How I’m learning more about Christ through raising my children…

It’s amazing how you can grow your whole life & think you know who Jesus is.  Especially when you’ve been raised in a Christian home.  But then you grow up & birth little sinners right into your home.  Sure I had this idea of how it would be with my children.  They would be little angels from GOD.  Of course they are from GOD, however, they are not little angels- quite the opposite most days.  I had my first child & she was the most compliant & easy going child I knew.  I thought to myself, “I’ve got this parenting thing.” HA!  Then I had a few more kiddos & let’s just say that the more kiddos I’ve had the less I’ve found that I know about anything!

A few months ago I started questioning our parenting techniques.  All we’d ever known & read up on we had done.  You know? First time obedience?  But I had this problem- how could I truly expect first time obedience when I myself fail so often with the LORD.  I sin.  I sin daily & yet I’m expecting my child to never mess up.  I’m expecting them to do far than I even expect of myself.  I began my dig for something anything to help me with how to do this parenting thing.  And realizing that I don’t have a clue of what I’m doing.  I knew that I wanted to raise well-rounded children who knew how to think.  I didn’t feel like they should be robots & I shouldn’t control their every move.  I want them to know the love of a Savior that even when they do sin- they have forgiveness!  God’s grace is amazing & HE loves them.

I’ve never seen that kind of parenting lived out.  I’ve only seen the opposite- you do what I say when I say OR ELSE.

I should state that we had really been dealing with our third (out-of-the-box) child & were really struggling with how to handle him.  It was getting worse & worse every.single.day.  To the point where he’d go to his room & say with tears in his eyes, “no one likes me”.  That was the turning point for me.

I had come across some of Sally Clarkson’s writings & had even downloaded a book of hers on my Kindle.  I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel as I started realizing my failures as a mom & how I could resolve them.  She gave no formula, she only spoke words of wisdom! 

Things like: “When does ‘treating others the way we want to be treated’ end-  when we have kids?”  My children are people.  They are people who sin- it is NOT my job to correct their every little mistake- it is my job to treat them as I would want to be treated.  It’s my job to treat them as Christ teaches me with love, patience, kindness & did I say patience.  How would I feel if Christ was following me around with a switch ready to swat me at every mistake?  (Disclaimer: I do not use switches I was just giving an example.)  I’d feel rather defeated & would probably give up.

Christ showed love even to the VERY unlovable.

Look at Judas- Jesus KNEW that Judas was the betrayer yet he broke bread with him & AND WASHED HIS FEET!

My thoughts are kinda going everywhere… but this has become a great passion of mine.  I haven’t mastered it by any means.  By I’m working toward it.

Another thing I’ve found is- this isn’t the easy route.  It involves much more work on my part.  It involves me making a choice each time an issue is addressed- what kind of heart issue is this?  Who cares if you can get your child to obey you the first time if you’re not engaging the heart.  Okay, so your child does everything just as you tell them to- the first time why?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s not because they respect/honor you it’s “fear-driven obedience”.   I don’t want my kids to obey me just because they’re scared their going to get a spanking.  I want them to obey because they love me & honor me.  How do they know to honor/love me?  Because I repeatedly honor & show them love- day in and day out. 

Most of all I’m learning that God’s grace is for me to.  As a mom I need lots of it- especially with 4 little ones running around.

OH!  I almost for got to tell you.  Changing our thinking on our parenting has caused us to deal with our “out-of-the-box” child much differently.  Do you know that just spending a few extra minutes with him each day (often times more) has made all the difference in the world?  Realizing he’s TWO & not putting him in the same category with my older two has helped us tremendously.  Taking the time to do the things he enjoys.  Not yelling because he pushed his sister, but instructing him on why we don’t push our sister.  I mean HE’S TWO!  He’s learning.  I mean his two older siblings push him why can’t he push the 1 year old?  He has not concept of her age & what she can handle.  And so on & so forth. 

I hope this wasn’t a complete bore.   And I hope that if this is an area you struggle with you would take the time to step back & look at your children with the eyes of our LORD & savior.  If you have a tough toddler- pray & ask HIM how to handle that person.  He will assist you- I can assure you that!2013-01-07 11.34.53

Words of affirmation… go a long way

Let me tell you a little bit about my day yesterday!

The morning went fairly glorious.  Kids played for an hour with playdough at the kitchen table- peacefully.  My baby girl took a good morning nap during this time- & I actually brushed my teeth before 10 o’clock.  It was lovely. I was sure it would be a good day like the previous two days.

Somewhere between cleaning up the playdough & lunch my nerves were done.  A two year old that constantly wants & throws fits when his needs are not instantly met can cause a mama to go a little nuts. 

“I wannnnntttt a benana (banana), Mama”

I get the banana- he’s disappeared.

from another room he’s crying because he wants something else- that he cannot have.

He comes back to the kitchen screaming that he “waaaannnntttsss aaaaaa benana NOW!”

Wow- did he really just talk to me that way?

yep.

During all this I have a fussy (teething) 1 year old (to be), a puppy out of her “area” running freely about the house, & a 4 & 6 year old running chasing one another through the kitchen- screaming gleefully.

Don’t you just feel like pulling your hair out sometimes??

Add endless amounts of sleepless nights- for all sorts of reasons.  Too low dose of my fish oils & my app on my phone ringing to let me know that mother nature should be visiting within a day or so.

By the time my husband got home for lunch I was at my wits end. 

Why?! Why?! Can’t I be the mother who is patient, gentle & kind— always.

Why am I so unpredictable? 

I decided to call my (previous) midwife & ask her some “fish oil questions”.  She called back, but had to let me go shortly thereafter to talk to her daughter (who had had back surgery that day- totally understandable).  I basically started giving up.

No one had time to talk to me.

I get very few encouraging words from outside of my home.

I just needed to be affirmed as a mother.  Just something.

I sat down during naps & started youtubing some Sally Clarkson talks.  Sally is my role model.  I love her because she’s not perfect- she doesn’t try to be, but joy floods over me as I read her writings or listen to her speak. 

There was on particular talk that I had seen before, but never watched it.

“The Myth of a Perfect Life” was the title.  And it’s just Sally talking for about 10 minutes or so… about how we as mothers never feel we measure up.   We believe there is a “perfect life”- we have this imaginary image of other mothers out there who have small children as well- who miraculously do everything right.  Their houses are always immaculate, good homemade bread is always baking, children are clean & never get dirty, their floors in their kitchens never look like mine, organized pantries, the list goes on & on… (just look on pinterest- really.)

Her point was – it’s not like that.  We are all struggling.  Life is NOT perfect.  There are messes & there is sin.  This world is NOT supposed to be heaven.  Why do I think it’s supposed to be?! She said, “your kids are not out to get you when they mess up or cry or whine or fuss.  They’re just being kids.  They’re not all sitting around plotting against you.”  Boy, it feels like that sometimes.

I felt some encouragement in listening to her talk in her dear sweet voice- assuring me I was not alone.

My midwife calls me back finally.  We talk about the fish oils & in fact I was about 4,000mg BELOW the therapeutic recommendation.  She then starts saying words of affirmation that I needed so desperately to hear.  She knew little of what my “issues” of late were, but she assured me that I was normal.  That GOD in fact loves me.  And that I’m doing a good job.  That’s so nice to hear when so often those around either say NOTHING or say things they shouldn’t.  And you know what else?!  She asked if she could pray with me right then on the phone.  She began praying- and the words she prayed over me meant more than anyone can imagine.  When I got off the phone- I felt so uplifted.  I felt strength.  I felt like I could make it.

Sometimes we “young mothers” or mothers of “littles” need that affirmation that we’re doing a good work.  That doesn’t mean that you have to approve of everything we do in our parenting.  It means that you believe in us.  This is a very hard time we’re living in. We’re constantly doubting our selves… we need to be lifted up.  Sometimes that means stopping & praying with us & encouraging us.  WE NEED THAT!!!!

Do me a huge favor?!  Tell someone they’re doing a good job!  Call them.  Stop them in the store (or in the line at the post office).  Write them a card.  You have no idea what kind of day she may be having.  It may be the hope she needs to make it through the day.

7 things to encourage a mother of the “Little Years”

1. Tell her she’s doing a good job.  I can’t tell you how important this is to young mothers.  Especially when you’re in a restaurant or store & maybe your child(children) isn’t behaving perfectly.  Some times instead of glares… just tell me it’s okay & you’re doing a good work.

2. Ask her if there’s anything you can help her with.

3. If you’re in her area call or text her & see if you can drop off a cup of coffee or something she likes. Some days this would be so lovely.  My husband is good at surprising me from time to time like this 🙂

4. Take her to lunch. My husband gives me “breaks” often.  Sometimes it would be so nice to go out with a wiser lady who would encourage me in my walk with the LORD.  And offer good sound advice on motherhood.  Not offer formulas etc., but just encourage me. 

5. Send her a card- just because you were thinking about her & wanted her to know someone was praying for her.  This lifts my spirits more than a lot of things.

6. See if there’s a household job you can help her with every now & then. CAN I GET AN AMEN!!!!

7. If you have teens- encourage them to be a help to a mother of little ones… without charge (ironing, folding, dusting, bathrooms).  I have found that many teens are willing to “help out”… if you offer them enough money.  But we’re on a budget.  If I could afford a house cleaner then I would get one.  I will raise my children to work- to serve others out of the love in their hearts for that person & their family- not for cash. 

Do you have any to add to this list?