me. I want my child to grow up saying, “I want to live like mom does.” And one day when he becomes a father, I want him to model for his children what it means to follow dreams and grab life by the horns. He will learn (or not learn) to do this by mirroring what he sees in me and his other role models.

So this is why I say that to love is to teach. I want the best possible life for my kiddo, and to have the greatest chance of that, he needs to be taught by example how to develop that life. In teaching him left from right, chivalry, and even principles of faith, I don’t want to miss the boat completely on where the rubber meets the road. I want to teach him how to apply these day-to-day lessons to the big picture of whatever amazing thing God designed him to do. How can I effectively teach him to do that if I’m neglecting my own purpose?

That brings me to Dixie Mama.

My dream has always been to write. Aside from my relationship with the Lord and the wonders of motherhood, when I write is when I feel most alive. So after years of stifling my desires, I’m listening to my own advice, and that is why I started this blog. It’s the place where my passion for faith, parenting, and writing converge. It’s my first step in listening to my heart and modeling for my son that purpose should not be abandoned. It may be a small step, but I can now say I am following my dream by writing for you.  So as I write about motherhood, grace and the things that I think, I hope to also encourage you along the way.

Have you neglected a dream you once felt was your purpose? What cause, activity or talent tugs at your heart? I hope you’ll consider a leap of faith along with me, even if it’s a small one. You’ll stumble, and so will I, but that’s okay. It will create learning experiences for us and teaching scenarios for those little ones looking up to us. We’ll pick ourselves up, adjust course and take on another day just like we want them to do. Learning, stumbling and growing is the way to teach them best, and in my way of thinking, that’s what saying grace is all about.

From the heart of Dixie Mama…always say grace.



  1. Hayley Cranfield

    You’re welcome, Tanya. Thank you for reading it :)

  2. Tanya Feygin

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us

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