Hello dear ones! I hope you are well. Today we will be talking about Sabbath. My pastor and church have been diving in to this topic again and it got me to thinking. What does Sabbath look like to a mom? I imagine you, like me, thinking that is a great topic...for someone else. But Matt 11:28-29 says “Come to me, ALL of you who are weary.” If there was ever a group of people who are weary, I say it is today's moms.
In my church we are talking about the culture in which we find ourselves, New Jersey 2018. We all agreed almost across the board, NJ 2018 is a culture of exhaustion. We are unable to restore and refresh. We typically numb out with anything that helps us keep going, games, tv, food, alcohol, drugs (prescribed or other.) We have lost our focus as a people.
My pastor came up with a better prescription, God inspired I believe. It has some church specific elements so I will try to generalize for you. Please understand, as he explained to us, these are meanto be tools and not laws. God will show you what you can do in your specific situation as a mom and wife and daughter of God.
(If you are not yet a daughter of the King then there is a way that you can be and that takes presidence over anything else here. Children of the king get to eat from his table. His table is full of good gifts and it is yours to share when you love Him and serve Him as your Master and friend. Find a good guide to help you if you are just starting out.)
For the rest of us, who have been walking a while but maybe got a little overwhelmed by this mom thing! There is hope for us too.
What does this Sabbath rest look like for a 24-7 mom? You are one if you work inside or outside of the home. The elements for everyone that my Pastor lined out are these:
OK so I want to talk about these one by one but I want to switch them up for us as moms. I want to focus on the most important first and work my way to the least, in my mind as pertains to mothering.
Worship: of course, our focus is Godward. There we find the strength for it all. Worship is restorative too. Spending time at the feet of the king is the best. So what are some ways you can do that? Colicky baby is demanding all my time, or no nap toddler is running me ragged. What can we do? What has been most restorative for you prior to baby? Let's tweak it for today. Do you love worship music? Blast some over that colicky cry and sing while you dance and pat her back. Dance and sing with your toddler. Pray outloud while you pace with your baby. Also, serving a trying child with a good attitude and praying over that child can be an act of worship too. It is also Ok to put your child in a safe place (crib, swing, child proof room) and take a few minutes to yourself and pray. They can cry for a few minutes without fear that they will hate you or need therapy. (we have plenty of other sins that they will likely need therapy to overcome, oooh.)
Worship can be done in the midst of life and it can be messy and hormonal and in short bursts but it will be honored if it is from your heart.
I have so much to say on this topic of Sabbath I think I will do it in a series. So the bad news is, this is a cliff hanger. The good news (maybe, you ARE still reading) is that there will be more and it will be this week. Stay tuned readers. More Sabbath rest coming up soon. I hope that during this week, you are able to take a few minutes out of each day, or more, to rest and restore and refresh. If you get to actually have a Sunday Sabbath, I pray it is also refreshing and that you use it to hear from your Father who loves you. I am praying for you all.
As you walk right past that culture of exhaustion and give up the old ways, God will bless you. Practice, yes practice the sabbath. If you forget, start where you are. Ask God to remind you or show you pockets of time that are fit for Sabbath rest. You are no longer a slave, the sabbath shows others and reminds you, that you are free but dependent on a very good Master. Do the first things first, “Seek the kingdom of God above all else and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:31 (NLT)
Yes, lovely ladies and awesome gents, I do not only provide a village for others and preach a village for the blog readers but I do in fact have one myself. I am so blessed.
Are you the type of person, like me, who sees needs and fills them when she is not really thinking of returns? Like, unless I'm feeling bitter or something, I rarely sing< "what have you done for me lately?" (see Janet Jackson from the eighties, you young'uns) I really do get joy and other positive emotions from just being around for people when I can. I have not given much thought to where my village is at, though I know I have one.
When I write this blog, though I know I am going to post it on social media, I really don't think of specific people. I feel much safer writing this to "internet mom." That way I don't judge my thoughts too harshly. See if I thought of that-really-awesome-put-together-mom from church or radical-barely-parenting-mom-of-boys from co-op, well I would spend far too much time thinking about how they will take what I am saying. Yup! that's me! I struggle with people pleasing.
Ok, rabbit trail has criss-crossed over itself and now back to the tribe I was talking about. I wrote the last post thinking of Internet Mom and not my "inner-net" moms. Yes, I made that up. But seriously, I was not thinking of people I know seeing my post to moms who are struggling to make ends meet and really not imagining them checking to see how I am doing. But my tribe did. I had offers for rides and grocery money and help with my daycare room set up and more and more. My tribe, though not living in my village, rose up to care for me. I was astonished at the gifts from people who I know have also struggled. I especially benefited from the stories of God's grace. This person was paying it forward from a time when she was living with her family in the in-laws house. Another, had rewards from Costco and how things transpired so that she could use it to bless me. The way things lined up for these other moms really showed me how God has not abandoned us but is keenly aware of every little thing we need.
I saw my tribe and where I also contribute to my tribe in encouraging words and stories. That is worth so much in growing my faith. I am learning through all these situations, how very much our Lord has grown me. It used to be that I would panic if we could not meet bills or eat what we were accustomed to but slowly I think, that is not truth but God will meet all my needs. For my own sake, though I hate to admit it, He usually waits til the very....last......minute! Don't ya just, argh!
Yes, I do not just say over and over, "get a tribe." I am living it out. And how did I get this tribe? I prayed and asked God and then I got to work, peeking out of my introvert shell and reaching out of it to help someone. I did not do this expecting any return. I didn't say to myself or anyone,"I helped you, now when the time comes, I'm going to need a favor." (No Godfather tactics here). I just did what I could do to be a friend, to listen to a hurting acquaintance, to agree with a new mom who could barely make it to church that this stuff is hard. Proverbs 18:24 says that a person must show himself friendly to make friends. I have seen the dividends and often not from those I have invested the most in. I have clearly seen my tribe, my people and my sisters. One fellow tribes-mom told me that she read that post and gave me the Katniss salute. That in itself showed me that being real is what God has in mind for this blog, if one mom hears me and can go on another hour? Mission accomplished. Thanks for being there tribe. Unmanicured, dirty fingernails, Katniss salute to you all. Back into the fray!
I have been really busy. I am getting ready to launch family childcare in my home. I had been praying about this for a while. Then, my family's one and only car died and I thought I will get the playroom (see pic) ready (since I am not going anywhere). I thought, I will build it and see if they come. While it is not a field of dreams it is a dream of mine to spend more time at home while still ministering to other children and families. So I prepared my space with the things I have and some donations from friends. While I have been home though, I have been without income. I have a little side Etsy store, and my husband works intermittently in entertainment, but these do not even begin to cover most of the bills. So while we will not be evicted we are living very tightly right now. I was thinking about this today as I shopped with coupons and the lowest budget ever: I wonder if there are any moms reading this that have found themselves with too much month and not enough money on a frequent basis.
So you have a newborn or a toddler and the stress that that can bring to daily life, you have your own doubts and insecurities and then you have the added pressure of how you are going to eat or pay car insurance or put gas in the tank. I also noticed, there are very few mom you-tubers who are showing you this side of life. You could look for someone to give you mom advice and end up thinking, she has good thoughts but she really doesn't understand me on her pretty couch with perfectly placed art on the walls. I just want to say,
“I SEE YOU.”
Many times I wondered, how can I even get to the “household hacks” when I feel like a hack at life. I have been there. I want to tell you that I don't even have a happy ending for you. I really like Brady-Bunch-perfectly-wrapped-up endings with lessons learned and tousling of bowl haircuts. But I am still in it. I have stepped out in faith,changing focus again. Though it is not a change of gears, my purpose is still and probably will always be, God willing, to care for moms and babies. But it seems that God in His goodness and sovereignty has chosen to start me on this new focus. I did not get a sign from the sky, unless being stuck on the side of the road with a dead car is a sign. Possibly so. But I used 2 weeks to turn my storage-y basement into a playroom and then my dining room into an arts and crafts studio. I am trying to make lemonade out of my lemon of a car situation. (see what I did there, lol).
Are you struggling? What focus have you had to change? Please remember that even though these situations are stressful, it does not make you less. My Christian counselor always encourages me that, “you have nothing to earn and nothing to prove.” You may wonder why God allowed this situation and I really cannot say. I am not God. I DO know, God is not surprised by the situation you are in and He is saddened by your suffering too. He also will not leave you there. He promised to use these things for your good. You cannot tell now what that will be. He also promises to use it for his glory. How in the world God will be glorified in me not having a car for 3 weeks and therefore not being able to babysit in the homes I have been working in? HMMMM, that remains to be seen. But I am trusting. Well, mostly trusting, most minutes, sometimes I am ugly crying and yelling but I am also telling my emotions to trust Him. Emotions are more of a temperature gauge. Like when you touch a hot stove, nerve endings tell you get your hand off that! Emotions tell you, something is wrong here! Emotions are not the truth though (or so I am told). The truth is you might have a burn or you might have moved away in time. You say, "ouch", maybe more than ouch and now you have to deal with the truth. After you feel your emotions you can ask, "What does this situation tell you about your heart?"
Lastly, why am I dealing with this on a mom blog? Tough situations make you look to your foundation. Is it strong? If you are busy mentally with finances, housing, food supply, you will have trouble focusing on the children's other needs because these basic needs are so urgent. It's ok because God made them resilient and especially newborns have few needs, wear them so they can feel you close. The hormones given off by touch will also bring YOU some relief. Same if you are nursing, its good for both mom and baby. If you have a toddler, try to take a break and cuddle them on your lap, read a story. If you have an older child, talk to them about what's going on. PS they already know something is stressing you out, might as well tell them. Explain that you are trusting God with this but it is hard to do. You can help them to get it now so they can live it as they deal with things as an adult. I also find that though it is frustrating, my teens are starting to understand how good they have it even if it is different from what friends have, especially because our church is mission minded. The girls are seeing the big picture in a hard place and I think it is drawing them nearer to God. This is what we want. In the moment though, I want to cry because we are having beans and rice again and not take-out or restaurant food that the girls prefer. But I have a new sliding scale after being in Uganda and seeing what they do not have but the joy they do have. We come to realize though, as I have said before, these things we use to compare are not the things we need. As we zoom out, we see that people need, truly NEED, is care and love and support. All of which are free. We can join in the centuries of humans who have lived in hard times and survived. Even we have lived through hard situations and got closer to a God who loves us. There is your strong foundation. Look at the big picture when you can, study the word, especially old testament mothers who show us perseverance because they knew that the current hard time is not the end of the story.
My very humbling grocery trip today still makes me glad. I have food for us and though it was some of my very last dollars, I know there is provision for those who love Him. He is pleased to give us the kingdom. That He will, if I see it here in this valley or not.
PS: I am currently working on providing in home childcare but I am still available for postpartum work if you are a local reader. After I get my feet on the ground with the childcare I will also be offering online consulting during certain office hours and I will also still be blogging. You cannot get rid of me so easily as that. I may even be Vlogging in the future. So keep coming back. Blessings, Paula
This month has been filled with the ups and downs of busy life. We started the month with a crazy dash to find the money for my second born daughter for camp. We had planned to have a few more weeks to get that done but found the session we planned on was filled and had to step it up. God provided through extra work and a family member. We took trip one to the Poconos (3 hours round trip). The second week has been filled with getting the first born daughter working papers, for the same camp that second daughter is a camper at. So trip 3 to the Poconos (the 2nd was camper pickup). My first born will be working 2 weeks at camp. They are not consecutive! So I have 4 more trips up there before July is over. Why am I sharing this with young moms?
I wanted you to know that one day, this season of child raising will give way to another and before long they will not have daily needs but the needs might be bigger and different. But the same things basically apply. You will need to be a detective to feelings. You will not always get a teen who wants to chat and you will have to ask questions and use intuition to see emotions they might not even realize they are experiencing. You will guide them to use their upper brain processes to move from an animal action to a more rational thinking action. Just like you must do with a toddler, the subject matter just changes.
My girls get so much joy from camp, just like I did as a girl. Homeschooling makes it easy for us to not be too busy during the school year. We keep activities to the things that the girls really care about and point towards where God seems to be leading them. Camp is a investment that is crucial to these two girls. Just like you, with young children, you will have to see what the child really gets the most joy from and follow. You cannot do everything, even if your perfectionist brain thinks it can. So please, pick and choose the best things.
This makes me think of those, get out the door battles at toddler age. Your child likes structure but not at the expense of some downtime. If you have an activity planned at all times, you might be afraid of just existing with your child. I know moms like this. From park to library to nap to snack to gymboree. There is no free play or if there is a planned hour for free play it is only for the best of educational toys. Some days these children never touch the ground. Car seat to highchair to crib. If that child gets frustrated, is there any wonder? She just wants to spend time with you. You are her hero and role model and she wants to just sit with you or climb with you or eat with you. She is wired to copy you if you haven't noticed. This stage is aptly called the Parrot stage because this is what they do, parrot every word and every action. Monkey see, monkey do.
My point in all this rambling is that you need to slow down. Busyness is not your friend with an infant or toddler. Slow deliberate calmness is the way. Take time to read a story at the library. I visit lots of libraries, I hardly ever see a mom and child reading there. I see kids on the computer, parents quickly choosing books so they can leave and children playing with toys while mom says, 5 minutes and then drags them out crying. This is not just for them but for you. Stop and examine that bug or leaf with new eyes, young eyes that never saw the lines in a leaf. Not only will it help you gain new perspective but it can help your stress levels as well. Give up some of those plans and live in the moment. Try it for a little while and see what happens. Love to hear your comments about how this little experiment works for you.
Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net from Pexels
I'm really not political. I mean like I run away from debates like the plague. I am more neutral than Switzerland. If you see a political post on my Facebook then it is my code for come and find me I have been abducted and need help. That being said, I have to react to the recent unpleasantness at the borders. I MUST. Families are essential.
I think I have mentioned my mission trip to Uganda before but in January of this year I went on this life changing adventure. The middle of their summer in the dry season I was in Kaberamaido. We have this amazing “carepoint” where we meet the needs of children who are, usually, orphaned by the loss of one or both parents. They must receive school fees and food and most of all love. On my trip, I received all the love and joy I could handle. So why do I bring this up in a blog post about uniting families?
While I was there, I experienced the true meaning of family. I believed foolishly that I was going there to give. I never felt the need to be a savior, I have a Savior already and so do they. I did feel like I would be a teacher to some young people and some mothers. I thought as a Postpartum doula I would impart great knowledge about bonding and attachment. The mothers of Uganda have all the knowledge they need. The people I met there, like Florence and like Monica, (the names they asked me to use) were mothers to everyone. They are my age probably or a bit older, but so much wiser. These women humble me as I see them easily caring for the other mothers and children around them. Men are quite scarce in that community. Either they were murdered by guerrillas, dead from disease or with another family because they make the rounds. There is also rampant alcoholism. But none of that changes the way I saw family shown to me. Aunts raising nieces, grandmothers nursing grandchildren, sisters looking after each other's children and older siblings (I'm talking 8 or 9 years old) with infants strapped to their backs going about their day. They were all looking out for each other. I realize I only saw a snap shot and that often we put on our best for visitors but I am certain that children are valued there and families are together fighting for a better life.
I look at this and I compare it to our lives here and I feel like we really are missing something. I know I have talked before about community I also want to talk about attachment. The babies I saw did not often cry. These babies had their need for touch met by being carried everywhere by many relatives and friends. They were fed on demand by the breast of the closest lactating mother. The children, as they grew were given freedom that was developmentally appropriate. It was intuitive and completely safe because everyone was looking out for everyone else. Now clearly, as I have already stated, it is not all roses and there are needs in Uganda. But here is the key, in the poverty and the diseases that permeate the country, the people are looking out for those in need. If a family member is homeless or without food, the extended family believes it is shameful to not care for their own.
Here from my soapbox, my words are clear. Do you want to change the way our country is going? Work on making better people. You don't think cuddling your baby can have any way of making a better future? You would be so very wrong! This is THE way!!!
Bonding changes brain chemistry. Brain chemistry effects the way we see things. The way we see things can create a paradigm shift. We can bring this care for each other into our way of thinking. We can love our way into creating a new way. Keep families together. Feel the weight of your own power as a mother. You can change things, but not in resistance and war or laws and divisions. You change the world by rocking a baby, holding her close to your heart and making sure she feels loved! This baby will then grow, maybe she will be a policy maker, maybe she will see the way she developed well emotionally and help others learn to help their babies. Maybe she will hold her baby and help her to grow into a adult with a healthy emotional life which also betters the lives of others. Can't you see how important you are? If you want to change the world start with the children who think you are the world and think the world of you.
PS I am reading a fascinating book about brain chemistry. This is not a plug, I get no gain from sharing this. I just want to share this resource with you. Oh, and I just thought of another I would recommend if you are interested in how you can effect the brain chemistry of your child for good...
Anatomy of the Soul:
The Whole Brained Child
What an amazing thing it is to give birth! It is probably the hardest thing you will do, ever! Filled with emotion and strength, it is truly glorious. God is bringing His plan for a new life into the world through you, isn't that incredible. It also feels weighty. It is relatively easy to care for your baby when he or she is inside. But how do you make the transition from pregnancy to mothering? Can you prepare for this at all?
What will life be like after you bring home this new person? What can you expect and what will be expected of you? You probably are pretty skewed one way or another. You might have the picture of a fabric softener commercial, everything is in soft focus, you place your freshly bathed infant in a huge fluffy towel as they coo at you and give you a first toothless grin. You are diapering and dressing them with confidence. Yes, you will have those days. Possibly you are fearfully thinking of another scenario, a colicky baby like the one your sister or friend brought home who cannot stop crying, will not sleep and projectile vomits. Yes, there will be those days too. But like everything in life, it is a mix of both. If someone tells you it is all one way or another, they want you to admire them, either for soldiering through or for being a perfect parent. Neither will be your full time experience.
So back to the question, what can you do to prepare for the new adventure of a child?
I think the first tactic is to create a nurturing environment. As you build a nursery room or nook in your bedroom, make it an inviting place that you can relax in. Create a nursing space in your living area with good books, a charging station, a soft light and a place for a cold glass of water. The more relaxed you can be, the more relaxed the baby will be. The baby is created to receive cues from you! They can sense the stress hormones or they can sense the oxytocin (a relaxing hormone) created by bonding, milk production and breastfeeding. You can do a lot to help make the baby content and it starts with creating an inviting environment for you, which brings dividends for you, too.
The next thing is education. Now, if you take nothing else at all from me, this tidbit is key!!! Don't miss this. Educate yourself about a style that feels right to you and follow your intuition. If it isn't working for your very unique child, or you, scrap it! Don't let anyone tell you there is only one right way to parent. Even if there is someone who you admire, a real or even a perfect-seeming person, they are not you, they did not have your child. This is not a computer we are dealing with but a person with real feelings and real personality built in. It cannot be and will never be, “If I do it all by the book I will get the perfect outcome.” There are just too many variables in God's creation. If we could know what worked for every single child, there would be no need to google anything. We would all have the manual and all have cookie cutter children. However I believe we all have an inner manual installed while the baby grows. It is called intuition. If we attune ourselves to the inner voice of our intuition, we will know what to listen to, what advice to take, what to leave behind. Which brings me to the next thing I think is crucial.
We can prepare for this transition by getting our tribe around us. Wise women a little further in the journey than you will be an asset you cannot measure. You have heard me harp on this already, if you follow me. If you do not have a church family with someone you can cling to, look for a moms group, a person from your childbirth class, a postpartum doula (I know a good one), and even a Facebook mom group. All these can offer some support so you can keep yourself from being isolated. Look for a few helpers to come alongside you. You will not regret it.
These three elements are key to my mind, to start to prepare for this brand new journey. There are other things that can help but no toy, no app, no gadget or technology can ever replace your intuition or your own special way to comfort and care for your child. You were made for that child and that child was made for you. You have a purpose in their life and they have a purpose in yours. Relax and enjoy your baby, they love you! Try to find your joy in the little moments when they look in your eyes, grasp your finger. To them, you are a superstar and if you are caring for a little one day to day, you are a superstar to me too.
Well, I'm not the greatest content writer, am I? I am learning so much about this blogging thing as I go and it is a challenge for me. Then, I went to the ER with abdominal pain and then shortly after that I got a cold that has lingered for almost 2 weeks. The kind of head-foggy cold that made it so I couldn't write if I tried. But I was reading as much as I could and I hope I can translate some of it here.
I have been learning about a thing called TBRI (c) and it is fascinating! I have taken to psycho-analyzing my family and friends, its very productive. LOL. Seriously though, I am learning more and more about how the principals I use in my postpartum care are perfect for helping little minds grow.
Here is a little taste of what this is about: (don't you love these wipe board art videos!) youtu.be/FWScSJKjn1A
Its a short video and a wonderful place to start learning about trust based relational intervention. I hope you explore more that the Karyn Purvis Institute has graciously made free on youtube. I plan to study more so I can share some of the really good stuff with you. In the meantime, I hope my cold goes away and I am sorry my content has not been very frequent but I think you understand as moms how these days just get away from us. Please keep sticking with me. I love your "company" and that you give some of your precious time to read this blog. I don't take that for granted. Praying for you.
My girls are getting older. I have one that is just 2 years from graduation and at this rate she may do so earlier. (yes we homeschool). But looking back at the earlier stages of life there are some things I wish I had done. Each girl has a very different personality so I will say this is not the case for each one and I won't say who is who. That might result in therapy bills. But my thought is that if I share some of these you might implement them yourselves. As it stands, I can't go back so here is my list. Dear Younger Me-
I wish I had taught them to clean as they go. I had a friend who would constantly remind her toddler and preschooler to clean up one category of toys before moving on to the next. As I watched it felt exhausting to keep after them like this because at that age, play changes direction every 5 minutes (if you even get 5!) However, as I studied Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach, I saw it in there. It was an example about closing the door. The first mom in the example was sure to make the child close the front door every single time and if they forgot they must return immediately and do it. The second mom only reminded occasionally. The first mother's child quickly became accustomed to making sure he always shut the door and of course the second one took far longer and therefore the mother of the second child had to continue nagging. The simple consequence of always having to immediately come back became enough to change behavior. So in our example of the toy problem, I thought I was fostering creativity by letting the girls move from toy group to toy group when really I was fostering mess. Fast forward and I am still reminding girls to take their things out of the living room and “please put them where they belong!” I have to make them leave what they are doing to clean up but the consequence is not enough anymore. I am feeling like a nag.
I wish I had practiced better self-care. How many times I thought I had it all together and then came to the end of myself. I did not ask for help until it was so far past where helping would have prevented a meltdown (not in a toddler but in me). I realize now that this practice is something my children need to see me doing, especially since I am raising women. I am trying to make sure they see me taking time to do things that promote both growth and rest in myself. They saw me work for my doula certificate in Postpartum care. I also want them seeing me taking a Sabbath rest (not always on a Sunday). I want them to feel that home is a refuge and they can be at rest in their home. Now and in the future. I want them to see, like I had to learn the hard way, that it is good to take care of your body. We are not just a brain bag. Too often, my rest was not physical, my care was not relaxing to my body or my brain. Remember, what they tell you in the airplane, apply your oxygen mask first before assisting the less able. It makes sense.
I wish I had relaxed and enjoyed the baby stage more. Everyone tells you but it is so true, this goes by fast. There are fun things to enjoy about every stage of child development but blink and it is gone. There are only so many firsts. I wish I had not been so worried about doing it right and fearing mistakes. I am seeing how some mistakes, both mine and the children's are what God has faithfully used to make us better and closer to Him. Even if by some miracle you were able to do everything “just right” (whatever that is) you are still raising imperfect babies and they will become imperfect people. Sorry! I don't like that idea either on the surface but it is actually so fulfilling to see what they will do with their flaws and your parenting failures. Take the time to just sit and snuggle. Enjoy a smile and a giggle.
I wish I knew that child birth can cause memories to surface. I want you to know that hormones and Momma bear protectiveness in pregnancy and postpartum can cause memories to pop up. Abuse and trauma that were hidden for many years may be revealed. I was surprised by them but thankfully God had a friend who was a counselor ready for me. It can be hard to work through during this emotionally charged time. Mine was an abuse in childhood and I was comforted that it came up because my inner self wanted to help protect my new child from abuse. Please reach out for help if this happens to you. It can be a factor in postpartum depression and no one has been named a hero for struggling alone in these matters. There are lots of options and some, like church or government agencies can get you help for free. Saying you are sad or frightened never ever translates into “I don't love my baby.” “I don't love being a mother.” “I am a bad mother.” I think it is quite the opposite. It is brave to share your feelings and needs.
I think it is so helpful and empowering as moms to share our regrets and failures as well as our triumphs with each other. In a world where social media paints a perfect picture of some moms and a drudgery from others, let's tell truth. We are not perfect. I would love to see a post about how a child was nurtured even though it was hard to do. A picture of a moment of forgiveness after an argument. An “aha” tweet about how mom finally figured out why baby would cry the same time every day. A victory in patience. Instead of competing, inside our heads and out with other moms, can we say, “I see you and you are doing awesome things. How can I pray for you?” Because we all have some not so awesome things in our lives and motherhood can be isolating.
Hopefully your Dear Younger Me post will be filled with reminders that you overcame hardships in community and with Jesus.
Some things never change. I once was at a Mothers Of Preschoolers(MOPS) meeting and the mentor mom there was sharing with us. She was encouraging us that some things, some personality traits, come installed. She showed us her three children's kindergarten and graduation pictures. Each revealed a personality, and interestingly, each child stayed consistent. One child had a confident look in Kindergarten and in Senior year. Another one I remember clearly is the class clown. The wry smile on this boy's face was exactly the same. It has been at least ten years since I have been at a MOPS meeting (except for one that I shared at) but this stayed with me.
Today I celebrate my middle daughters 14th birthday. As I look back she has changed, of course, but there are some ways, that are essential to her that have not. When she was a toddler, we would visit my grandmother, and Grammy never failed to say “such a smiley kid, I never saw such a smiley kid!” When you meet her today most times you will see her contagious smile. She has a way of putting people at ease and she knows real empathy. She is better at hospitality than anyone I know and better at planning a bookclub or dinner than I am. She has been making place cards since she could write.
I do not remember when she started baking but her passion for it has never ended. She aspires to be a baker one day and she will ask several times a week if she can bake something. I believe the thing that gives her the most pleasure is that her creativity could make people happy. She has always been the family cheerleader. When I was sick, she would do whatever she could to cheer me up. I still have a drawing in my room that encourages me which says what I do that makes me "the best mom." This is what she has always done. Many will site birth order, she is a classic middle child. But I can attest that these traits were in her from the earliest times. As a toddler she was like this, I always had dandelions in a vase because they were “so pretty” and I needed them to cheer me. She could never go anywhere without a card or handmade present for whoever we were going to see.
Why am I telling you all this? Am I just wanting to brag on my child? Well, there has also been a timid nature to her too. She was so painfully afraid of being the center of attention. In group settings, she would be hiding in the back of the crowd. The more I prodded her to step out in confidence the further back she would hang. She had to be comforted, allowed to know she would not be forced to do anything. If I used that tactic, she would often try something she feared. I have another daughter I had to, for example, put on the merry-go-round, she would love it after but I could not let her think about it. Clearly I am not writing this to brag. Many a time I had a crowd looking at me as I was trying to calm a daughter who was crying and clutching at me, begging me not to make her do the thing she feared. It took me a while to realize too that middle daughter needed a different tack than the first. Not my brightest mom moments.
I am writing this to remind you that you are your child's best detective. Intuitively, you know what is best for your child and with a little trial and error you can know the best ways to encourage growth and acceptance in your child. Acceptance, of the personality that they came pre-loaded with and maturing of the qualities and skills you see. Allowing my little baker to experiment in the kitchen has led to some flops and those have been her greatest learning experiences. There is a purpose for each child and you are perfectly matched to help them see some of the good purposes that God has planned for them.
Your child is different from every other child in the world. They do not have your neighbor's child's temperament nor their exact situation. You may live in the same place, go to the same school and have the same cultural background but each of your children have such unique qualities. SO DO NOT COMPARE! Temperament, that is another good thing to touch on quickly, a great example of this bedtime for this middle girl of mine. She did not need much sleep, apparently. I put on soothing music and I would not hear from her and I expected to see her asleep, I would peek in and there was her little round head peeping up over the crib-rail. Never upset, always smiling at me, which was less endearing at 3 am. She still is a night owl. Temperament changes very little in my experience, the circumstances that the child brings her temperament to will but she will come at everything with that temperament.
Remember my MOPS mentor mom. Even her children's school pictures showed this consistency. I suggest you focus on the qualities and temperaments that are lovely and useful and encourage those. These will be the things that they bring to bear on the world. Encourage the God-given stuff that will promote His good purposes for them and for His kingdom. Happy 14th Birthday, SUNSHINE!
Language development was both easy and hard for me as a parent. I know that doesn't make much sense but still it is TRUTH! What I mean is that talking all day long is both a simple task and extremely fatiguing for me. I am an introvert and lots of “peopling” makes me need a quiet recharge. ERROR** Quiet recharge and toddlers are not compatible without “tribe” plug-in. If you know you are introverted you will have to ask for help to get the recharging you need. Extroverts proceed.
So though introverted, I still value teaching my children how to communicate. I learned from several sources, positive and negative that the best way to build language in children is to use it. Now this may seem elementary but it really isn't. It especially can be hard for someone who either is in her own head a lot or the other extreme, someone who really doesn't know herself well. But this is another opportunity to grow relationship and your own character. Sacrifice is so very evident in every part of motherhood isn't it. But my dears, joy is so close behind it.
So here are the best ways for both introverts and extroverts to foster language in all ages and stages of children:
Paula is a wife and mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula