Linking to this article published today on My Christian Daily magazine.
People love to give you their worst-case scenarios. Seriously, from the moment I got engaged to my husband 13 years ago, people started telling me how terrible my marriage would be in 15 years. Maybe I was surrounded by the wrong people, and yes there probably were people with great marriages who were genuinely happy for me, but for some reason my brain lingered on the bad, the scary, especially from those I perceived had experience and probably knew a thing or two. Were these people right? I didn’t want to believe them.
It got worse when I was obviously pregnant with my oldest child. Suddenly there was tidal wave of strong opinions rushing my way about the best way to take care of my body, to raise a child, to adjust my life to parenthood. And, oh, the list of “you’ll nevers.” I got so scared after getting pregnant because so many people started implying that my life was going to get so, so hard and so, so exhausting.
Now that I have come through the most intense years of motherhood—pregnancy, breast-feeding, caring for infants, keeping toddlers alive, and am entering the school-aged years, I want to debunk some of the myths that are told to expectant and new parents that are not entirely, and certainly don’t have to be, true. Unless there are health and development problems in your family, or you have serious financial limitations or perhaps are a single parent, you’ll probably see how false these myths really are. The truth lies somewhere beneath the myth, and it’s this that can give you hope as a parent.
So below, I’ve tackled five of the myths I hear most often when people bemoan the changes of becoming parents.
Myth #1: You’ll never sleep again. Sleep is that one thing that you do every day of your life that doesn’t seem so important until you aren’t getting it any longer. And there’s no foolproof way to prepare expectant parents for the mind-numb, zombielike, caffeine-guzzling creature they’ll become in those first few months of parenting, so many people just resort to extremes by telling them to get used to it because it’ll never end. The good news is, your child will start sleeping through the night, it’s just a question of when. The timeframe depends on numerous factors: the child, the sleep-training techniques the parents use, the sleeping arrangements, health. But I promise you, your child will most likely enter the preschool years as a great sleeper. Have you ever met an elementary aged child who doesn’t sleep? Be patient—it’ll happen.
Myth #2: You’ll never fit into your old clothes. Pregnancy does quite the number on a woman. Your skin stretches to an extent you didn’t think possible. Your ankles and feet swell and you’re permanently a size 9 in shoes and no longer an 8.5. Even your vision can change! But to throw out all your old clothes would be hasty. This truth is one that you must work for—you won’t suddenly lose the weight like your child suddenly starts sleeping through the night. You must plan, prioritize, and dedicate yourself to making this one a reality. It absolutely is possible to get back into your skinny jeans. It’s all a question of whether you want it badly enough. As a former personal trainer and fitness enthusiast, I know this to be true. Your body is fully capable of being fit after giving birth—if you decide to put it to work.
Myth #3: Your house will never be clean. I sometimes feel like this is just something people say when they feel guilty because they haven’t picked up all week. They blame the mess on the kids, when the reality is, just a little intention and discipline can keep the mess at bay. Dedicate one room to toys so they don’t spread across the entire house; put things away as you go; wash the dishes as soon as a meal is over; make your bed when you wake up in the morning. As you discipline yourself to clean up and put things away, you will indirectly teach your children to do the same. They are teachable—if cleaning up is important to you, you can train them to do it as well.
Myth #4: You and your husband will never travel again. I think this one bothers me the most because so many of us look back on the trips we took with our spouses as some of our favorite experiences together—discovering new foods, places, and people. To think that those days are over until we’re empty nesters is downright depressing. That’s why I’m here to tell you that it does not have to be true! My husband and I have gone on many trips alone together since our kids were born, and to make this possible you need do just two things: ask someone you trust to keep your children and relinquish control of their childcare for the duration of your time away. If you are blessed to have helpful family members living nearby, the only thing standing between you and some time away is you just exploring this possibility. If you don’t have family but you do have some disposable income, consider paying a nanny. There are several reputable sights where you can search for and interview nannies for extended time away from your children. And all of us have close friends to whom we would trust our children for a few nights. If cost is an issue but travel is something you’d really like to do–drop some extra-curriculars or eat at restaurants less to save money for a trip. My point is: the possibility of spending a few nights away from your children is not unreachable, but most of us are too nervous to ask for help or are too controlling in our role as parents to take some time off. And it’s precisely the controlling parents who need time away the most!
Myth #5: Your children will turn into jerks when they become teenagers. So, to be fair, I don’t know for sure that this one isn’t true because my kids are only 7, 5, and 3. But, because I know that people love to tell you how bad things are going to be, and because all the preceding “nevers” have not proven true for me, I suspect that the above myth is not true either. Because, I have great kids. Yes, they can be jerks sometimes, but so can I, and that doesn’t mean that I am actually a jerk. It just means that I have bad days when I can use a little more grace, not that I’m without hope. I fully intend for my kids to go through some difficult developmental years, but I’m not dreading the years ahead. I’m enjoying the moments with them, and all their changes as they grow, and dealing with the hard days as they come. (And spending a lot of time in prayer.) After all, what good will it do me or my children if I dread the teen years before they even arrive? Most likely, they’ll turn out to be better than I expected. I’ll learn a lot and look back on them with fondness, much like I’m doing now when I think about my children in their infancy, years ago.
See, what people should say to you when you’re expecting, is that the degree to which you enjoy your role as a mother depends on your ability to let go of your past. If you cling to the “used to be’s” you’ll only focus on what you’ve lost: 8 hours of careless sleep, a neat but silent house, a flexible yet self-focused schedule—and you’ll become someone who recites the “never myths” to other parents with sarcastic flair. But, if you approach parenthood embracing your new normal and not trying to be the same person you were, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and your opportunities to enjoy the small pleasures that remind you of your carefree days will only be limited by your creativity.
So my advice, if you want it, is much simpler: Never believe the “you’ll never’s,” because there’s always the hope that you can.
Linking to an article I had published today on gracecentered.com about the joy God promises us as we observe Easter. It’s called “For The Joy.”
As this year closes, the news has been full of reports of allegations of men abusing and mistreating women. I’ve been reading these headlines, while also spending the month of December fundraising and bringing awareness to the global money-making shame of human trafficking. And it all has me thinking a lot about the kind of man I want my son to become, the hopes that I have for his character. I have been praying for my son since the day he was born. My prayers have been very specific for him as a male. I pray for strength, a heart for the Lord, a heart for justice, a kind spirit and most of all, integrity. This is a personal trait that is becoming more precious, more valuable, and rarer every day. It’s defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. And almost every time I check the headlines I see men lying about their actions, making excuses for their misdeeds and expecting people to serve their whims instead of recognizing when their whims subject others to abuse.
And I look at my son, who is now only three, but who will soon have desires which will be admirable and gracious on some days, yet embarrassing and selfish on others. How do I begin to teach him to care about his choices and the impact they have on other people? How do I begin to explain to him that girls outside his family will always deserve the same respect and kindness that he shows to his sisters? How will he learn to sacrifice his creature comforts for the legitimate needs of those less fortunate in his path? How will he figure out how to use his strength to fight injustice? How will I coach his behavior so that he doesn’t become another woman’s disgraceful memory or headline?
Much of this he will learn from his father, who is a kind and generous man. He teaches our son that his job is to protect and never to harm. Much of it he will learn from me, as I demand that he minds his manners. I require him to say “please” and “thank you,” to ask me nicely for things instead of expecting me to get what he wants. Much of it he will learn from his female siblings as they ask for his help and show him familial love.
But there’s a message passing through our culture that I don’t want him to hear: and that message is that there is nothing special about him as a male. Because when women start emasculating men, men stop caring about women. When we tell them they don’t matter, that we can live without them, they don’t see the need to practice integrity. Why would we as women expect kindness and respect from men we don’t respect ourselves?
I want my son to know that his God-given strengths and tendencies are valuable. I want him to see his maleness as the other half of the beautiful design God created in humanity. When he notices the differences between himself and girls, I hope that the mystery produces a sense of awe and wonder in his mind, and not lust or greed.
I will continue to lift him up in my prayers even when I can no longer lift him in my arms. I will speak for him until, God willing, my prayers become his own.
In the very first days after my eldest daughter was born, I remember grieving my loss of sleep and discussing my exhaustion with my mom. She empathized with me and then said something that has stuck with me as I’ve navigated the twisted roads of motherhood. It went a little like this: “When your kids are very young they need your energy and constant attention because their problems are frequent but small. They are easy to fix but they happen repeatedly. When they’re older, your kids need your wisdom and your heart because their problems are fewer, but they’re bigger and there is less you can do on your own to fix them.”
Vivienne turned seven this month and her younger sister Georgia recently turned five, and although they still have many years head of them, I’m astounded at the depth of our conversations at this point in their lives. I’m always a little sad when I realize they are old enough to comprehend that the world isn’t perfect, that some people are mean or that I can’t give them every answer to soothe their tender emotions or settle their confused minds.
All moms are familiar with the gut-sinking-bitter-sweetness that comes when you discover that your kids have outgrown their clothes and need an entirely new wardrobe. There’s a double-whammy that hits while weeding out old clothes and buying new ones for our children. The first punch goes to our checking account—time to budget for clothing this month! The second punch goes to our hearts—our babies are getting bigger. And bigger. And as their bodies grow so do their minds. Their brains fill with new information, new concepts. Their eyes notice behavior and social structures. Pretty soon these children start to ask very good questions, very challenging questions that make us stop and consider, “Hmm, how am I going to answer/handle this?”
And what complicates this for me even more is that my girls are SO different. They have shared a room since my younger daughter was five-months-old, a bed since she was two, and they are the best of friends. But they could not be more opposite if they were characters in a story. Often a tactic or method or even tone of voice that I use with one does not go over well with the other. I must get creative with tailoring much of my mothering-methods to each of my three children (because my youngest is a boy—talk about different!) and their personalities, while maintaining the convictions and ideologies that my husband and I feel are important for our family.
My night-and-day daughters have tested me lately in my ability to succinctly yet thoroughly answer their concerns in a way that will assuage their fears, teach truth and be considerate of their immature emotions. My oldest daughter is very into science and dinosaurs. She has just learned to read and will devour any text about dinosaurs that she can find. But not all these books agree about exactly when dinosaurs existed, how long they lived and how they became extinct. My husband and I are Christians and believe in Creation, but we are old-Earth Christians, so we tend to agree with scientists who maintain that the earth is much older than the 6,000 years that the new-Earthers claim. We happen to own a book about dinosaurs by one of these new-Earth apologists, Ken Hamm, that we picked up from our local consignment store before we realized its angle. He claims that dinosaurs were roaming the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. But just last week, Vivienne came home with a book about dinosaurs from her school library which supports the traditional scientific view that dinosaurs predated humans and even evolved into birds! (An entire blog-post could be derived from this example about different schooling options for Christian families, but I’m not going to go there right now).
You can imagine Vivi’s confusion when she read these two conflicting accounts. I pointed out to her that the school library book was aging the earth at millions of years old, whereas Ken Hamm’s account ages it at around 6,000 years. I asked her what she thought. She said she agreed with the library book from the school because: “There’s no way people and dinosaurs could have lived at the same time because the dinos would have crushed or eaten the people!”
(Amazing the logic of little kids sometimes.)
So, I ended up encouraging her to take a faith-filled posture on this one. I explained to her that there are some things we will never know this side of heaven. But what we do know is that everything comes from something. Every creation has a Creator, and the timing is mostly irrelevant. We believe that God created all things for His glory and purpose, and that science helps us to learn about His creation and to reveal Him within it. She seemed satisfied with that. I believe her very words were, “I know that Mommy.” And then she waved me away so she could continue reading her book on her own.
Georgia’s interests are not in science. They are in performance, dancing, play-acting and looking pretty. I think that this is a confusing are for girls and women in our current climate. On one hand, people spend way too much money and time worrying about being beautiful. Just the number of YouTube make-up tutorials, Pinterest pins and beauty products is overwhelming. On the other hand, there is a growing movement among feminists which is telling females that beauty is shallow and unnecessary. This perspective suggests that beautiful women who take care of themselves are enslaved to some patriarchal system, and that they are brainwashed ignorant bimbos.
I believe both groups are wrong. I believe that my God loves beauty—it’s all around us in the animals we admire, the gardens that we cultivate, the mountains upon which we gaze, and yes, the diverse patchwork of humanity across this globe. So, my task with Georgia is not to squelch her interest in beauty and the pleasure she takes in looking pretty. My task is to put beauty in its proper place, to encourage her to focus more on cultivating a beautiful spirit and heart than on wearing an outfit or a hairstyle that others will notice.
She threw a fit the other day when I would not allow her to wear her play make-up to school. Now, the child is five, so it’s not like she was going to be in full super-model make-up anyway. But I know that she sees me wearing make-up most days, and she has asked me why I do it. I must be very careful about my answers because I don’t want her to ever think that her value lies in her beauty. And she is lovely—she has creamy white skin, big blue eyes and light blonde hair. She is blessed with a lean, muscular frame and her muscles are well-defined without that much physical effort. But I know that God created us in His image, and all beauty is ultimately there to point to Him. It’s nothing we can claim on our own because it was given to us. I also know that nothing spoils beauty in a person like an ungrateful and selfish heart.
More questions and explanations are sure to come. I hope that God gives me enough wisdom to communicate what He’s taught me, and that He’ll help me to tap into His grace when I get things wrong. Please pray for me as I continue to nurture these feminine souls, knowing the struggles and expectations that are waiting for my girls as they grow. Now my son, Roman, well…he’ll be an entirely different ball of wax!
Yes. Me too. I was abducted at gun point, robbed and sexually assaulted when I was 21. I can assure you that being assaulted changes your life in a heartbeat. Those are the testimonies that we’re hearing from these women who were bullied and assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. Listening to the now infamous audio tape, it seems that he liked scaring them, wielding his power in the business over them, threatening their future. And many of them walked away from “the industry” at that point. They realized that they couldn’t participate in a game where their success depended on their willingness to surrender their morals. As Weinstein said in the audio, “everybody does it.”
And apparently everyone knew about it. From the jokes about Weinstein on shows like 30 Rock, to jabs at award shows, it truly seems as though this behavior had been happening for quite some time. As one person was quoted as saying, “it was the most open secret in Hollywood.” Yet the Weinstein Company and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are just now expelling Weinstein to distance themselves from his soiled reputation.
This tells me one thing, and I think we need to be reminded of this: Hollywood, powerful people, entertainers—they did not care about those women or their futures or they would have stepped in long ago. And guess what? They don’t care about you, or me, or our kids. They care about us insofar as we pay their bills, and that’s all.
So what can we do to stop sexual assault and harassment from happening in America alone? I believe that sin and selfishness are going to drive this sort of mistreatment until the end of time, but there is one thing that I do believe could help in stopping the endless flow of damaging sexual images, ideals, and practices into our own homes and minds.
If people really want to see a better future, I think we need to start asking ourselves some tough questions: Although we may tell our children how to treat others, how to respect them, give them space, are we following that up with what we allow to pass from our eyes or ears to our brains as “entertainment?” Weinstein is a movie producer after all–how did he get so powerful? His very pockets were lined by us! He has produced some 80 films, and many of them are blockbusters.
What we pass off as entertainment is damaging business and relationships and teaching our children harmful messages about intimacy. What music, TV shows, and films are we hooked on which promote casual, dangerous, selfish physical indulgence? It has been proven that pornography rewires the brain and viewing it releases dopamine which satisfies that “seeker” habit, however, after a while just watching isn’t enough, and the viewer must act out their fantasies. I wonder if this is what happened to Weinstein? And did you know that the pornography industry made $4 billion last year alone? That is symptomatic of a serious problem because it reveals a “need” that is feeding this business, and also because real people don’t respond to sexual advances the same way that actors do. It is not “normal” for people to watch porn–it’s destructive, plain and simple, and I don’t know a single man who has had a problem with pornography and is recovering from it who has ever been proud that he was exposed to it.
Here’s something pretty pornographic (and I apologize in advance but I felt this was important). A billboard hit about three summers ago contained these lines:
“You’re the hottest bitch in this place…”
“I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.”
The song? Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Pharrell. And it was featured on Jimmy Kimmel, The Voice, So You Can Think You Can Dance, played over the radio all summer (we heard it over and over again while living in Luxembourg), and who knows what other TV shows. Teens were listening to this for months and months. They were being taught, through music, that it’s appropriate for men to tease women in this way.
I was going to post a photo of Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus when they performed the song together on MTV in 2013, but it was just too gross. Perhaps the most disturbing part of those images is while Miley is twerking all over Robin Thicke, young fans are reaching up worshipfully, in complete support of the perverse mess happening right in front of them. It’s no wonder Thicke’s wife Paula Patton divorced him after that.
Mainstream TV and movies, Netflix and Amazon originals are not much better. What people defend as artistic license appeals to the most carnal instincts in a person and is inherently damaging. When our children are little we want them watching educational television that will stimulate their brains, but as adults we entertain ourselves with tawdry trash that feeds perversion in people like Harvey Weinstein. I’m not blaming the public for his indiscretions. He of course is responsible for his actions, but I can’t help but think that the growing obsession with sex and self-gratification and lack of accountability in this country largely contributes to the twisted reasoning of people like Weinstein, and helped keep his secret quiet for a long time.
I think that it’s time we back up our words with our choices. This may require us to give up our favorite shows, to walk out of movie theaters or be a little less cool. So be it. Let’s stop lining Hollywood’s pockets when they don’t care enough about us to stop abuse.
I’d like to leave you with a picture of a man who did care. He was a champion for a woman who was being harassed and whose very life was being threatened. She had exercised poor judgment and cheated on her husband. A group of powerful men laid most of the blame on her and we have no mention of whether her lover was tried at all. But they dragged her into the street and prepared to throw rocks at her until she died. That’s when Jesus stepped in front of her and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” (John 8:7). The crowd, in its shame, dispersed, and the woman presumably learned from her own mistakes and walked away unscathed, her future ahead of her. So I don’t want to wholesale lay the blame on men and patriarchy. There are great men who follow Christ’s example in their fair and noble treatment of women.
In contemplating people’s indiscretions and sins, I think we should mourn the pain and loss that one miserable person caused, but we should also pray for them and search our own hearts, ask the Lord to reveal how we can contribute to change. It will take humility and grace to heal what has been broken.
I’m copying a link to an article of mine that was published yesterday in Christian Woman Magazine. It pertains to seeking help and destigmatizing seeking professional counseling. I hope that you’ll enjoy it! (Even though it was written by my alter-ego Adrienne Floss. That’s a typo that the magazine made–hopefully it’ll be fixed soon).
I’ve been ruminating lately on how much of motherhood is moment-to-moment. When they are very young, our children’s needs are immediate and small, yet they can quickly fill up a day. From the minute they are born, they start changing rapidly. Every day brings a new development, a new milestone or challenge. So much of their questions as they learn to communicate, first with grunts and then single words and then phrases and eventually complex sentences, are about what they want or need from moment to moment. Mine are always asking what we’re doing.
“Mommy, what can I do NOW? What are we having for dinner? What are we doing tomorrow?”
They see in small slices of time. There’s no long-term vision for the future in these little minds. Therefore, I started to think like this not long after becoming a mother. In these busy moments of mothering, I am often putting one foot in front of the other and thinking of what needs to be done NEXT. What diaper do I need to change now? What sticky liquid must I clean off the floor now? What meal do I need to prep for next? Who needs to get dressed? Who needs a ride to school now?
Busy-ness does not provide much space for dreaming or for long term vision. So as a mother I easily became entrenched in what was happening in my life daily, focusing on the fine details–not so much the beauty and great significance of the fact that my child can NOW hold their own spoon or get themselves dressed, but that it finally happened and freed me from their dependence on me for basic needs. I was often overcome by these little, immediate needs. I felt so smothered at times that I inwardly scoffed when older people with independent children would remind me how much I should be appreciating mine…right NOW in THIS moment.
I brushed their comments aside, knowing they were right and silently acknowledging that one day I will most certainly be in their shoes, feeling compassion and sympathy for a young mom struggling with her tiny brood, while also feeling a pull to make her aware of the treasure that she has in her young family. I brushed their comments aside because although they are most likely correct, what they said did not change the fact that in those moments, I was the one struggling. I was the one yearning for a moment alone. I was the one wondering when I’d get a good night’s rest again. I was the one wanting to put on a nice outfit and not have it covered in food stains and snot. I was the one covered up in moments and lacking vision or the hindsight to see how these moments could come together.
Just a few days ago I was sitting at the kitchen table with my two-year-old son. His older sisters have just begun their school year, and I’ve been looking forward to the days that I’m going to have alone with my son, my baby, who has had the least amount of quality time with mommy of all my children. We were alone at the table and I was kind of focused in on his round cheeks when it hit me. I am about to begin my final days as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. Over the last seven years my husband and I added three little people to our family and every day I was swept up in their now needs. It was hard for me to lift my head up higher than their faces to see the changes on the horizon, to see that the future was not “now”, but it came sooner than I anticipated. When I was home with all three of them, or even just two of them (when my oldest started kindergarten last year), it was easy for me to see all these moments as an endless stream of my reality. Like this was going to be my life forever, which is silly, because we all know that children grow up.
So NOW, when I look at my son, I see a boy who just yesterday was an infant, and tomorrow will be a kindergartner. Every time he kisses my arm or my cheek, every time he tells me he loves me and demands a response, every time he asks me to carry him or runs to me in tears with a boo-boo, I wonder if it will be the last of these moments of childhood urgency. Because moments have passed with my other two. I can no longer carry my six-year-old. My helpful five-year-old won’t be home in the afternoons to assist in putting her brother down for a nap. There’s less and less need for mommy’s help right NOW, and more that they can do without me.
Two nights ago, my five-year-old daughter was exaggerating about her speed and claiming that she could outrun me. I told her, “Yeah right, I’m way faster than you!” Then I thought for a moment and said, “But, there will be a day when you’ll be faster and stronger than me, honey. Then you really will beat me.”
Sometimes I think that I, and moms in general, could benefit from learning how to procrastinate, just enough to help us put off the trivial tasks that seem like they need to be done right NOW, to savor more of these moments. Later, our laundry will still be sitting in a pile on the floor, but our children will be running ahead, eventually too fast for us to catch them. Let’s lace up our shoes, take a swig of caffeine, and chase these moments when we can.
Source: The Angry Feminist
When my husband and I were talking about becoming parents, man, were we clueless. Especially me, I was the clueless one. Bryan has always been more of a practical realist; me–I’m more of a dreamer. I tend to get lost in thought, stare out windows, go way deeper into conversations than people really wanted to.
I’ve learned so much since the quest of motherhood began–mostly that things are never going to go the way that I expect them to go. That motherhood is full of profound, disgusting, heart-melting, terrifying, glorious, silly, unpredictable surprises. Beginning with two miscarriages, then two healthy births of two beautiful girls on opposite sides of the country, to an overseas move, to expat life and pregnancy and yet another miscarriage in Europe, to the birth of my baby boy, to a visit to the American Embassy to get his citizenship requirements in the middle of a winter storm when he was ten days old, to another overseas move from hell with a four year old, three year old and ten month old, to staying in two AirBnBs before moving into a house, to beginning kindergarten and first grade….whew, it’s been a hectic eight years. Eight years since our first attempts at becoming parents!
Somewhere during that pregnancy with Vivienne, our oldest, I decided that I was against pregnancy books–except for the baby development week to week. The reason was because I was already recovering from fear and anxiety left over from losing two babies in a row before her, and all I found when I read these pregnancy books was more fear, more “what ifs,” and illogical, crippling reasons to suspect that something was wrong with my perfectly formed and developing baby girl. I decided to trust God because that was the take-away lesson that He’d taught me through my miscarriages anyway. There was nothing I could do to prevent them, nothing I could do to change what was happening to me, and worry and fear would do nothing but steal the joy I was experiencing during my pregnancy as I felt my baby grow and move inside me.
This aversion to asking for and giving advice as a mom has carried over into my years of mothering infants, toddlers, preschoolers and now elementary-aged children. There are not many people that I will ask for advice. Sometimes I ask my own mother because she knows me, she’s completed her journey of motherhood successfully and I know she doesn’t judge me. Sometimes I ask my sister, and of course, I ask my husband what he thinks.
But mostly I pray, I ask God for help and watch for His answers, His way of leading. I’m not saying that I’m always a great listener, but I try. I try this tactic or that one and see which yields success. You see, each of my children is different and the same approach does not always work for each one in every scenario. Their moods, likes, dislikes, feelings and fears change around the clock, and if my OWN children are so diverse in their personalities, how in the world can I offer advice to other moms on what they should do when their child won’t eat this, has an allergy to that, doesn’t sleep through the night or has extreme separation anxiety? Occasionally other women will ask me for advice, but I really do my best to frame my answer as, “this is what we tried” not as “you should do this.” The word “should” is one I don’t think is good for most moms to hear–it usually brings a lot of guilt.
Another reason that I don’t give a lot of mothering advice is because there is so much I don’t know, and so much that just doesn’t interest me. I do not care about eating organic food. I do not craft. I don’t know how to sew, although I “should.” I don’t garden. I am not a huge fan of Disney-related stuff. I don’t send my kids to preschool. So basically, if you want to know about kale recipes, DIY Halloween costumes, how to grow fist-sized tomatoes, where to get the best Disney passes (I don’t even know if that’s the right way to say that), which preschools in the area are the highest rated, I am not your girl. I’m aware of the areas where I lack knowledge or skill.
What I do know as a mom is that these years go by so quickly. I do know that it’s okay to tell your children that you don’t have all the answers to their questions. I do know that it’s okay to cry and be real in front of them. It’s okay if you yell and lose your patience, as long as you’re willing and ready to say that you were wrong, ask for their forgiveness and follow it up with a big hug and a heart-felt “I love you,” and try, really try, to do better next time. I do know that your kids think you are so much more wonderful than you believe or imagine. I do know that they think you are wicked smart. I do know that it’s okay to lock your self in your room and cry out to God. I do know that it’s okay to tell them “no” or “not right now.” I do know that going for a walk with them, playing “doggies” with them as my kids love to do, or eating popsicles with them on the front porch will make just as big of an impression on their little hearts as a day at Disney World. I do know that they love the sound of your voice and the feel of your arms. I know they think that you are an incredible artist. I know they think you’re pretty. I know they love to dance with you. I do know that you’re tired and your brain feels short-circuited, but if you take the time to answer their questions honestly, you have a chance to impact their lives forever.
I know motherhood is probably not exactly what you had in mind. I know that there are moments that you wish that you could stay in bed, or go on vacation, or be able to finish a mediocre blog-post without a pint-sized person crawling into your lap. (I know that if you are afforded the opportunity to do any of these things, you actually really miss your kids after a while and just want to go home.) And when you start to feel guilty about having these escape fantasies, don’t buy into the lie that a “better” mom wouldn’t want to get away. Instead, recognize that you love your kids enough to care! That hesitation/elation that you have over an opportunity to go somewhere without your kids (the supermarket, a hotel, the dentist!) is a sign of a devoted and caring mother who is working hard and doing her best. Accept the things that you DO know about being a mother, the things that have served you and your family well. Capitalize on your strengths and the knowledge that you have that works. (Preaching to a one-woman choir here ladies. Sometimes we ALL need a talk.)
And never forget that there’s One who knows YOU. When other advice fails, when you’re on your fourth round of trial-and-error, remember that He has limitless patience and all the right answers. Sometimes we just have to ask the right person. And put on some make-up–that always makes me feel better. 😉