a frank assessment.

i believe motherhood to be one of the most important roles i will ever have. i believe my children are blessings, treasures, and have given to me at this specific time, for a specific purpose, both theirs and mine. i believe that being available to my kids, and working hard at developing a strong attachment-oriented relationship with them is of high value. i believe it is my job and privilege to teach them the things they need to know to navigate life and know how to turn to Jesus. i believe my little ones have been and will be God’s greatest tool of growth and sanctification in my life.

in light of these grand statements, i think a frank assessment of where i find myself and my little ones in the past weeks (months? years?) would pull back the curtain, so to speak, on the thought that strong convictions will make mothering an easier venture.  perhaps i was alone in my views, but when i had a little one toddling around, pregnant with my second, i spent a large amount of time reading books and daydreaming about the kind of life i would build for our family — but very little time thinking about the discipline, work, and self-sacrifice that kind of life would require, or learning how to grow in the things i would need later.  i wish i would’ve known that i needed to both dream and prepare.

so, the honest truth, for my family with an almost-six-year-old, a three-year-old, and a one-and-a-half-year-old:

  • i am overwhelmed by the daily needs of my kids — will everyone ever have their hair washed, nails cut, clean clothes on, and tummy full, at the same time?
  • i am peopled-out at the end of each day. as an introvert, this makes it difficult to ever feel “ready” for the day to begin, or to continue giving.
  • the volume level and constant chatter of three kids is more draining than I expected.
  • getting all of them to sit still or participate in a craft, devotion, or story together is hard work, precipitated by many instructions and interrupted constantly by the need for reprimands or more instructions. it can often be more exhausting than rewarding, but i believe the actual rewards of times like these aren’t found in how i feel at the end of them.
  • It is extremely difficult to resist the temptation to put the kids in front of the TV or media too often — it occupies them in a way nothing else does, and the desire to not be needed for a while makes it difficult to make wise choices. not impossible, but difficult.
  • having the self-control to sleep when i need it, rather than be online, watch movies, or read books, is not easy to come by. sacrificing “me time” for rest that will make me a more energetic and patient person is a hard choice.
  • finding joy in the mundane and every day is, again, very difficult. (i’m sensing a theme here!)

when jones was almost two, i decided i wanted to begin having devotions with him. do you know how many times we did them together? ONCE. yep. ONE TIME. during that one time, i got out the “Jesus Storybook Bible” and expected that jones would sit when i told him to sit, listen because the story was interesting, and enjoy what we were about to do. i thought it would be fulfilling for both of us. in reality, he had little interest in the story and fidgeted and fussed like any two-year-old boy would if he were made to sit still when he’d rather be playing.

i ended the time with frustration, sadness, and despair.  part of this was my lack of understanding of children. another part was my belief that teaching my children about God would be a effortless, natural thing, and wouldn’t require discipline, hard work, perseverance, like anything else.

 

in my naivety, i gave up on having devotions with jones until he seemed interested or could sit still, not thinking that both were things i would have to teach him to do. consequently, we didn’t read the Bible together regularly for a loooooooong time.

this story came to mind today, because it was a time i clearly remember feeling lost and bewildered as a parent.  i was convinced that teaching jones about Jesus would be one of the most important things i would do with my life, and still am.  since he wasn’t interested in the least, and i wasn’t prepared for the effort it would require, i gave up easily.

a more current example of this would be my desire to read aloud to my kids daily, with the goal of giving them a love for books and captivating them with story. the reality? getting three kids to agree on the same books, stopping the youngest from using us all as a climbing gym, or dealing with them fighting each other over who gets to sit where and who gets to turn the pages and whose book we read next is (surprise, surprise!) HARD WORK. i’ve tried reading to them separately, but i don’t want to spend all my free time reading kid books, or having to interrupt something with one child in order to mediate a fight between the other two.

i don’t know where i’m going with all this, except to say that my ideals have taken a serious blow from reality lately — i want them to survive, and i’m praying God can help me discipline myself to make them happen, and give myself grace when they don’t.

—————–

anyone have specific areas/issues they’d like to hear about from my current position with three small kiddos? wanting to offer what i can…

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4 thoughts on “a frank assessment.

  1. your honesty is refreshing–and helpful. virtually anything/everything worth doing is hard work and rewards/fruit are rarely immediate! keep on keeping on by the grace of God, dear girl.

  2. This line struck me the most (even though all of it was great :)): ” the actual rewards of times like these aren’t found in how I feel at the end of them.” This is true of so much of parenting; yes, there are joys in the daily life, certainly ( if there aren’t ANY, then you aren’t looking hard enough for them), but there are lots more this-will-be-worth-it-in-the-long-run-sometime-somehow moments, that add up over “a long obedience in the same direction”, to use a Eugene Peterson phrase. True not only of parenting, but of the Christian life, and most all worthwhile endeavors.

  3. The same line that struck Kerri was the one that struck me as well. And “a long obedience in the same direction” is something I repeat to myself OFTEN. I even have it on a post-it on the wall. While I am not parenting my own children, I am working (for a large chunk) of that endeavor with other people’s children and I feel the frustration/guilt/desire to do more/create memoriesssss. One thing that comforts me is thinking back on my own childhood and the memories of my mother in particular that stick with me, and my view of them as a teenager, college student, and working adult/nanny. I have fond memories of unlimited Saturday morning cartoons, my mom doing creative crafts and activities about Holy Week with us, and how she also took painting classes–which equaled out to some kickass dioramas for our school projects in later years, that’s for sure. All that to say, having perspective on my mom as a person, wife, and mother has made me feel better about what I do model for the kids I work with and worry less about daily life being, well, daily life in addition to the deeply enriching spiritual/mental/physical moments that get sprinkled in, sometimes on purpose or on accident 🙂

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