Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parenting…Whew!

I truly believe that parenting is one of the most HUMBLING callings of all time. It is hands down the most phenomenal, rewarding, fulfilling role and such a treasured gift. Of course ALL great things also come with great responsibility. That is not something we take lightly. I have been praying since before we even had babies that the Lord would give us wisdom and discernment in raising them and surround us with godly mentors to shows us the ropes. He has absolutely put some INCREDIBLE people in our lives who have the “fruit on the tree” and we have learned so much from them. We are so thankful for their wisdom, guidance, and example.

But…Nothing shows you that you need to constantly turn to Jesus more than being parent.  All of the reading, mentoring, podcasts…they are important and very helpful tools, but they aren’t THE answer. God is our answer, and we have to continuously seek Him for wisdom. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they change & grow. They are their own, unique being. And although it’s hard to imagine when you are holding a precious newborn, they are born sinful as all of mankind is. I think the Lord uses our children to show us our need to truly depend on HIM, daily.

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(And grace…sweet grace! We need big doses of it ourselves just as much as we need to learn to give big doses of it.)

When you think you’ve got it all figured out, watch yourself…that might be when He yanks the rug out from under you and gives you a big dose of humility.

Being a parent has felt pretty easy for the most part thus far. Both of our boys have been very laid back, happy & healthy babies. We are so thankful for that and hopefully do not take it for granted! (It has been an answered prayer because we prayed specifically for those things.) I’ve called them both our angel babies because they have both been so easy. I have 14 nieces and nephews, the first of which was born when I was six years old, so I have grown up around babies my whole life. I know the baby phase can be a tough one.

Neither one cried much. They have both handled all of their transitions extremely well so far. They are sweet, happy, smiley boys. They both eat and sleep well. Nap well. Learn well. They’re smart, tough, & funny. Jase did everything quickly. Potty trained in a couple days.  They handle change well. Rarely sick. Honestly, it has just been pretty easy parenting them. They bring us so much JOY!I know I’m a rose-colored-glasses/glass half full kinda gal, so I’m probably forgetting a few of the tougher times (because I know there have been some), but overall, this parenting thing hasn’t seemed too hard so far.

But then we hit 3. As in 3 years old. And WHOA. Can anyone say threenager? Because “terrible twos” is totally a myth (was for us anyway), but the threenager is REAL.

I’m sure there are some people who have read my posts about our angel babies and laughed inside thinking “Ohhhhh her time is coming!” Well, it’s here folks. And I’m sure some of the more seasoned moms are giggling a little on the inside reading this.

Honestly, Jase is still such a sweetheart. We have lots of times where he is pure joy, makes me laugh hysterically, and completely melts my heart. He has such a sweet voice and randomly does and says the most precious things that I wish I could just bottle up. I love watching his little mind work & grow. I am so proud of him and so proud to be his mom! He can be so helpful, thoughtful, and has such good manners most of the time. And I have NO DOUBT he is going to be a strong leader, mighty man of God, and warrior for the Lord. (So that means we have LOTS of training to do!) I cannot wait to watch the Lord’s plans for his life unfold because I truly believe he has a BIG calling on his life.

But, like kids do at some point, he is testing some boundaries. There are times he has tantrums or says or does things & I literally have NO CLUE where they come from. If he’s hungry or tired, he can be very ill (most of us can relate to that, right?). He can be insistent & stubborn and sometimes disobedient. Sometimes he talks back.  Sometimes when other adults talk to him, he will ignore them. We are in an awkward phase where he needs naps, but sometimes refuses them. (Yes, we have quiet time instead.) But if he does take a nap, even a short one, he stays up WAY too late. I catch myself making excuses for him when he isn’t behaving the best or has a sour attitude, but realize quickly I can’t do that.

These are some of the things we are working through right now.

I 100% believe in having high expectations & standards, while at the same time reminding myself he is only 3 and I don’t want to expect too much, especially because he looks and acts older than he is. (Although for the record,  I do think kiddos are capable of more than we give them credit for!) I’m trying to find the right balance of grace and expectations, while remaining consistent & firm (in love). I know lots of those things we are working through are just “training” things that we need to work on more diligently, so I am trying to find the balance between taking personal responsibility for things I haven’t worked with him enough on and things he should know better. And at the same time I’m wondering “Do I hold Kade too much? Do they feel equally loved and each get enough attention? Am  I remembering to teach Kade the same things I taught Jase?” It’s just a LOT.

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I think more than anything I don’t want anyone to judge our kids (or our parenting). Of course I know you can’t worry about what other people think, and ordinarily that is not a trap I fall prey to, but for some reason it’s a little different with parenting. I want others to see the precious side of my children that we do! Sometimes Jase is unpredictable, and it’s almost always the worst when we’re around other people. I have no doubt the Lord is trying to pluck the pride right out of my heart & teach me to resist the urge to raise a little Pharisee. I think He’s also trying to teach me not to allow any struggles I’ve had with perfectionism to transfer over to parenting or for me to put that onto our kids in any way. They aren’t going to be perfect, and it’s unfair for me to have those expectations. (That is a struggle for me if I’m being transparent. I struggle with expecting perfection out of myself and Jonathan too, so I’m working on that. I have seen the Lord do a work in my life in this area, but if I don’t guard my heart, it’s easy to go back.)

Up until this point, I hadn’t really felt any insecurity or doubt in my “mom abilities.” I was pretty confident. Not necessarily because of anything I was doing, but because we had such easy babies and I have read SO much that I felt equipped. But I have to confess, there have been times when I felt those doubts and insecurities creep in over the past couple months. I would think  “Am I doing okay? Is this normal? Will he outgrow this? What are other people going to think?”

This might sound counterintuitive since I have such high expectations, but I also tend to be more lenient when it comes to discipline. I have a tendency to want to let things slide. I know that is doing a disservice to my children though so I personally have to work to be consistent there. Leniency is NOT how the Bible tells us to raise and train up children, and I know the world will not be good to kids who are brought up that way. In order to create responsible adults, specifically mighty men for the Lord, we have to train them up. We have to teach them about reaping and sowing, about discipline and self control, about repenting/forgiveness, and they must understand there are consequences for every choice and action. Yes, we still must have lots of GRACE (& again, I know there is a balance), but discipline is NOT a bad word. In fact, it literally means “to train.” That’s part of our role and responsibility as parents.

Anyway, if I’m being honest, this was a difficult post to write. I don’t want it to ever seem like I’m saying anything negative about my children because they are such a tremendous BLESSING and I am so grateful beyond words for them. They bring so much joy to my life & I LOVE being their mom!!And I also don’t want to ever make it seem like I have it all together or everything figured out, cuz that’s definitely not the truth either. So even though part of me didn’t want to put this out there, I felt like I should. I know that sometimes, you just need someone to tell you you’re doing a good job, to stay consistent, to be firm but extend grace, and to keep fighting the good fight because this is normal and this too shall pass. I want to be that encourager for some mom reading this today who can relate, even though I’m in the trenches with ya and don’t have it all figured out. So for the mama who is feeling isolated and alone…who is feeling insecure in their parenting…who is feeling a little overwhelmed or frustrated or discouraged…who is looking at their spouse shrugging their shoulders like “How do we even handle this?” KEEP GOING. Specifically, keep going to the feet of Christ.

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There have been a couple of times when I honestly felt like I didn’t know WHAT to do, and I am learning THAT is when the Lord is drawing me to Him. Giving me a dose of humility and reminding me of my need for complete surrender and dependence on Him. After all, these sweet boys are simply on loan to me, but they are HIS. I want to raise them up to love the Lord, their God, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!

I need to remember, even when things are smooth sailing, to give my babies to the Lord, to pray for parenting wisdom,to seek out godly resources, and to continue to go to “the well” to be filled up.

And when things aren’t such smooth sailing, to draw near to the Lord and seek His counsel. To PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. To Seek the wisdom in the Word and remain consistent. I know His promises, and I believe them.

So, that was pretty much a bunch of rambling, but I wanted to get it out. And by the way, since beginning this post a few weeks ago, I really focused on consistency with expectations and discipline and have seen some tremendous progress. That is SO encouraging, so hang in there, Mama!

Also, I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am a big reader and have read several parenting books. Parenting is not the type of thing where you read one book & have it all figured out. For me, I have found that I’m a big mix of everything & several parenting styles! It’s so important not to compare yourself or your children to anyone else’s. You have to find what works for YOUR family, and that will be different for everyone!! Isn’t there such freedom in that? So just because a mama you respect swears by one thing, take it into consideration, pray about it, and try it…but know there isn’t a one size fits all approach to parenting. Even the kiddos within your own home are going to be different and you may have to do things differently with them. Like I said before, All of the reading, mentoring, podcasts…they are important and very helpful tools, but they aren’t THE answer. God is our answer, and we have to continuously seek Him for wisdom.

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God created YOU to be that child’s parent, and He will give you the wisdom to raise that child if you ask,seek, and knock.

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Here are a few of the books popping up in my head that I have read:

If you have any other suggestions, I am ALWAYS open to new reads! Send em my way!

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5 comments:

Linda said...

Hey Danielle! Thank you for this post. As a new mom to a beautiful baby boy you just gave me so much encouragement. I have followed your blog for quite some time, but haven't commented (I think) and just wanted to let you know what a wonderful job you do and that your words are a blessing in my life. I am reading your blog from Norway by the way:) Transatlantic hug from Linda

Emily J said...

Hey there! Great post and I appreciate your honesty!
I have no kiddos yet so I prob shouldn't have much say, but I have listened to Dr. Kevin Leman via podcast and I really like his reality discipline approach. I look forward to reading the many parenting books he has written I've read one of them on marriage (Sheet Music) it was great!
God bless you praying you have a healthy baby and delivery!
Emily

Juliene E said...

Thank you so much for this post! I am in the same boat as you with my almost 3 year old son. I also have a ten month old son as well.
Thank you for your honesty and relatability. I feel the Lord led me to read this post specifically today, because today was a trying day with my 3 year old. Love your blog and all you stand for. Praying for a healthy delivery for you and baby.

Cindy Murphy said...

Oh my goodness, this post is perfect. I have struggled with perfectionism and with living up to other people's standards for my whole life and since my husband and I adopted our daughter a month ago, it has been such a struggle! I've been feeling like we went through so much to adopt her, that if we aren't absolutely perfect parents then we're failing her some way, and that is something I really need to let go. A reminder to keep praying and going to God with everything is never a bad thing to hear either.
And, as always, I love the book suggestions. :)

kristen davis said...

Loving the little years.
Don't make me count to 3.

I read and re-read them all of the time!!

Enjoyed your post.. your family is precious, and I'm sure you are doing a great job!