05 March 2012

on my heart: how we parent

I've been thinking a lot lately about the endless decisions we make as parents.
How we raise our children to become caring, compassionate, responsible adults who see the world as bigger than themselves. Who want to do right and good and make the world better.
I've been thinking about the millions of decisions we make, big and small, that impact our kids. 
How we have to learn so much as parents by trial and error.
About how we are with one another, especially as mothers.

I was talking to my sister the other day, who has a super sweet four month old, about sleep.
I was trying to remember what worked and what didn't for my babies.
I remember being absolutely wrought with guilt over my inability to follow certain sleep training methods. 
All my friends (or so it seemed) had their babies sleeping 12 hours a night by 12 weeks.
Me... not so much.
I remember nursing my baby at 4am, beating myself up because I hadn't accomplished what they had.
And then it dawned on me: I didn't really care. I liked being with him in the still, quiet hours of the night, cuddling him back to sleep and crawling back into my own bed. It worked for us.
When I had that realization, it was like freedom for me.
And guess what? He slept 12 hours a night the moment he was weaned, and has done so ever since. 

It got me to thinking how we, as mothers, fall into this comparison trap.

How many hours a night does your baby sleep?
Do you cosleep or are they in their own bed?
Did you let them cry it out or do you nurse them to sleep?
Are you sending them to preschool?
Are you going to homeschool, send them to public school or private?
Do you give time outs?
Do you let them have candy?
How much tv do your kids watch?
When did they start walking?
How many words can they say?

And on. and on. and on.
Part of it is that we want to know if we're doing the right thing.
Being a first time parent is exhausting if for nothing but the constant second guessing of self. 
There are approximately 4 bajillion parenting books out there telling us at least 12 bajillion different things. 
And you know what? They all work. For somebody.
But every kid, every parent, every family is different. Trust me, we have three kids, and we've used many different methods to get to the same result. 
Don't get me wrong, I love hearing what other people have chosen to do, because it does help, and sometimes it gives me new ideas. But it doesn't always mean it's going to work for me, or for them, or for us.

My point is: let's just stop. Let's stop comparing and judging and being convinced we've got it figured out. Or being overwhelmed by the fact that we don't have it figured out.
And let's go beyond just stopping. Let's build each other up.
It hurts my heart to think that we become insecure in our motherhood because we don't think we're measuring up to another mom's ideal. If you want to homeschool, I applaud you. If you want your kid to be a vegetarian, more power to you. You are a cosleeper? Enjoy!


The most important thing is to do what is right for you and your baby. 
There are a few things that I think every kid and parent needs: love, prayer, and discipline.
But how that looks in your family is likely different than how it looks in ours.
We can learn from each other as mothers, we can offer understanding, we can share what has worked for us.
I just hope we can do it in love and with confidence.
It's okay to feel like you don't know what the heck you are doing.
{I am convinced the only people who have childrearing all figured out are people who don't have kids.}
The bottom line is, if you desire the highest good for your child, you are on the right track.
You are a good mother. Believe that.
To me, there is no greater compliment than that. 
As mothers we experience inexpressible joy, deep sorrow, and run the entire emotional gamut in between.
We have been given a gift and a weighty responsibility in raising these little people.
The comforting thing is, God is beside us in all of it, has laid the way, has created you just as you are and your child just as they are. He knows what you need and when you need it.
I feel blessed by the community of moms around me, and I hope you do to.
And I hope above all that you know that you are doing an amazing job loving your littles.
You are doing a great work. Well done.





18 comments:

  1. oh, you said it girl! especially about the childless people who have it all figured out!!! so true!

    amen!

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOVE thi post =)
    I dont have my own kids but it certainly feels like it (I nanny sometimes 7 days a week). Each one of them responds to different things in different ways. You can't have the same methods in one family as another =)
    So beautifully written!
    Much Love,
    L

    (allglorious-within.blogspot.com)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had a pediatrician be so snotty that my 6 month old woke up at night to nurse. "well if you want to encourage that kind of behavior!" thank heavens I was almost 40 so I said "I'm not encouraging a behavior I'm feeding a baby," she would nurse and go right back to sleep, that is called hunger.....needless to say that was the last visit to that pediatrician. It kills me to think what she is saying to younger Mom's or people who think a white coat means you know something who would've afraid to drop a doc. Parenting needs a heart. Nobody knows your child like you do or what you are ok living with. You are the expert.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Even though I'm not a mother, I enjoyed this post so much and think that you are so right!! Sometimes taking a step back and realizing that works for one, may not work for all really does put everything back into perspective. Happy Monday!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks so much for sharing this post! This has been on my heart, too. In fact, we had a speaker at a mom's group this morning who said we (as moms) need to believe 3 things:

    1. we are the exact mother our children need
    2. we have grace for each season of parenting (but not the next!)
    3. comparison is a deadly disease

    Amen, sister! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Literally have tears reading this. SO what I needed to read right now. Thank you for this tiny gift of support.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You hit is right on the head. Thank you thank you. It actually could almost be "part two" for my most recent post. Loved it. Needed it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So very, very true. All of it. Thanks for reminding us that we are good mothers, because we are doing what we believe to be the best.

    ReplyDelete
  9. SO good! I completly beat myself up too about nursing on their schedule instead of following "the book". Now looking back I also am so glad we had that time together and wouldn't trade it for anything, especially not bragging rights ;) YOUR A GREAT MOM!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. yes! encouraging each other is where it's at. us mamas need all the encouragement we can get, don't we?! thanks for this great stuff
    <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm just reading this as I nurse my sick 8 month old back to sleep at 4:30 am & it couldn't be a better time! She finally started sleeping through the night (when she was ready) & no that she's sick & teething she's been having a major relapse... and I've been having major stress about it. I think I need to bookmark it & reread regularly. It seems to be so hard to remember. Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. THANKYOU! ;)ITS ALWAYS SO AMAZING TO ME HOW GOD USES PEOPLE TO SPEAK INTO YOUR LIFE RIGHT AT THE VERY MOMENT YOU NEED IT. SO AMAZING.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We were at McDonald's yesterday. Boyd was playing and I was sitting by a couple of moms talking about a certain subject on parenting, and they were so judgemental and just going on and on. It made me so sad to hear them. I love this post and agree with every single word. Wouldn't the world be a better, more enjoyable place if we all lived by these rules?! Like my grandma always says, as long as it's not immoral or illegal leave people alone and let them be. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great perspective. I just finished a week of "sleep training" with my 5-month-old and I also miss the sweet nighttime cuddles we had before. It's great that she's sleeping, and I do wish I'd done it earlier, but sometimes my mommy heart aches for those tender midnight moments cuddling and nursing my sweet blessing baby.

    ReplyDelete