Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Being a "Good Enough" Parent

My husband and I have had our fair share of struggles.  Particularly in early marriage.  We came from two very different families and are complete (and I mean complete!) opposites.  Besides the normal, newly married trials, we had some pretty major issues to work through.  Thankfully, by God's grace and provision, we started seeing a wonderful Christian counselor about 2 months into our young marriage.

Over the last 4 years we've learned many things through our relationship with our counselor.  God used counseling to save our marriage, give us hope for a future, and help us develop a loving, solid and secure marriage!  Praise the Lord!

When we became pregnant with our first child we had many questions, fears, and "what ifs".  Were we ready for this?  Could our marriage survive with a baby?  Were we going to be good parents?  I will always remember the words our counselor said to us.  "Bad parents create weird, screwed up kids.  Perfect parents create weird, screwed up kids.  But good enough parents create normal, well adjusted kids."  Seriously?!  Just "good enough" parents?  Those words came with some relief.  The pressure of being the perfect mom was lifted.  All I had to do was be good enough.  I could do that.

Fast forward 2.5 years later and we're sitting in his office, with our second child, having that same conversation.  Me not wanting to give up my perfectionism.  Me needing to be the perfect parent.  When he gently reminded me that I only needed to be a good enough parent, I said "But I want to be the perfect mom!"  He looked me straight in the eye and said "Then you're going to screw up your kids."  Tears filled my eyes.  My 2 month old son was snuggled up in the carrier sleeping on my chest.  I just looked down at him and cried.  How could I have gotten back to this place?  How did I let my need for control trump the best interests of my children?  What a lonely, dreaded place to be.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2: 4-5)

Thankfully, God has bestowed upon us all grace and mercy.  Without that I would be lost.  My need and desire for control is just another symptom of my unwillingness to give everything to him.  On our way home I prayed that God would take my control freak heart, break it and make it new.  I'm not going to be able to do it all.  I need to be ok with being in that uncomfortable middle ground where somethings are left undone.  I really don't think I'll look back on these baby years and remember a clean house or folded laundry.  But I do know I'll look back and remember the time I spent with my children, how valuable it was and how I wish I could have that time back.  So please, God, help me to remember that.  Help me to enjoy this time and be the mother you want me to be.  Enable me to let the petty things go and embrace the new life you have called me to...smudgy windows and all.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: The Jesus Storybook Bible

I've been wanting to add a little more structure to our morning routine.  Big Sister has been having a difficult time during breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Throwing food when she doesn't like it or simply when she's done eating.  I think she gets the "clean freak" from me.  She needs her highchair tray completely clear of ANYTHING!

When I read about Lindsay's routine on Passionate Homemaking I was encouraged.  It wasn't out of control complicated.  I especially was intrigued by her morning routine of reading to her kids as they all ate breakfast.  Maybe this would solve some of our mealtime struggles?

I've heard so many good things about The Jesus Storybook Bible, so I finally decided to purchase it and see if Big Sis would enjoy the stories.  I think I have been learning more from this "kids" Bible!

Each story is paraphrased and in the end always points back to Jesus and the great plan that God had in sending his Son to rescue us. It's really incredible.  I've been enjoying it just as much as my daughter.

A couple of things I really love about the book:

  • The illustrations are very bright and colorful.  Perfect for catching a little ones attention.
  • The wording is simple and easy to understand.
  • The stories are relatively short.  We read 1-2 during breakfast.
  • The price is good (under $10 on amazon).
We keep the Bible on a desk in the dining room and she's been pointing to it saying "Bible" at every meal time!  She is really enjoying it and it makes my hurt so full of joy for her to be enthusiastic about God's word! That is my prayer and hope for her, to continue to have a thirst and hunger for the Word.

I would definitely recommend this to any family with children of any age!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Am I running from God?

The last two weeks our pastor has focused on the book of Jonah.  Yes, the book where he gets swallowed by a whale.  But I've come to realize there is so much more to gain from this book of the Bible.

Jonah was asked by God to go to Ninevah, a city full of terrible sin, and prophesy to them.  Instead of obeying God and going to proclaim God's truth to these people, Jonah ran.  He hopped on a boat and kept his fingers crossed that God would just forget about him and that he'd be able to run from his calling.  Ha!  That makes me laugh, because I've definitely had those moments of "maybe God won't know I'm doing this" or "hopefully God will let this one slide".  It's not a very secure place to be.  It inevitably comes with fear and anxiety.  And in the end, God always finds us.

When our pastor posed the question "Have you been running from God?"  I initially thought my answer was no.  I have been spending time in the Word and in prayer.  But when I stopped to think about it, the answer slowly turned to yes.  Although I've been spending more dedicated, scheduled time with God, I am still stumbling in the same areas.  I'm still having the same fights with my husband.  I'm still letting perfectionism rule me.  I have been running, and I've been running hard and fast.  

But why?  I know God loves me and wants the best for me and my family.  Why would I run from that?  It comes down to the fact that I let my pride take over.  I don't want to admit my sin and my desperate need for a Savior.  Remember, I'm a perfectionist, so admitting I'm wrong and that I need help doesn't really fall under my "likes" category.  

I don't want to be seen as I really am and to have my heart be known.  There's too much darkness in there.  Too much grime.  I'm ashamed, embarrassed.  If God sees my sin and how ugly it is, He'll leave me.  I've been running for fear of being known, unloved, and unaccepted.  After all, who could love me just as I am?  This fear also shows itself in my marriage.  If my husband knew my heart as well as I did, he would surely leave me. 

I feel silly writing those feeling down.  It's Christianity 101.  God loves us, he sent his Son to die for us, and he forgives our sing.  He accepts us.  I shouldn't be struggling with something so elementary, I've been a Christian for most of my life!  But instead of being hard on myself for still struggling with this, I'm going to accept God's grace and once again, come to him with my fears, struggles and sins.  I'm asking God to search my heart.  To find every bit that needs refining and reveal it to me, so I can stop running from God and start running to him.  

Friday, July 15, 2011

When you realize your child isn't perfect.

The pain of realizing your child isn't perfect is surprising.  It caught me off guard.


After all, my child is a reflection of me.  My parenting and coping skills.  My discipline.  I'm immediately judged by others on how my child acts. 

When I see my child doing things they shouldn't (hitting another kid, laughing when disciplined) I feel my face grow hot and my anxiety bubble over.  I feel like yelling at everyone looking at me "No!  She's really a good kid!  She's just having a hard time adjusting to her baby brother and this is how she shows it!  I'm a good mom, really!"

God really has a way of sanctifying us through relationships, doesn't he?  When I finally get home, sit down and think about the days events, I quickly realize that I am having a hard time with my child's imperfections because I have such a hard time with mine.  I do my best to hide my flaws.  I try my hardest to be successful.  But, only with God's grace is that ever going to be possible.  Will I ever reach perfection?  No.  Will I ever be okay with that?  That is my prayer and hope.  Because if I'm not okay with my flaws and failures it means that I haven't fully given my life over to Christ.  I am still trying to do it on my own.  Trying to prove my independence and ability to take care of myself. 

Do I want to teach my children that they need God?  Yes!  But, God showed me today that I need to start with myself.  Admit that I need him to accomplish anything.  That I need him to make it through these tough toddler years.  And that I need him to help me worry less about what others think and more about how I can give him glory.

Being a mom is so much more than changing diapers, figuring out meal plans, and keeping the kids alive (although these are important, especially the latter!).  It's about coming to the end of yourself, falling at Christ's feet, and asking him for direction and guidance.  If we don't do that, we are only going to drive ourselves crazy with the expectations the world has put on us.  In the end, I know that God's is going to be the only opinion that matters and I'm grateful for that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

5:30 am

5:30am.  That's about two hours until Big Sister wakes up, depending on the day.  That's two more hours of sleep for me.  Two more hours of my cozy bed, snuggling with Baby Boy.

However, I've been feeling God calling me to something different over the past couple of weeks.  A tugging at my heart/soul to make a change.  I've been harried and frazzled the past month, partly due to a newborn in the family, but also due to the fact that I had no plan of action for my days and weeks.  Critical things were being left undone and untouched and the worry and anxiety started to escalate.  I knew God was leading me in the direction of rising earlier in the morning, but I pushed it away.  I mean, I did just have a baby...shouldn't that be my excuse for getting out of anything I don't want to do?!

Not so much.

I came across this great website Inspired to Action, and was really intrigued.  There is a free e-book, Maximize Your Mornings, that teaches you how to get up early in the morning, spend time in the Word, pray, and plan for your day.  You'll even have time for a workout and shower, she claims!  This sounded all too good to be true.  Could I really get up that early?  Did I really feel I could commit to that at this point in my life?  I talked to Ben about it and decided it was something I should try.  After all, I could just get right back in bed if I wanted to!

Well, I did it.  This morning 5:30am came way too early, but I got up, got my coffee, Bible, notebook, and laptop and started my day.  I won't say it was easy.  I won't say I did all I needed to do for this week.  I won't say I look amazing or have a ton of energy, but I made a step in the right direction.  I know this is what God wants me to do and and I know this is how He is going to shape me into a better mother and wife.  

Although waking up at 5:30am may not be the answer for you, I encourage you to find some stretch of time during your day to spend in prayer and in the Word and then plan for your week.

I'll update you on how these 5:30 wake up calls go in the next couple of weeks!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Work: An Attitude Change

With change comes adjustment.  And adjustment is not something I like.  I am a total perfectionist.  Crossing things off my to-do list makes me giddy.  Seriously.  I love order and need things to be done my way.

So I've had some down days in the last seven weeks because predictability goes out the window with an on-the-verge-of-terrible-twos toddler and a newborn.  I've had to let things go.

But I hate it.  
I don't like it.  
I don't want to.

Then I came across this verse.
Colossians 3:23-34  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ. 

It humbled me big time.  Who am I to question God's call on my life as a mom?  I feel ashamed of the negative thoughts that have circled my brain this week.  Thoughts like "I'm so not cut out to be a mom...especially to a toddler" or "What's the point in even trying to teach her how to do this?  She's not going to listen to me.  It's a waste of my time."  Or feeling jealous of my husband because he gets to do "adult" things like go to meetings and coffee dates with coworkers.  Really?  

I'm encouraged and convicted.  My work as a mom is everything.  I'm praying that God will continue to show me that throughout my days.  

Praying that I will not just let things go, but that I will give them to Him.  Lay them at His feet.  Trust that He has is all under control.  My perfectionism and all.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Six weeks in.

I decided to take a snapshot of how I spent the past two hours.  

Yep...on the deck, reading My Life in France on the Kindle, drinking an iced coffee, and catching up on email...BY MYSELF!  And for other mom's reading this, no it's not a brag post saying "oh my babies are so good and always nap and I have the perfect life."

I just wanted to remember this moment.  I need to remember this moment.  

Because hopefully next week when I'm about to say too many cuss words, or tempted to throw something against the wall, or scream into my pillow, I will remember that the tough days are usually followed by good days and even sometimes a day where you get 2 hours to yourself.  I'll remember that even when I did have those two hours to myself I went inside every 15 minutes to check on the baby.  I'll remember that I was counting down the minutes till daddy got home so we could go on a family walk.  I'll remember that I was so excited to take Big Sis to her first 4th of July Parade.  I'll remember that baby boy started smiling last week and how it makes me want to cry and jump for joy all at the same time.  I'll remember that I love being a mom and that things do get easier.