I always chuckle when I hear my husband comment that our third baby has been our easiest baby. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was about 14 months old, she doesn’t really like being with anyone besides my husband and me, and I got pregnant with our fourth just before she turned one. The busyness and exhaustion is always present. But, there has been an overwhelming peace this time around that has made it a joy to be a momma. Every moment just seems sweeter. Somehow, as our family increases and my load gets more and more full, my heart has learned to rest and enjoy these little years.
As I pondered this, I thought I’d share some thoughts in hopes to encourage other mommas out there. I’m a relatively young mom, with young kids, so I’m not an expert. But, I started this blog with hopes of sharing where God has me so that maybe others might get something out of it too. So, here goes. . .
1. Rest in God’s Sovereignty
Just like that, I jumped into theology. But, I think the thing that has brought me the most joy as a mom is knowing that God’s got this. He knew my kids before they were even “inside my tummy.” He chose ME to be their Mommy, so He will equip me with what I need. He has a plan and purpose for each of them. I can’t mess that up, I can only trust Him and try to show them Jesus along the way. When they’re sick, when we deal with discipline, when we’re trying to figure out how to pay for this troop of rugrats. . . HE’S GOT IT. Whether things turn out awesome or what feels like the worst, He is the AUTHOR OF THEIR DAYS. And, He loves them more than I do.
2. There is Not a Right Way to Parent
This is where I’ll probably make people mad, well if I didn’t already by talking about sovereignty. With my first child, I thought there was a right way to do most things. With my second, that way still worked. With my third, nothing was the same. Remember how I said my third baby didn’t sleep through the night until 14 months old? Well, the first two slept through at 6 weeks old because of my awesome sleep training methods. However, those same first two children did not really begin to eat food until they hit about 4 years old. I seriously don’t know how they survived. Baby #3 eats more than they ever have (in a healthy way) and has since I started introducing food to her around 6 months old. Each of my children respond to discipline in different ways and need a different approach. It’s not a free-for-all and consistency is important, but MY CHILDREN ARE NOT ROBOTS. They are each a unique creation and God made them with their own personalities and needs. There is not a perfect way to parent each one of them, but there is often a right way to parent each individual child (at least for that day!) and it’s my job to strive to figure it out and allow God’s grace to comfort me when I don’t. I love gleaning wisdom and ideas from other moms-especially those who are older and have gone before me- but, we have to learn to filter out what advice is treasure to keep and use, something to put on the back burner for later, and something to throw in the trash because it’s not right for us. For me, humility is essential in this as I seek God’s direction for us and also my husband’s wisdom as we do this together. I have found so much rest and joy as I let go of trying to “do it right” all of the time.
3. My Children are Humans and Sinners
Discipline can be such a controversial thing in the Church. As a Church we often succeed in creating our own Civil War over spanking vs. not spanking. I have my opinion on what I feel God has called me to, but this is not the end all of parenting. The word discipline makes me think of the word disciple. My kids each have their own wills and will choose to either do what is right or do what is wrong. In our house, we talk about wise or foolish choices. But, ultimately, they are choices. I cannot control their hearts and wills. I CAN pray for them. I CAN teach them what God’s word says and seek to use it as much as possible. I CAN show them that their choices have consequences by giving them consequences for their actions. I spent most of the first years feeling discouraged when I looked at other parents because I didn’t have those quiet spoken compliant children and feeling like I was either too hard on my kids or too soft. In this past year, I have experienced such peace as I let go of expecting a perfect outcome and instead seek to pray with and for my kids watching God change and grow them into little people who love and follow Him. It’s working too! I have seen a huge softening of my older two’s hearts and a desire to love others and God because THEY want to.
4. My Best Tool is Prayer
Why do we forget this so easily, Moms? We will all probably rattle this off as truth, but do we do it? Do we pray without ceasing for these little lives we have been entrusted with? This is something I’m learning. This parenting thing is all something I’m learning. So many times over this past year, I have found myself overwhelmed and wishing for answers. But, it’s not until I stop and pray, that the answers flow into my heart. This happens over and over- either my husband or a friend shares something that is exactly what I needed to hear, or scripture pops into my head that directly answers the questions. Don’t think for a minute that I am implying that if we pray, we will get an instant fix for every problem we face. But, in the hardest moments where the answers either have not come or were not good, I have then been given the peace and presence of Jesus to comfort my heart as I wait on Him. THIS IS GOLD. This whole prayer thing comes from watching my own momma. She raised five kids of her own and we were each completely different people. I watched as she would pray and God would give her the wisdom to lead us and speak His truth into each of our hearts in ways that we would receive. We have each taken different paths to following Jesus and needed her (and my dad) in different ways, but she had the tools to do that because she was armed with God’s word and His presence as she discipled us.
5. My Husband is My Best Friend and Teammate
This is not advice, but I am humbled by this blessing. I’ve had this mushy feeling in my heart these last few weeks as I look at all he does for us. We hit the 8 year mark of marriage and with almost four kids, it feels like so much longer. This has been our busiest and best year of marriage. We get less dates than we ever got and much less sleep, but somehow it just gets better and better. He’s still romantic and tells me I’m hot, but watching him build lego sets, make Baby grin her coy “Daga” smile, teach big girl to ride her bike without training wheels, clean the kitchen late at night, mow our lawn, finding my car filled with gas when I thought it was empty, and running to the store for ice cream at midnight because I had a craving. . . those are the things that melt me. So, shout out to you, Ryan! I could not do a day of this journey without you and whether filled with exhaustion or fun, each day with you is my greatest treasure. May we never stop treasuring each other and learning how to be a better and better team. May we always kiss first when you get home before you greet each of the kids trying to get in the middle and push us apart.
Momma friends, I hope you read this and find it laced with grace. I hope you stop feeling like you are failing and learn to allow God to make you the best mom your children could ever have so that you can rest and enjoy these quickly passing little years.