Category Archives: Family

Count Your Blessings

My two-year-old daughter was hospitalized with croup last week. It was a terrifying initiation into the world of ER trips. I was left horrified by watching my child fight for her every breath, and exhausted from the trips back and forth to the hospital as she recovered.

However, the experience, as frightening as it was, was also sprinkled with blessings. There were little rays of sunshine that broke through the clouds of fear throughout our hospital stay- plus I learned to look a little more on the bright side of things too.

Count Your Blessings


It started with the PA in the urgent care clinic. She was kind, soft-spoken, and calm as she explained that she would have to call 911. She stayed with us as we waited.

Next was the ambulance ride- the EMTs had a little stuffed bear that they gave to V to hold (and keep for later). It’s hard to tell how scared she was at the time -she couldn’t talk and could barely breathe- but I’m certain that the bear was at least a little bit of a comfort for her.

One pleasant surprise was that we recognized one of the nurses working in the ER. “Hey, I know you!” she cried. We realized we knew her from a community yard sale we had both participated in. Our children had played together all that day. How nice it was to see a familiar face among a whirlwind of medical staff!

We were also incredibly grateful that we got V to the hospital when we did. Another nurse told us that she was only about 20 minutes away from needing a ventilator when we brought her in. “They only breathe like that for so long before they just stop breathing. ” I told him that I felt awful that I didn’t bring her in earlier in the day, but he replied with reassurance: “No,” he said, “You did the right thing. You did what they told you to do. You did the right thing.”

Then there were the workers from the Ronald McDonald house at the hospital- I cannot say enough about what an encouragement these ladies were. From the explanation of available services, to offering to bring V a high chair and a box of toys to play with, they were sure to keep everyone’s spirits up. One older lady representative with a missing tooth came in and told me they were bringing cheer with a gift of characteristic McDonald’s striped socks for V. “Praise God she’s getting better!” she cried, and threw her arms around my neck. I nearly cried because it was just what I needed at the moment.

While we didn’t need to make use of the Ronald McDonald house itself, the charity also provided a lounge on the pediatric unit for families of sick children. They had a kitchen area stocked with convenience meals and a comfortable living room area to rest in. I got to nurse the baby in that room (she wasn’t allowed in V’s room) and the available food right down the hall kept us from having to leave V for any length of time.

hospital3(V testing out the playroom.)

The pediatric unit was beautiful, and the staff was so good with V. They even had a little playroom for children to use when they were feeling up to it. I cannot say enough good things about how kind and compassionate everyone was when caring for her.

The whole thing made me realize how good we have it. V was only hospitalized for two days. Two days! I have friends who have had their babies in the hospital for weeks, even months on end. And beyond that, I have three normally healthy children. How blessed we are that our need for medical help was relatively short-lived.

Finally, there was lots of help and offers of help from our family and friends. It was so nice to know that our other children were being cared for while my husband and I took shifts at the hospital. We couldn’t have done it without the help we had.

I’m not trying to be over-dramatic by recounting the events in such detail. However, I think it’s worth noting how God provided such specific encouragement throughout our hospital stay. I was so incredibly grateful for each little blessing when I was feeling so strung out and worried.

Oh- and our little one is doing SO much better now. You’d never be able to know it happened at all. 🙂

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Our Bout with Croup

“Just monitor her this afternoon,” the doctor told me. “Bring her into urgent care at 5.”

hospital2My 2 year old woke up in the night with a low grade fever, a cough, and congestion. It gradually turned into wheezy, labored breathing throughout the morning. It became progressively worse, with episodes in which she would take a deep breath in, hold it for a moment, then grunt out with the exhale.

This is not normal, I thought. But I had told the doctors her symptoms, and they told me just to watch her. They didn’t seem concerned, so I didn’t want to be an alarmist. I kept considering going to ER, but no. They told me to wait.


So wait I did. I sweat as I watched her slip into restless sleep, then wake up with particularly raspy breaths. I clenched my jaws nervously as I sat there with her, watching a movie to help her rest.

By the time my husband came home, she seemed almost normal. Sick, yes, but her breathing was much better and she was sitting up eating some pretzels. Tim at first didn’t see why I felt she needed to get to the doctor’s office.

But over the next hour, it got worse again. She began to put more and more effort into breathing. I got ready quickly, trying to distract myself from the fear that was mounting inside. We were about to get in the car when she had another episode of not quite being able to catch her breath.

We drove quickly. I could see the cavities on the sides of her neck going concave with the effort of breathing. She still kept it steady, but it was obviously paining her. She began drooling as we got out of the car. We signed into the clinic. She stopped verbally answering us, and resorted to shaking her head yes or no. I stood anxiously in one place, wiling them to call our names. We should have gone to ER. We should have gone to ER. 

I don’t know now what kept me from walking out and driving her to the hospital nearby. I don’t know why I didn’t insist for help. It was just that nobody seemed to think it might be an emergency but me. The receptionists and nurses in the lobby could see her breathing. We had told them why we were there.  They weren’t rushing around in a panic to see her, were they?

Finally, after an agonizingly long 10 minutes, we went back to see a PA. She looked her over and asked us a few short questions.

“Well, there could be a couple different things causing this. But in either case, this is actually a medical emergency. You can’t take her to the hospital by car, because she could just seize up breathing without warning. We need to call 911 now and have you transported.”

I started to cry. Why didn’t I call before? Why didn’t any other medical staff show more concern when I talked to them previously? Why did I sit around all day monitoring her?

We called our parents and made quick arrangements. I got into the ambulance with V and tried to hold it together. I tried to make it very light-hearted. “How neat, V, you get to ride in the big truck with the lights! Just wait, you’ll get to tell J all about this later on.” I felt it was imperative to keep her calm to help with her breathing.

“You can use lights to get us through traffic,” the EMT said to the driver. They were so kind. They asked questions and began giving her a nebulizer treatment. It was surreal, driving fast and hearing the sirens from the inside of the ambulance. The drive from our town to the hospital never felt so long. I kept trying to stay positive for V’s sake.

But I could only fool her so much with my happy talk. It seemed that the stress of the ride made it worse. By the time we reached the hospital her stomach was retracting so much it was going halfway to her back with every breath. She couldn’t speak at all. It was taking every ounce of her strength to keep breathing.

They got her into the ER, and nurses began working on her immediately. Weight, IV, rectal temp, suppository, blood samples, cultures, nasal fluid collection, more nebulizer. The doctor asked to switch her nebulizer from albuterol to epinephrine. They gave her magnesium to relax her muscles. Her heart rate was already over 200, and her respiratory rate was 40+. I was scared of how she would react to all the medications, but she was still fighting for air so I knew she needed it. For once in my life, I fully embraced modern medicine without question.

I sat with her on the bed, holding her and trying to keep her calm.

“She’s going to be okay, mom,” a nurse reassured me. “This is serious, but she’s going to be okay.”

Somewhere in the middle of all this, Tim arrived. He made sure J and baby I were safe at home with my parents. I was so glad to have him there.

As soon as V had her epinephrine, there was a marked improvement. She was able to wheeze out one word answers to us, and she seemed to be struggling a lot less. She had several x-rays done while she finished out an hour-long albuterol treatment. Everybody was starting to calm down and talk and joke a bit.

After about 90 intense minutes in the ER, V was stable.

The results of the bloodwork, cultures, and x-rays came back, it was determined that this was caused by croup. She would be admitted for observation, but probably only overnight.

Things are never quick and easy in the hospital. Everything takes a long time. She finally was admitted to the pediatric ward and finished her last albuterol treatment by about 10 pm. She was absolutely exhausted, and basically passed out during the treatment.

One by one, the nurses left, my dad came with supplies and then left, and my husband went home to be with the other kids and feed I by bottle overnight.

I paced the quiet room by myself for a bit, trying to unwind from the incredible stress that I had been holding in all day. I turned out the light but couldn’t sleep. I remembered her little chest heaving in and out harder than anything I’ve ever seen, and I lost it. I let myself lay there and finally cry it all out. The evening had been a parent’s nightmare come true.

But the nightmare came around to a happy ending. She was stable and in good hands, and I was so incredibly thankful for her monitors. I don’t think I could have possibly thought about sleep without them beeping peacefully away throughout the night. Of course I couldn’t help myself from hovering over the crib and checking on her. I saw her heart rate gradually drop back to a normal level after her last treatment. I heard her breathing- deeply, slowly, quietly, as she soaked up her much needed rest. I think I may have slept for three or four hours total, but it was all I needed.

It will have been about 36 hours since she was admitted once this post is published, and she’s still in the hospital. She needed extra time because her little body had been through a LOT, and she just wasn’t ready to come home yet after only one night. But we’ve seen huge improvements in her appetite, energy, and general well-being, and she’s had no more difficulty breathing, thank God.

This bout with croup was terribly frightening. I want my baby home, but I know she’s where she needs to be right now.

The nurse was right- she’s going to be just fine.

hospital

 

 

 

Hunkering Down

Well, it’s October, folks. Oh wait. It’s halfway through October. How did this happen already?

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I’m back to part time work teaching voice, and picking up extra days subbing while another teacher is away. To be honest, I’m exhausted and emotionally shot from trying to wear too many hats and being away from the kids so much.


My husband just started pursuing his Master Gardener certification while still keeping up with the gazillion and one responsibilities that come with being a junior high/high school teacher. He’s also picking up some of my domestic slack. (I love this guy.)

Between the two of us working so much, we haven’t had a single night with both of us home this week, and that’s hard on all of us.

While all the activities are picking up, the animals are slowing down. The hens have stopped laying for the time being. The goat is still giving milk, but not a ton. We’re thinking about trying to breed her this winter, but as of yet, we have no idea what we’re doing with that.

There are still apples lurking in my basement and kitchen that need to be dried and made into sauce. Leeks in the garden. Cabbage to be preserved. I haven’t touched it at all this week. Maybe this weekend.

The garden was slow this year. I don’t have nearly as many tomatoes, frozen summer squash, or broccoli/cauliflower as we did last year. The grocery bills are mounting, and I’m disappointed about that. But we do have lots of winter squash and potatoes. It’s better than nothing.

I feel like we’re already hunkering down for the cold weather. I want to just slow down when I’m able. I need to take time with the kids and make sure I’m keeping my postpartum sanity.

I can’t possibly keep up with everything right now. I’ve got to remind myself every day to keep at it and keep it positive.

KEEP CALM AND KEEP YOUR CHIN UP Poster

As my mom would say, I’m not complaining- I’m just reporting. 🙂

I prize those quiet few minutes before bed when the house is calm and we have no place to go. The days go by too fast, and there’s never enough hours for everything. We’re already pulling on our sweaters and socks around here, and winter will swiftly follow autumn with its long months of ice and snow and wet. It will all come and go before I know it.

Prepare my heart to face the days, lest I grow weary of it all. Let me bundle up and embrace this season of life.

 

Turning Five

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It’s amazing how a not-quite-five year old can be so very adult and matter of fact about things. He wants to ride his tricycle, but I’m nursing baby I. “Well, mama says she can get my bike helmet after she’s done nursing the baby. That’s fine!”

Later, he races his trike up and down our driveway without help. “Hoooonk!!!” He shouts, then turns to see me typing this post and follows with, “Oh, sorry for disturbing your work, mama.”


So independent, but he still needs so much. He will still burst into tears easily when he’s hungry or tired. He still needs hugs and kisses when he gets hurt. He still wants me to lay with him in bed when I tuck him in at night.

This boy, who made me a mother, is so grown up, and yet still my baby.

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He’s taught me to struggle and to want to be better. Every day I second guess something I say or do with him. Somehow, the right way of raising children- and those obvious solutions to the wrong ways- can be rather elusive. This parenting thing was a lot more straight-forward before I had kids, but he’s working on me a little at a time. 😉

My J has introduced us to a long journey of trial by fire. But maybe it’s also a path of sanctification that we are meant to walk together.

He’s taught me to love fiercely. He’s also made me realize how very vulnerable we are, how transient our lives are.

He humbles me.

Aug 2015 012Happy fifth, my boy. We love you more than the whole wide world, always and forever, no matter what.

Lucky Seven

Last Sunday was seven years since this happened.

timabiwedding2While I don’t really believe in luck, I do wonder how in the world I got it this good sometimes. There’s not many people who say they really meant the vows they said at their wedding, and still mean them now.

We’ve seen some level of “for better, for worse.” You’ve walked down the road of postpartum depression with me. I’ve joined you as you agonized over tough work and life decisions. We’ve worried together over those heavy weights on our minds. But we’ve also enjoyed many peaceful times together. While we’ve never had huge public successes or what most would consider an enviable lifestyle, we’ve had most definitely had a good life.


We’ve seen “for richer, for poorer.” We’ve shared all sorts of living arrangements- some more glamorous than others. We’ve gone from a tiny basement apartment, to a rent-free farmhouse, to a mouse-filled, tin-can trailer, to being (briefly) technically homeless, and finally, to our little “starter” homestead. (They called it a starter, but we have no plans to move any time soon.) We’ve gone from being a two-income family paying off debt at lightning speed to wondering if we were going to have another paycheck. But no matter what our level of physical abundance, we’ve had each other the whole time.

We haven’t had too much of “in sickness and in health” contrast yet. Except that you, my dear, cook for me without complaint whenever I am in the throes of morning sickness and I can’t even open a can of chicken broth. 😉 Thank goodness you’ve been around for that.

Seven years have brought us many life changes- our own home, three children, and some animals along the way. It’s brought us savings and bills, harvests and losses, blessings and pain.

This is the stuff life is made of. Long days of work we’d rather not be doing. Happy days out with the kids. Trucking each other from place to place. Working on our individual studies, writing deadlines, teaching responsibilities, and finally coming together for meals at the dinner table. Playing sword fights in the living room, sledding in the backyard, family walks in the evening. Days that we hardly see each other. Trying to keep up the balls we’re barely juggling. Late night dates out on the porch with the door open so we can hear if the baby wakes up crying.

I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone but you.

familyphoto6(Photo courtesy of Icarus Image)

Falling in Love Again

A newborn can make you see your family with new eyes.

I see the way my son looks at her and strokes her head when she’s crying. He makes that small sideways smile and squint. He gives the tiniest of nods because he knows I’m watching him, and he knows I’m pleased, and he’s proud of himself for caring for her. “I like our new sister,” he says.

J meeting I


I see my eldest daughter’s adoration for the baby. “Hold her!” she cries, arms opened to receive the squishy little bundle. She slathers noisy smooches on her little sister, and clings when it’s time to give her back. She bolts to get a diaper for the baby, and asks to “helpie” at every opportunity.

V holding I

My husband? He choked up when baby I was born. She makes him light up after a difficult day like nothing else. He holds her gently, and gets that smile that makes crinkly wrinkles at the corners of his eyes He talks to her and sings to her. He spends time playing with the older two and carries them in tired little heaps up to bed. And after a full day of caring for his family and healing wife, he still puts his arms around my floppy, soft middle, and kisses my forehead. He gives us so much love.

Meeting II look at sweet baby I, and I remember how very fast it all goes. She’s two weeks old as I write this. Can that be? Didn’t I just have her last night? Were my other children ever this small? She’s not going to grow up too, is she?

The busy daytime hours and exhausting nights gather up into days and weeks and months and years, and the kids are ever growing and ever changing. My husband and I ride the ups and downs together- sometimes easily, sometimes not- but always together. These children have made us very different people than we were five years ago.

Baby I JammiesMy baby carries with her enormous power. Children lavish unsolicited love on her. Adults weep over her. She brings transparency to our faults, and strength for us to try to change them. She gives us perspective and helps us to value the more important things in life. She teaches me to fall in love with my family all over again.

These kids. They don’t necessarily get easier. But they are good, in more ways than I can properly express.

Managing My Mornings with a Newborn

I would love to tell you that having a newborn hasn’t affected my newly-established morning routine. It would be great if I could brag that I’m still up before the kids are up, working on making the earliest hours intentional, refreshing, and efficient. That by the time 7 a.m. rolls around, I’ve already accomplished some tasks and I’m ready to face the world.

But that just wouldn’t be true.

Managing My Mornings with a Newborn


About two months ago, I completed and reviewed Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings e-course. (This post contains affiliate links.) Even though I am normally suspicious of self-improvement gimmicks, I found that Crystal’s transparency and flexibility gave this course a sense of honesty and attainability that many similar courses lack. (You can read my full review here.)

But when I got to the end of my pregnancy, I had to learn to slow down a little bit. Those new routines I created had to be pared down and adjusted. Then I went and had the baby. And now it’s not me who’s making over my mornings anymore- it’s the littlest one in the house who is delegating tasks! (And apparently, she values fresh milk over a clean kitchen any day. 😉 )

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So I’m learning, once again, to step back and accept this phase in life instead of trying to fight it.

One thing I’ve learned, however, is that even though I’m not getting nearly the same amount done as I did before, I can still adjust my routines for this season- even though they will be very different. I can still be intentional about my morning. I can still plan out my priorities for life with a newborn. And I can still work to take care of my family and my personal health- even though those things look different now too.

For example, Crystal says that the tone for your morning is set the night before. My current evening routine doesn’t focus so much on cleaning up as it does getting the kids and myself down at a reasonable hour. This helps us to get a better rest, have a little more energy, and consequently be in a more stable emotional state for the next day. (Something postpartum moms can definitely use a little more of.)

My morning routine? I am not waking up early unless my kids necessitate it. The priority that rules my mornings now is focusing on the babymoon. That means I get up later, spend time snuggling with my littlest one, and have a slow breakfast talking with the older kids. I’m making a point of putting my smart phone down. My new summer pastime is sitting out on the porch while I nurse baby I and watch the older kids play.

V on porch

My daily to-do list that I write in the mornings? It’s very minimal. I have one or two simple tasks that I want to accomplish, and I try to do them in a way that promote rest and healing for my body. (I.e., sitting down to fold laundry or prep fruit for the canner, etc.) The rest of my to-dos are simply to spend time with my children, nurse the baby, and take a nap or shower as needed.

This season in life isn’t about getting things done efficiently. It’s about adjusting to life as a family of five and getting to know my newborn. It’s about allowing my body to heal and taking care of my emotional health. It’s about falling in love with my family again. These are “the big rocks” that need to go into my jar first right now- my highest priorities for each day that should happen before anything else.

How do I manage my mornings with a newborn? At the pace of molasses.

I’m working on accepting the slowness of these early weeks. I’m trying not to stress when I don’t get enough sleep. As my children require me to give more of myself to them, I’m trying to let go of all the other things that I think I would like to get done. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not superwoman.

Soak it in, I tell myself. My productivity is not nearly so important as remembering and cherishing our days with these little ones.

Maybe you’re like me and you’re in a phase with a sleepless newborn too. Don’t force yourself to get efficient too soon- enjoy this freshness, this newness of life. Savor their tiny fingers and toes. Smell their hair and feel how soft their skin is. Listen to how tiny their cry is. These are your to-do’s right now. This is all you need to manage for the time being.

Babies are only this small once, and their grown-up days will come all too soon. The tasks will be waiting for you later.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

-from Babies Don’t Keep, by Ruth Hamilton

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(If you are interested in finding out more about Crystal’s e-course, it is a great deal for you new mamas who want to “save the course for later,” so to speak, or for women who aren’t in the newborn phase right now. I know I’m planning on reviewing it again as I get back into the swing of things!)

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks in advance for supporting my efforts with this little blog!

 

Look Who’s Here!

I wanted to write a brief post to announce the arrival of our sweet surprise baby girl!

Meeting Baby IThe little miss was born safely at home last Thursday, August 13th, at 9:28 p.m. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 10 oz (the smallest of my three babies), and was 20.5″ long.

I will write her whole birth story out in the next few weeks. But here’s the short version: I had about 9 hours of putzy, slow labor that never really kicked in. We followed by artificially breaking my water, and finished up with a quick, intense 28 minutes until she was born. While the labor was challenging for me emotionally, it was the easiest on me physically out of my three births.


Baby girl #3We are happy to have our beautiful baby “I” with us at last, after these 41 weeks of pregnancy. The kids have welcomed her with open arms and lots of love. She is a reminder of peace and contentment to us as we adjust to our family of five.

J and I V and IWelcome, sweet little one. We are so glad you joined us!

You should know that I do have some posts pre-scheduled to go up on the blog- so I’ll still be around, though the posts may slow down a bit and I may be a bit delayed in my responses to reader comments. Stick with us while we spend some time enjoying our babymoon! We’ll be back in business soon. 🙂

 

 

Size: Newborn

I unpacked the baby clothes last week.

They had been sitting in the basement for two years now, lying in wait for when we had another. Here I am, three weeks out from my due date as a third time mama, trying to remember what babies need, unfolding these clothes piece by piece. I’ve been marveling at the smallness.

Size Newborn


I found out back in December. I was home alone and I couldn’t remember when my last period was, so I took a test on a whim. Two lines. Crap, I mouthed. I started pacing around the kitchen, muttering I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant. Again. We had been not trying/not preventing, and waiting for it to happen, but not expecting it so soon because of my history.

I wanted this baby. We planned on having another. We hoped to have another. It just took me by surprise. When Tim was coming home, I made him a cup of tea in a chalkboard mug with the message, “Merry Christmas, Baby!” scrawled across it. I gave it to him with a card, the pregnancy test, and shaky hands. He knew by the look on my face before he even glanced at my presentation.

“Three!” He said. “That’s great!” He told me it was a good time for it, and that we had wanted three, and that we should celebrate and order Chinese. We had a peaceful, cheerful night. The initial shock was over, and now I could settle into accepting this pregnancy.

But I don’t always handle my fear and stress well, and pregnancy hormones don’t make it any easier. I’ve been apprehensive again- scared of my ability to mother three children, scared of how my kids will adjust, scared of my new daily routine… Doubtful of whether or not I’ll be able to hold it together.

Take courage, I’d tell myself. Many, many women have had more than three children for many, many years before you were here fretting over your third pregnancy. If they can do it, so can you.

“We can’t let ourselves be overcome,” Tim reminded me. “You can’t dwell on the negative.” Thank heavens for this guy. He keeps assuring me that I’m doing fine. He tells me I’m more frightened than I need to be, and that we’ll make it, and that we will find a new normal.

As I neared full-term, I saw friends’ photos on Facebook displaying perfectly coordinated nurseries, diapers stacked neatly on the changing table, monograms hung above the crib, gorgeous little outfits laid out with care, smiling big brothers rubbing mama’s belly….

Us? I hadn’t pulled out the cradle, or ordered my birth kit, or looked for clothes, or put my midwife’s number in my phone. We still don’t even have names picked out for this kid. Maybe if I close my eyes and ears to the baby’s impending arrival, then I can delay it til I feel more ready. Right?

But I know that’s not true. So I pulled out the newborn clothes. I held them up- every single piece- to see the designs, the colors, the size.

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The size! How tiny. Babies don’t really come that small, do they?

Warm memories flooded me. The pushing, the agony, the wishing I could give up and let someone else take a turn. The first sight of tiny wrinkled hands and squishy cheeks. The rolls and the vernix and that little tell-tale wail that gives me permission to breathe. Inhaling that newborn smell. The rooting for the breast, the first latch, the first diaper. Living on the couch for a few weeks, nursing, sleeping, changing, nursing. Floating through the sunny hours in an exhausted, sometimes tearful, sometimes blissful fog.

I caught myself smiling. This baby is coming, whether you’re ready for it or not. Why not prepare your heart to welcome him or her? 

I cannot raise a child on my own, much less three of them. I will fail, sometimes drastically. There will be times I will think that I never should have started on the journey at all.

But I will climb this mountain called motherhood with sweat and tears- and one day, I’ll reach the top and be able to see the vista. I’ll see the steep spots I thought I would never be able to hike and the valleys that seemed impossibly endless. But I’ll also be able to look back and see the beauty of it.

Newborn clothes. They make you think.

You are coming, little one, whether I’m ready or not. And I will love you, always, and we will not lose heart. Our family will grow, and we will be sustained. His grace is sufficient.

 

Letting Go of Perfect Children

J, please sit. Don’t touch the beetle. C’mon, stop jumping in the puddle. Can you quiet down a little? You’re so loud! PLEASE sit. Ahh! Take your hands out of the water- it’s yucky! Stop chewing on your shirt. SIT DOWN! Ugh! Okay, let’s get up to the house- you’re obviously not listening.

Well, would you want to listen to someone who talked to you like that all the time?

Letting Go of Perfect Children


For some reason, I’ve got this control freak inside of me who likes to keep things orderly. Maybe it’s to make up for my own sore lack of organization. Maybe if I keep my children clean and well-behaved all the time, then my own messy house and chronic lateness won’t bother me so much. If I just push them to be perfect, then I can relieve some of my own stress and carry on with my day. Right?

Well, that’s not a good approach.

I’m all for having children obey their parents. I’m all for promoting order in the household, too. But sometimes, I think we forget the other half of the story- that parents are not to exasperate their children. (Colossians 3:20-21.)

It’s good to expect your kids to listen to their parents. But when a parent’s requests become so oppressive and unreasonable, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the children to listen well.

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Sometimes I set up a standard that seems impossibly irritating when I look at it from the outside. Yes, I want my children to love the outdoors and music and the arts and to embrace learning and have little free, uninhibited spirits. But please, don’t let them get dirty while they’re outside. And the volume on the digital piano is up WAY too loud. And no, we can’t paint now because it’s too messy and it’s a big pain to clean up. And that’s too many books to fit in our library bag! And on and on and on…

When I’m not letting my kids just be kids, I AM exasperating them. We butt heads more and more. We get into a crazy cycle. I ask them to behave like adults in cubicles and then feel driven up the wall when they don’t comply. They, in turn, act out more and more until their lack of obedience is intolerable. Then we’re ALL big cranky pants who need a time out.

Bad news.

Does this mean I just let them do whatever they want, whenever they want? No. They still need to listen to their parents. They still need a nap, a bedtime, balanced meals, and a relatively reasonable order of things. They still shouldn’t hit and kick and scream at one another.

But mama needs to uphold her end of the deal too. I need to love them, show patience with them, and let go of the image of perfectly still, well-groomed children who play quietly on their own. (And think about it- how awful and boring would that be if that’s the way they were?!?)

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I need to let them be kids.

Today, in this moment, I am going to try to stop the cycle in its tracks and start out on a better foot.

Today, I will let my kids explore.

Today, I will not get mad if they get messy.

muddykids

Today, I will let them eat every last one of the berries we pick without complaining that there are none left for preservation.

berryfaces

Today, I will let them read longer, play harder, sing louder.

Today, I will not poo-poo their ideas and their ways of figuring things out.

June 2015 (& Porch 2) 063

Today, I will try to hold my tongue and be merciful to them. I will try to erase the image of perfection that I have created. I will try to stop commanding things of them that don’t really matter.

Today, I will let my kids be the creative, energetic, happy children that they are. I will look for the good in what they are doing. I will relinquish control, instead of trying to micro-manage their every move.

Today, I’m letting go of perfect children, and embracing the ones I have.

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