This post was inspired by a dear friend in my church. So, to Angie, here’s a Top 5 blog post for ya!
I have been a mom for 21 years. I am a mom to 6 kids. Two adult children, one teen, one pre-teen, an elementary age child and a toddler…all at the same time! Here are the top five things (in no particular order) I have learned in these past 21 years.
- Don’t parent out of pride. This one is a doozy. When our first child was born we were young, inexperienced and she was a strong-willed baby and child. During this time our family mainly consisted (still does) of our church. As churches go, trends happen. Being on the strict side was the parenting trend at this time. Our precious, much prayed for, long awaited daughter pushed all of the limits and created new ones to push. Being a compliant person myself she threw me, challenged me and made me question my ability to effectively parent. Needless to say, I took people’s judgemental comments to heart and allowed them to mold the way I parented. Hence, I was tougher on her, myself and my husband more than I needed to be. I wish I would’ve had more of a confident to-each-his-own attitude for the times I knew what was right yet was persuaded by the opinions of others sway my parenting. Comments like “My child will never do that!” and the like really don’t have a place in conversations especially when the speaker has no children. Before we brought our ninos home Hubby and I had many conversations. I don’t remember much of what all was spoken in those dimmly lit late nights. However, I do remember telling him, “When I start parenting out of pride, please let me know.” I knew our ninos would come with a whole set of new challenges. I knew that there would be a whole set of new people to judge and comment on our parenting skills. Most of whom haven’t had children from foster care. My, our, parenting mirror needs to be God not others.
- Balance. For me, this is an everchanging act on the thinnest of balancing beams with me falling off much of the time, landing too hard on my bruised bum. I need order, much of it. Kids need order too. However, finding that balance between order and fun, just letting kids and life be what they/it is, is hard. Too much time spent on the domestic duties and relationships suffer. Too much time spent playing, talking with the kids, running them to every extracurricualr event and the domestic parts of life suffer. Too much time working, in your hobby, spending time with friends, etc. you get the picture. We are ALL busy. Your busy looks differnt than my busy. BUT there has to be a blance. Your balance will be different than my balance as well. There are times when it feels like all you do is wipe bums and spit up like your baby (or child for that matter) is ever attached to you for food or to your hip. You are hungry for who you were before kids. Hungry for adult conversation. See number 4. There are times when you are drowning in homework, science projects, award ceremonies, sporting events, see number 4. There are times when the house is too quiet and your schedule seems to empty…really, this does happen. Cease those times to pursue those things you have put aside or to be honest, catch up on the domestic side of life if the quiet season is a short one. Because, yup, see number 4.
- Pray, read your bible. As a christian woman this is numero uno to keeping it all together, to get a stretched out mom back in shape, to refresh, bring hope to a broken momma’s heart, to conquer those demons (um, I mean unfavorable behaviors) regular parenting can’t. The devil doesn’t want you to maintain your relationship with God and he’ll use life to keep you from daily communing with your savior. Over the years my devotion time has changed, adapted to what was going on in our life at that time. Since bringing our ninos home this has been one of the most needed most important aspects of my motherhood. Yet it has been the most attacked, the most lacking, such a struggle. I have been a christian long enough to see the enemy’s strategy in this. Take this morning…I have established a 5:30 am morning devo time (be encouraged, I am NOT a morning person), last night we were up very late with a church event. Hubby was off and let me sleep in this morning. So nice. Everyone was either at school, work or running errands, except for the general, who was peacefully sleeping. We made all sorts of noises this morning, but when I sat down on the other side of the house to pray here comes the general scooting down the hall and into my lap. Needless to say, otherthan letting the enemy win, I had a prayer partner. Dear mommas, no matter how many dishes you have, how many loads of laundry are hollering your name, how many appointments or errands you need to go run to, preserve and fight for your devotion time with God.
- This too shall pass. My mother-in-law would quote this to me many times when life with our oldest threatened to undo me. At first, I dismissed it as a cute phrase some moms tell other moms when they don’t know what else to say. However, I learned how to take this to heart. I made myself a print and placed it in a prominent area as a constant reminder. The diaper phase, the sleepless nights, do pass. The “no” and “why” phase do pass. The talking back, the child knows better phases do pass. The endless exhaustion, endless needs to be met do pass. Even the teenage phase passes as well. Motherhood is full of sweet triumphs, tender kisses and belly jiggling laughs seasoned with too much salt, too much pepper and not enough coffee. Don’t get caught up or stuck down for too long in the harder phases. They do pass, sometimes (to quote a T-shirt I read) like a kidney stone, but they do pass.
- Laugh. Never underestimate the power of a good laugh. Take this one dinner when I had had it with our two kids. For whatever reason I was ready to delve out the strongest of punishments, to silence the kids at least for one meal time. However, Hubby who had been at work all day came home fresh and had not dealt with the kids’ craziness that day. He was not burnt out. Instead of acting as judge and jury that meal he so rightly acted as a comedian. He made some kind of joke and changed the whole atmosphere. Talk about an eye opener. God truly spoke to my heart that dinner on the power of a merry heart, of lightening up.
- Okay, there is one more. Expectation. Thankfully Pinterest did not exist when I first became a mom. Golly, there are enough expectations on how to act, how to look, how to entertain, how to…the moment your little one comes into this world that we do not need the help of unlimited photos at the tap of our fingers to raise the bar to almost an unreachable level. I am thankful that I have the experience to bolster my confidence and know that our children will be just fine with an old school type party, etc. Also, to be completely honest, my mom expectation took a hit from foster to adopt. I was the PTA mom who was ALWAYS at the school endlessly volunteering, making Martha Stewart worthy, heck Pinterest worthy cupcakes. I was a domestic diva on the verge of a wonderful and adventurous food blog. I entertained. I was very active in our church. For the most part doing it all while staying in line with number 2. Then BAM! Welcome to reality. I really tried to have no expectations going into life with our ninos, but they were still there. No longer were my kids top readers at the summer reading program (they barely picked up books or sat still long enough to do so). I no longer was a familiar face at their school…okay I was but for all different reasons, IEPs, kids getting into trouble, etc. Dinner, ha!! Can we call for pizza again? Yep, I burnt dinner again. The children’s’ needs were so great that healthy homecooked meals were out the door. While some of who I was before our ninos is making a comeback, it is slow going and I still have to let go of what I want to do and face where we are right now. Because you got it, see number 4.
I hope this helped you. I hope that my gray hairs are not for nothing, that my experiences can help you, dear readers. And while I have learned some things, I know that I am always learning, I would love to know what you have learned from motherhood.