(Don’t forget to visit Chatting At the Sky and read what others have unwrapped this past week.)

Somewhere along the way, I bought into the line that good moms do all these great things with their kids. They take the kids to aquariums, parks, museums, libraries, and zoos. Frequently. And I thought that the measure of goodness in a mom correlated to the amount of [somewhat educational] enriching activities she led the children in.

So I always felt somewhat guilty that, because we were caring for a child with significant medical and physical needs, we couldn’t do enriching activities much or at all. Because Elli needed, truly needed, so many things, that meant we didn’t even consider other things that, at least I thought, were par for the course in other families. I never said it aloud, even to myself, but I thought if I was truly a good mom, I’d have the energy and ability to do it all.

This summer, I decided that I was finally going to be that good mother I’d always dreamed of being. We went to the zoo. We went to the park and fed the ducks and rode bikes and walked the dog. We visited the children’s museum.

Sounds great, right? Except that I was driven by the wrong reasons, and that meant I wasn’t prepared. Repeated failures to respond kindly and gently to my children’s childishness no matter where we were and what we were doing showed me that doing things isn’t what makes a mom a good mom. Showing love and kindness, mixed with quiet instruction and occasional discipline, is what makes a good mom. The location and the activity is irrelevant.

Yesterday, I had originally thought to take the kids to the children’s museum. I thought better of it when I began to consider all that needed to be done before the Thanksgiving holiday. Instead, we stayed home, did laundry, and spent a quiet simple day together.

I taught my oldest how to grate cheese.

My youngest went for a ride down the hall in a basket (“Look mom, I’m in my boat!” he called out with delight) pushed by his sister.

We picked the oldest up from school — a real treat for him since he normally rides the bus.

My toddler “helped” unload the dishwasher, and I found a way to make it work.

And, after a friend helped me think correctly about the day and my family, I responded more kindly and patiently to the impromptu water play in the toilet and the drawing on the hardwood floor.

Today I am thankful for the truth that good mothers respond to their family in a god-honoring way in the simple tasks and activities of life at home. (And elsewhere, too.)