Archive for January, 2011
Life hurts sometimes. Sometimes the pain is so deep you can’t picture making it through the next moment. Sometimes your heart is left in pieces that can not be put back together to make the same shape. Sometimes I don’t understand God’s will or His ways or His plan. Sometimes I understand exactly what He’s doing but I don’t like it. I don’t want it. Sometimes our circumstances are unbearable. Truly, literally unbearable.
But life is also beautiful. Have you ever seen God at work in His people? He is beautiful. Have you ever heard your 2 year old express empathy for a hurting friend? It’s a beautiful innocence. Have you ever read the words of a grieving widow? Caught just the smallest glimpse into her soul? It’s a beautiful window. Have you ever sat in silence because there is nothing to say? It’s a beautiful silence. Have you ever made a new friend- simply because she loves the one you love? It’s a beautiful friendship. Have you ever seen God’s people carry each other through? It’s a beautiful community.
If we struggle to make it past our pain without ever learning lessons from that pain we miss out on seeing God’s beauty. We miss out on a chance to grow more like Christ- our most beautiful savior and perfect example of one who shouldered His burdens with grace. One who helped others carry their pain. One who chose to step into the ugly to make something beautiful.
If I am going to go through it I’d like to come out the other side just a little more beautiful.
I’m one of those people who will read a topic as thoroughly as possible when it applies to me. Getting married? I read all the books on planning a wedding, premarital counseling, budgeting, etc. Pregnant? I read everything from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to “Belly Laughs” by Jenny McCarthy. Raising kids? I’m reading all of those too- do you have any recommendations?
I tend to pick and choose which advice I take to heart. I don’t have any problem pulling bits and pieces from various sources and combining them all into my own unique style. I apply a little “Love and Logic” here and a little “Happiest Baby on the Block” there. I’m firm on an early bedtime a la “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, but totally relaxed about potty training a la “Baby 411″.
I don’t compare myself too often to other parents either, other than occasionally thinking “Man, I am NEVER going to do THAT!” or it’s sister “Ooooh, I can’t wait to try that with my kids.”
We had the pleasure of hosting my husband’s cousin and his family for a week this month. They are moving here from Portland with their 3 year old and 8 month old twins, and we offered them a place to stay while their household was being shipped across the country. While the dad went back to Portland to get the dog and the car, his sister came out to help with all the kids. Both Stacy and Michelle made several comments during their stay about how calm I am as a parent. Or how good I am with the kids. Or that they want to try what I do with their own kids. (Please note- on Monday and Thursday we had 7 kids age 3 and under in the house. Yes, you read that right, 7 kids under 3! The rest of the time was relatively peaceful with only 5 kids!)
At first I was a little prideful, thinking “I AM a great mom! My kids ARE well behaved!” Then I had to laugh. I mean really laugh. And not at them, but at myself. I have a two and a half year old and an 11 month old. Oh, of course there are difficult moments, but Michelle’s kids are several years older- she has a whole host of behavior issues my two year old hasn’t even thought up yet! Stacy has two babies to deal with- in addition to her toddler. Of course I seem calm to them- I don’t have the challenges that they have. I don’t have to work full time and deal with the ramifications of the bad habits they pick up in child care. Or coming home exhausted from work just in time to deal with dinner and bedtime 5 nights a week. I don’t have to weigh the needs of my toddler with the screams of my twin babies. I’m not moving across the country with my 3 small children!
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other moms. To think that this mom has it all together or that one isn’t doing a very good job. But what do we know about her challenges? About the help that she gets? About the unique personalities and needs of everyone in her family? What does she know about how easy or difficult my kids are? About how much sleep we got last night or how sick we’ve all been for the past month?
I think it’s a great idea to watch other parents and get ideas of things we can apply to our own parenting. I do it all the time.
I think it’s a terrible idea to watch other parents and judge the success of our own family by what we think we see.
I do think I’m doing a good job raising my kids. I try to remain calm, to discipline consistently and with humor, to get down on the floor and play with my kids, to share with them God’s love. Some days I do better than others.
As do you.
Let’s try to be gracious to each other. Let’s encourage and lend a hand. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. Does anybody benefit when we roll our eyes or make a snide comment? Is anyone better off when we ignore someone’s struggle rather than offering to help?
I think it really does take a village to raise a child.
When JT was a baby he was a tank. I mean that boy was HUGE! He was in the 97th percentile for several months. So we never thought much about feeding him. He always seemed to get enough- even during that time of transition from breast feeding to solids. We offered him healthy choices, he ate what he wanted, and that was that.
Kate has always been petite. I mean tiny. As in 17th percentile at her 6 month check. As in she’s still wearing size 1 diapers at almost a year. And while she’s always been an enthusiastic breast feeder, she has refused to take any liquids from any other source. Bottle? ”No thanks.” Sippy cup? ”Not right now.” Breast milk, water, juice? ”I’d rather not.” We haven’t let this worry us too much since she’s happy to eat solid foods. In fact she loves to feed herself and prefers table food to baby food. The girl will out eat JT when she’s in the mood- it’s not uncommon for her to finish his leftovers!
So imagine my surprise when I brought her in to the pediatrician last week for the croup and they told me she’s fallen off the charts for her weight. She’s 11 months old and 16 pounds 2.3 ounces.
I don’t tend to be a guilty parent. Guilt doesn’t serve much purpose, and I’ve never been one to wallow in it.
But I knew she was tiny. Why hadn’t I been encouraging her to eat more? Why have I been so relaxed about ensuring that she has 3-4 meals a day in addition to breast feeding? (Because she rarely acts hungry and is such a good eater.)
When she was 9 months I debated with myself about bringing her in for a weight check, just to be sure she was still within the healthy range. And I talked myself out of it. (Because she is growing out of her clothes and has moved up a size since she was six months old.)
This one has thrown me for a loop. Perhaps it’s due to other circumstances in my life right now, but this is really bugging me. How could I not have noticed that she’s too small? What kind of a parent doesn’t feed her kid enough?
I know I’m overreacting.
I know that she’s happy and healthy and growing- even if ever so slowly.
I know that our pediatrician will have good advice for me when I see her next week.
So I’ve been praying for God’s peace and wisdom in this matter.
I actually suspect that God is using this challenge to remind me to stop being so reliant on my own strength and to be more dependent on His.
I am learning to listen more closely to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this is a lesson in listening.
I am trying to be more in touch with God’s plans for me and less tightly attached to my own plans. Perhaps this is a reminder to let go of the things I think I know.
I am desiring to be more grace filled and compassionate for those around me. Perhaps this is showing me my own fallibility, that I might have more sympathy for the mistakes of others.
Or maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing and Kate is just petite.
(Kate and her Auntie Susan)
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