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The ugly truth

Recently, I came face-to-face with an unsettling fact about myself–I’m proud of my kids. I’m talking “My kids are better than your kids” kind of proud. I’ve always been a pretty competitive person, but I’ve never actually been better at something than others. But my kids…they’re smarter than their peers, they’re cuter than all the other babies, and frankly, have better personalities and are more well behaved. Ugly, right?! But I’m discovering that my kids don’t do everything better than the other kids around them. And I don’t like it…not even a little bit!

What brought me to this revelation was our untold frustrations with potty training. We started potty training Journey early by some standards–a fact that I have been very proud of. But it has been anything but easy. When I tried to commiserate with a friend whose son is one of Journey’s playmates, I realized I was in this battle alone and it bothered me–a lot! I didn’t like the idea that her son had accomplished something that seemed like such a struggle for mine.

I’ve had this sneaking suspicion, for a while now, that my smug little attitude isn’t as well hidden as I’d like to think. And this just felt like being put in my place (not by my friend, she’s far too sweet to ever do that). But I was most definitely humbled in that moment, and rightly so. Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 NLT).

I still don’t like the idea that my children aren’t always going to be the best at everything. And I’m aware that my pride for them is teetering on the unhealthy side. Yet, I’m unsure how to rein it in. Journey will be starting preschool soon. So I know that I will probably be faced with the reality that he isn’t the best at everything. I guess the best I can do is continue to love and be proud of my children, whether or not they really are smarter, cuter and more fun to be around.

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Christian beliefs, Parenting

 

The thing I hate about being a mom

I love being a mom, much more than I ever thought I would. But there is one thing that I hate. No, it’s not the poopy diapers, although I could do with a few less of those. And it’s not the so-called “terrible twos,” after all that does pass (or so I’ve been told). It’s not even the late-night feedings that feel interminable in those early months. What I hate the most is the constant worry that comes with being responsible for another human life.

I wouldn’t have considered myself a worrier before children. Sure, there were things that nagged at me from time-to-time. But generally, I didn’t worry. But once I had children, I became this person I didn’t recognize. I suppose it’s pretty common for a first-time-mom to worry over every little thing. But I felt frantic. I think what gets me the most is the feeling of being out of control. There are so many things, when it comes to kids, that are completely out of my control.

When Journey was nine-months-old, we discovered that he was losing weight. That was a frightening time for me. I felt so helpless! I was doing my best and, once again, it wasn’t enough. I constantly had to prop myself up and say all the right things: “I trust God with my child”; “God is in control, even when I’m not;” etc. I sort of adopted a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” mentality (1 Samuel 30:6 Amplified).

I’ve grown a lot since those early days. But one thing remains–I still worry, a lot, about my kids. I try to keep it together on the outside. But deep down, I’m biting my nails and wringing my hands at the slightest abnormality. But even though I’m freaking out on the inside, I still keep saying the “right things.” And I remind myself of all the worries of the past and how each issue has resolved itself. When I’m in the middle of a challenge, it feels so overwhelming. But when I step back, I remember the last thing that kept me up at night and how that too felt so overwhelming. Then I also remember how we made it through. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid for you are close beside me…” Psalm 23:4 (NLT).

I doubt the worry will ever truly go away. And I’ll probably still have my secret freak-out moments. But I know that regardless of what I face with my kids, God will always see us through.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Christian beliefs, Faith, Parenting, Worry

 

One of these things is not like the others…

My husband and I are fairly quiet, reserved people. Faith, though she’s still pretty young, seems to be a lot like us. Then there is Journey.

As I often say, “he’s his own special person.” He’s kind of loud and very outgoing–he’ll go around a room full of strangers and say hi to every person. And he has a TON of energy.

I love that he’s different from me. But sometimes I struggle with those differences. He’s much more emotive than I am, which can lead to some frustrating moments–I won’t even mention the breakdowns over the simplest things. But it can also lead to wonderful moments, like when he laughs so heartily it becomes contagious. But sometimes I wish he’d be more like me and relish the quiet moments of life. I can sit quietly with Faith and just enjoy the peace. Journey has never been like that. Even as a newborn, he was loud. We’d bring him into our bed in the early morning, hoping to get a few more minutes of rest. And he would just babble away. So much for peace and quiet.

I remember one Saturday morning when we were all relaxing in our bed. Well, all but Journey. He lay there for about five minutes before he wanted to get up and jump on the bed and sing as loudly as he could. I was ready to get after him for disturbing our peaceful morning, when I felt a caution in my heart–“don’t try to tame him.” Yes, he needs to learn when and where to be silly and loud. But in that moment, I felt like I needed to be careful not to make him feel like who God created him to be was somehow wrong because it didn’t “fit” with our family.

The reality is, we would be one pretty bland family without Journey to liven things up a bit. God clearly knew what he was doing when he placed Journey in our family: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5 NLT). And although he’s different from the rest of us, he very much fits with us.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Christian beliefs, Parenting

 

Remembering who I am

I’m a pretty typical introvert. It’s not that I don’t like or enjoy being around people; I just require time to myself to recharge. I know this about myself. I’ve known this for a while. But when it comes to my children, I seem to forget this aspect of my personality. So I give and give and give some more. Then I wonder why I’m short-tempered and frayed around edges.

I never wanted to be that mom. You know, the one who sacrifices herself on the altar of her children. But sometimes I feel like that’s who I’ve become. My mom was not that mom. And I never felt less cared for or valued because she cared for and valued herself.

Recently, I’ve been doing little things to “reclaim” myself, like finally losing the baby weight and making an effort with my appearance before leaving the house. It’s amazing what you have the energy to do once you start sleeping again. And although those are wonderful, even necessary things, I can’t help feeling that they are superficial. Those things are not going to refill me when I’m empty.

We are often defined by the roles we play. It’s true, I am a wife and a mother. But is that my true identity? Is it what defines me and who I am? Until I know that, I will always get lost in my roles. It’s not about wanting more out of life. I’m fulfilled as a wife and mother–I’m where I’m supposed to be. But I can’t let it be what defines me.

There is only one place I can find my true identity. Who I am has to be rooted in Christ: “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes” (Galatians 3:26-27 NLT).

But I need to be constantly reminded of who I am in Christ, otherwise I’ll get bogged down in the minutiae of my everyday life. For me, spending time reading the Bible and in prayer not only remind me of who I am, they recharge and restore me. But I’m not very good at carving out that time. So I’m going to make it a priority. That may mean that sometimes Faith and Journey will have to play in their room, while I take time to refuel and remember who I am. In the end, my prayer is that as I take time to fill up again, I will fulfill my role as wife and mother with more purpose and focus.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Christian beliefs, Faith, Parenting

 

First-time obedience and other things I don’t do

I’m very big on first-time obedience when it comes to my kids. It’s kind of my thing. “Delayed obedience is disobedience!” (That’s a quote from my dad.)

But if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t exactly practice what I preach. I have a list of things God has told me to do that I still haven’t gotten around to yet–all for various and often well-thought-out reasons. But how is that any different from my children? When I tell Journey to clean up his toys, in his mind, continuing to play with his car is far more important than doing what mommy says. Or if I call Faith to come to me, going in the opposite direction not only seems like a better idea, it’s more fun–especially when mommy chases after her.

So why do I expect things of my kids that I don’t do myself? And why do I get so frustrated when they don’t do it? I wonder if God feels that same frustration with me.

This topic has been a particular source of frustration recently. And I’m beginning to wonder if God is trying to show me something in my children’s obedience–or lack of it, in this case.

I think he’s teaching me about perseverance. Galatians 6:9 says, “So let us not grow tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (NLT). I was reading to Journey earlier today–after a particularly challenging morning–and in his little innocent book on colors, there was this scripture. I knew right then that God was answering my earlier plea for guidance. No, it’ wasn’t “do this and this will happen.” But it was telling me to continue to do what I’m doing with Journey (and Faith)…because I will see a “harvest of blessing” if I don’t give up.

I also believe God is trying to get me out of my own complacency with delayed obedience. When Journey doesn’t obey right away, he misses opportunities–No, we’re not going to the park today, because you didn’t obey mommy. I think it’s the same with God–though he’s much more gracious to me than I am to Journey. It reminds me of the children of Israel. Because of their disobedience, they wandered the wilderness for 40 years and many of them missed the opportunity to see the land God had promised (Numbers 14). I don’t want to miss God’s promises and opportunities anymore. So now I’m going through my “list.”

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Christian beliefs, Faith, Parenting

 

Mirror, mirror…

I’m learning that Journey is my little mirror. No, he can’t show me if my hair is mussed or my makeup needs a touch-up. But he definitely reflects what’s really going on.

Sometimes I’m proud of what I see. Like when I hurt myself and he comes up to me, lays hands on me and says “Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus [mumble, mumble, mumble] … in Jesus name, AMEN!” Or he walks up to his sister and says “I love you so very much!” You can imagine the quiet smile that washes over my face in those moments.

But there are other times that I don’t like what I see. When he looks at me with all seriousness, after I’ve fussed at him, and says “Don’t yell, Mommy!” Ouch! Or when he bangs his hand down, in frustration. Where did he learn that? In those moments, I wish it were simply a matter of a smudge on my face that needs to be wiped.

That’s when the self-doubt starts: I’m failing him! I’m not cut out for this!

But then I’m reminded that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV). This scripture has two points of comfort for me. First, God’s grace is sufficient for me. I’m not enough. On my own, I am failing my children. But in my weakness, God’s strength is perfected. Secondly, His grace is sufficient for Journey. I have to believe that God is covering my shortcomings. I will always do my best with my children. That doesn’t change. But when my best is insufficient, God’s grace is sufficient. I hold on to that. I hold on to the belief that God loves my kids so much more than I do.

My little mirror will not always reflect the best in me. But my prayer is that, in time, it will reflect the best in him and God.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Christian beliefs, Faith, Parenting

 

Welcome to my journey…

Well it looks like I’ve started a blog! This is an unexpected turn of events for me. Afterall, what do I have to say that hasn’t already been said on the subject of parenting? But as I began to reflect on all the things I’ve learned since becoming a parent—nearly three years ago—I wanted to chronicle it…for my children and any others who may be able to learn from my experiences.

So here we are, My Incredible Faith Journey! No, it’s not a terribly creative or original name. But it’s fitting. I have been blessed with two amazing children, Faith and Journey. And their names definitely describe my experience as a mom, so far.

I’m still learning a lot about myself as a parent. But I hope you can come along with me on this journey.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Uncategorized