I have been reading so many various articles about parenting and motherhood lately, thanks mostly to articles my friends have posted on Facebook. I would like to share what I have gleamed from these thought-provoking articles.
Why I should have never had eight children – Leila Miller
As I think about my own parenting skills, my mothering and homemaking abilities, my individuality as a woman and a person, and my relationship with my husband, my faults clearly come to the surface. Just as the woman in this article did, when faced with the decision of whether or not to have another child when she already had four. At first she felt herself unfit, listing all of her imperfections and fears of mothering any more children, but she came to realize that…
As I stood there in the kitchen that night, a moment of grace overtook the moment of discouragement. How many times had I told others, “Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil!” I remembered it then, and my fears and anxieties were banished. Only the devil himself, the one who hates human beings to his rotten core, would taunt me with the notion that my lack of gourmet skills should preclude new life in my marriage. I saw the evil of it then, and I called him out.
She goes on to say:
And, while I can’t claim to have conquered all the deficiencies and vices on my list (not even close! drat!), the existence of all my children has moved me along the path of holiness. Because that’s how it works: The souls in your life are gifts, each of whom is meant to sanctify you in a particular way. My little sanctifiers are the artisans who change and mold me in all the ways God knows I need, and they are their father’s and their siblings’ artisans, too. That my family exists as it does is living proof that “with God, all things are possible”
But, these blessings certainly do bring their own set of personality and temperaments. They challenge us. They make parenting hard because it isn’t a simple approach of “if I do this, then that will follow” method, because our will is not the only one involved.
To the Mother With Only One Child – Simcha Fisher
In this article a woman with nine children writes a ‘letter’ to a mother with only one child (though I read it is as applying to all first time mothers), saying that it is harder to be a first time mom than have nine children. Many of the things she wrote rang true of my experiences with being a first time mother (especially in the first year):
When I had only one child, I truly suffered during those long, long, long days in our little apartment, no one but the two of us, baby and me, dealing with each other all day long. I invented errands and dawdled and took the long way home, but still had hours and hours to fill before I would hear my husband’s key in the door. […]
My husband got to leave the house every day, and sleep every night. He got to go to the bathroom alone. I hated him for it.
When I had only one child, I told myself over and over that motherhood was fulfilling and sanctifying and was filling my heart to the brim with peace and satisfaction. And so I felt horribly guilty for being so bored, so resentful, so exhausted. This is a joyful time, dammit! I should enjoy being suddenly transformed into the Doyenne of Anything that Smells Bad.
I loved my baby, I loved pushing her on the swing, watching squirrels at the park together, introducing her to apple sauce, and watching her lips move in joyful dreams of milk. But it was hard, hard, hard. All this work: is this who I am now?
I, too, often felt isolated at home during those long, long days when Josh was at work, and I stranded at home with no car and twins to take care of, a first time mother not knowing how I was supposed to adequately stimulate my children all. day. long. I did get bored on those days. I was resentful to have a husband who got to leave the house and have real conversations. And I was exhausted. It is a ton of work!
The author concludes that while it is easier with more children, she is still extremely busy, and tired, but she’s “broken in. There’s no [more] collision of worlds.”
To become a mother, I had to learn how to care about someone more than I did about myself, and that was terrible. But who I am now is something more terrible: the protector who can’t always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go.
Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard. You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left. […]
Dear mother, don’t worry about enjoying your life. Your life is hard; your life will be hard. That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong—it means you’re doing it right.
Mormon Matters – 49: Mormonism’s Messages about Motherhood – Dan Witherspoon
Part of the LDS Podcast I listened to talked about the idea of community parenting (and many, many other things that I suggest listening to). The reason it did so was because of the isolation many new mothers feel. One of the things I love about our current ward is that there is a weekly playgroup, as well as others willing to pick me up to take me and my kids to the said playgroup, the library, and sometimes even the Children’s Museum. There’s even a monthly book club so I can have adult conversation with other women (which I had in my last ward too, which I loved!). What I am saying is that I no longer feel like an island. I feel like I have friends I can talk to or email about parenting questions. I feel apart of a community, and I wish everyone could have that. Generally speaking that is one of the best things about our church – it’s a community.
No Excuses: Parenting isn’t hard – Issa Waters
This article on blogher certainly used some strong language as it addressed that though parenting is hard, it is not hard to treat our children with love – i.e. not yelling, yanking, smacking, tugging, dragging, spanking, belittling, name-calling, etc.
The author addresses how when she witnesses parents doing said things to their children in public they or someone else defends them by simply saying “Parenting is hard.” She disagrees with that sentiment by saying:
People who are mean and abusive to children don’t have a parenting problem. They have an abuse problem. Except it becomes a parenting problem when there are people running around saying ‘parenting is hard’ as a way to excuse the abuse of children.[…] Parenting is supposed to be a loving relationship between parent and child, and it should look like one, and that shouldn’t be hard.
I know I have had my fair share of moments seeing other parents in public treating their kids less than agreeable, like once at the WIC office when a mother called her child “evil.” I was horrified that a mother would call her child, who was a little rambunctious, evil, even though he was only 2 or 3 years old!
I once wrote a post about The “Hard” Things of Parenting Toddlers but in it I did not say that parenting was hard, but that some things/actions of our children can be hard on us, the parents.
Our children are perfect. They are beautiful. They are fine. They are innocent (and certainly not evil). Even when they make messes, destroy books, smack their sister, they are innocent. They are still learning right from wrong! They cannot be held accountable (until about age 8). But, WE, as parents, ARE accountable for our reactions and actions, for our language, and our tone of voice.
Of course I need to teach my kids morals and values (and you can read about my toddler tactics here) but in a loving way. Jesus taught and corrected people constantly, but in a way that showed love. It is good to discipline.
I know that I am not a perfect parent. I too often let my anger and frustration (or lack of sleep or illness) stop me from being patient and loving like I should, and I admit: I yell at my not even two-year old twins, and am a little too rough sometimes, both of which are things for which I feel stupid and repentant for immediately, every time.
I ask myself “Why am I freaking out at them?” It is because I have forgotten. I have forgotten that they are more important than things, whether those things be appearances, social norms, time, a clean house, chores, peers, society, expectations, whatever. I sometimes act like the child. I sometimes forget they can’t reason or operate like an adult. And again, I always feel stupid for forgetting those very, very important things. In those moments I have forgotten their true natures and the important work I am doing every day – raising children unto Christ.
Abuse is never our children’s faults. It is our own. So, I agree with the writer of this article. Excusing this behavior is not acceptable. Yes, parenting is hard, but we are the adults. Let’s try to be better about emulating Christ’s form of discipline by reproving at times with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom we have reproved (D&C 121:43). We also need to remember that whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt 18:6).
Don’t Carpe Diem – Glennon Melton
As a mother I try to cherish my children, and enjoy the small, every day occurrences that testify to me of the great love and joy they bring into my life. I try to seize the day, or “carpe diem” even though I do not, nor cannot “carpe” every moment of every day since children mess with the best laid plans (and I am imperfect human being who desperately needs Christ in my life). But, as explained in this article, I hope I can remember to have “Kairos,” or God moments every day:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
I just don’t get how believers cannot not “seize the day” in regards to being intensely grateful. I will not in any form deny that parenting is tough. Period. But that does not mean that we can give up being grateful. […]
God longs to be in every single moment of our day. And He is there, but how do we see Him there? We give thanks and then we see the miracles EVERYWHERE. To just bless God for the obviously magical moments, to me, is missing an entire realm of grasping heaven on earth; for so many of the ‘crazy, hard, don’t appear to have any purpose in them’ moments are the very ones that demand our thankfulness so that we may see God for Who He really is.
I think she is absolutely right. We do need to strive harder to see the hand of God and his blessings even in difficult moments, even though His hand may not been seen until later.
To Become Like Mine
One of my old friends from college started a blog whose concept I love. Their blog is called “To Become Like Mine.” She and her sister share their sacred experiences of their children teaching them, of their children being examples, being faithful, and developing their own testimonies. They record the things their kids say and do because they want to become like their little children: they want to becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Mosiah 3:19).
They also know that except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:3-5). May we all remember that. And remember not to be so hard on ourselves. Remember to not compare ourselves to others.