Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Warning: Experienced Mom Tells All

This post is for all you mommas out there.  It occurred to me as I was cleaning what I can only guess is cat or dog vomit from the new front room carpet, that I am not a newbie mom anymore. (I don't know why my best thinking is done during chores like this...but ahhh, such is my glamorous life.)

All of my kids are pretty much "big kids" now.  My baby will turn five this summer and will head off to the kindergarten in August.  In some ways it seems like they are growing so fast; some periods of time from the past nine years of motherhood have become a blur in my memory.  But in most ways, I am just so happy to be where we are right exactly now.  Everyone can talk, walk, and use the bathroom for themselves.  No one has hit the drama and hormones of the pre-teen years yet.  Parenthood is never easy, mind you.  I have to break up fights over the Wii daily.  But I have deemed this the "golden age" and will delight in it while it's here!

So I've been living it up here in pre-school/elementary wonderland, and my little guy and I have been going on fun adventures before he goes to the Big K in the fall.  And we've met lots of parents and kiddos doing the same thing.  This time around, however, I feel like I am the one who's been around the momma block more than most.  I'm the one who's been through the nights of little sleep and toddler-proofing and tantrums and came out wiser and stronger on the other side.  Let's face it, while our little darlings learn so much during the first few years of life, the learning curve for parents seems just as steep!

So as I look back on my time as a parent...I remember myself as a new mom barely balancing full time work and irregular hours and pumping breast milk in my car before a meeting and how new and scary everything was even though my little baby girl was well worth any sacrifice.  I remember becoming a family of four and how grown-up I thought my tiny 19 month old girl seemed next to her new baby brother.  I remember going back to work barely 6 weeks after giving birth so our family would survive and getting a phone call that there was a mistake and I still owed money on my first baby before getting the hospital bills for the second.  I remember how having my third baby seemed almost like a vacation in the hospital (A room to myself, room service, and only one child to care for? Cake, I tell you! CAKE!).  I remember how freeing it was to know I didn't have to go back to work as I made the transition to stay-at-home mom.  Until the months rolled by, and I felt isolated and overwhelmed by three young children who demanded all my time and energy and even the simplest outings led to meltdowns of kids and mom alike.

I love my kids fiercely.  All of my kids are beautiful, smart, God-given wonders and there are so many milestones to celebrate during their first years on planet earth...I am incredibly thankful and humbled to be their mom.  But early parenthood was hard.  Physically hard.  Emotionally hard.  Financially hard.  Plain stinkin' hard.  So if your babies have you grasping at the last straws of your are certainly among friends here.

I have met those moms who just seem to be supernaturally gifted and love every aspect of being a mom of babies and young children.  If that's you, then more power to you, Momma!  Rock that spit-up on each shoulder.  Truly, I learn a lot from you and am amazed at you.  But I think I am just more gifted when it comes to relating to older kids.  Kids that understand logic.  And empathy.  And sarcasm.  (Yessss...much sarcasm...)  So if you are in survival mode as a parent right now, let me encourage you.  You will sleep an entire night again someday.  Drool and poo will no longer be on every item of clothing you own.  They will not surely die if you allow them to watch an extra hour of TV on difficult days.  Give yourself a little grace.  You have never been a parent before, and no one has ever parented these particular kids at this particular time before.  You can seek good advice, read good parenting books, and Google until the sun goes down and comes back up, and you are still going to make parenting mistakes.  But God has entrusted YOU with this child and He will be there even when you feel like another second of parenting will drive you bananas.  I love the wording of the NIV version of this Bible verse, "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)  We are responsible for giving them a good start. (Yes, the very best start we can!)  But God holds the responsibility of fulfilling his promise. 

When I was pretty much hanging on by a thread of the very end of my parenting rope a few years ago, God gave me an excellent vision that illustrates this verse.  Now, I'm not usually one who claims visions from God, but during a prayer time at church one evening, my mind clearly saw my kids- beautiful, strong and grown-up- laughing and running towards Jesus with outstretched arms.  In that moment, suddenly I saw the fulfillment of that very verse.  Not only were my kids not turning away from Christ, they were running full speed toward him!  That encourages me to keep being the parent I know I need to be, even when I don't see immediate results of all the work I'm putting in today, tomorrow, or the next, oh....decade or so.

You are not alone, Mom.  And it will get better.



Jen said...

Well said, Beth! Thanks so much for writing this, sharing your heart, and providing encouragement for me! Hugs to you ~ Jen Kerr

Beth said...

Thank you, Jen! I love watching your family grow! Hugs back and maybe we can see each other in the not too distant future when I'm up in the GR area!

Lisa Joy said...

Oh, how encouraging, Beth! I find myself counting down the months (there are still too many days to count) until my littlest is an official "big kid," and it's encouraging to know that it will someday happen. For now, I'm working on enjoying the cuddles, the sense of trust, and the curiosity that are part of the toddler years. Thanks for sharing and giving me a peep of what's on the other side of this particular stage of life. Love you!

Rebabella said...

Thank you for saying the things that no one else says! Beth you are truly an amazing person and I am sure a great mom!

Laura said...

Yes, yes, and yes. This is exactly where I am right now. I'm the mom that was so happy to quit her job and be a sahm. Now, almost 2 years later, the triplets are taking me to the edge of my breaking point daily! Lord help me when we start potty training. I feel like we are in survival mode when I really want to be in "thrive mode"