- I never counted to 10 to calm down enough so I wouldn't yell at my kids (more than likely, I would have counted to 10 and still yelled at them).
- I never made baby food from scratch (unless you count mashing bananas).
- I never fed my littles organic food or bought organic lotions that didn't exist yet. They are toxified teens.
- I never did stroller lunges in order to stay in shape. Let's face it, if I'm pushing a stroller, shouldn't that be considered exercise?
Had I access back then to all the blogs out there talking about "how to be a good mom", "10 tricks to get your kids to listen," or advising me on" how to raise kids without raising my voice," maybe I'd be in the good mom category.
I'm pretty sure I did this mothering thing all wrong. I had a messy house, I was exhausted, and getting a shower in before noon was considered a luxury. By 5pm my nice mommy persona turned into exhausted, cranky, and "don't make me tell you again" mommy.
My kids are teens and tweens now. When I look back at those sleepless toddler years (sleepless meaning me), I'm actually glad mommy blogs with all their 10 ways to be a great mom and look fabulous blog posts didn't exist. We are inundated with opinions and advice on the blogosphere. A mama can read, contemplate, and walk away from a post only to confirm her worst fear, that she might in fact be ruining her children. You can read so many of these types of post and then suffer from the "I should be doing this" or "I want to implement that," or "I ought to ..." you fill in the blank.
I'm pretty sure I've been doing this mothering thing all wrong because when I started 16 years ago, we didn't have all these blog post to tell me what to do or what to say or not to say, what to cook, or how to prepare my toddler for college. There were no top 10 lists on creative parenting. I learned to be a mom like many of you- the experimental first child. There were mistakes, and there were big mistakes, but instead of the latest blog post, I looked up.
Literally, I would stay up at night, staring at the ceiling of my bedroom after my littles were fast asleep in their beds, silently pouring out my heart and crying to the Lord because we had another terrible day, or I should say, I had a terrible day. It was always after a day when my frustrations turned to anger, anger turned to yelling, and yelling produced broken hearts and teary-eyed chubby faces looking at me in confusion. Yup, complete failure here.
My husband held me in those times and told me I was doing a good job, a great job in fact. He'd remind me of the joyful moments in mothering- singing to my kids, praying with them, and having dance parties. But my heart kept looking at the "ugly mama" moments. I wanted to see ugly mama leave for good.
It was in those moments, in that dark room, when I was the only one awake, that the Lord met me, a crying, failing mom of three amazing toddlers. It was His grace that surrounded me, not a blog post; and it was His love that re-assured me, not the next top 10 list.
I know you see the irony in this. I'm a blogger writing about why we should stop paying so much attention to some blog post. Most are fine and they give great tips for parenting, but nothing replaces the counsel of God's word. And that's all I can give you here. It's what works.
So this is just a portion of what I'll be sharing over time about what I learned during my season of toddlercon. This is for any of you who have littles now and want to find encouragement from a mama with teens- who I actually believe I have not ruined. There is hope for the crazy, exhausted toddler years. There's hope for the tween and teen years too, but that's another post.
Those times when I completely failed- I prayed at night for myself, for my kids, and for our relationship. Like Hannah, I prayed to have these babies and I dedicated them to the Lord again and again in those midnight prayers. I prayed they would be covered in His grace and love, and receive my request for forgiveness. That's right; I asked my little ones to forgive me. We confess and ask for forgiveness even if the person is under 3 feet tall.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Eph.4:32
I remember one awful morning when I was getting all of us ready for an early meeting...at church (gulp). There was no lack of frustrations or "no's!" this particular morning. My oldest was about 4, little sister was 2 and our son was a crawler. My arms were full and mama "had it" on this particular morning. My oldest took the brunt. I don't know what set it off or what I said that morning, but the attitude of my heart was completely sour. As we're driving to church, the kids remained silent, probably from fear of waking the beast that took over mama. Then, the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit convicted me. I was wrong in treating my kids this way. No excuses. No trying to justify it, just wrong. I needed to confess my wrong to them just as the word says in James 5:16.
When we arrived, I opened the cargo door of the van to get the kids out and my oldest was already standing there- out of her car seat, no doubt wanting to help me save time in some way. I stood there, put my arms around her little waist, and said, "Mommy is so sorry. Will you forgive me?" Tears started flowing from her eyes and she threw her arms around my neck and clung to me. We cried together and I just kept saying,"I'm sorry, I love you so much." She immediately forgave me. "It's ok, mama." Little hearts are so incredible that way. It's a lesson for all of us I think. Be quick to forgive.
We worry about so many things as moms. Will they learn their abc's, when will they learn to read, will they ever figure out that two plaid patterns don't ever match. They will. They'll get it and eventually, littles grow into bigs, and then you get to start a whole new season of prayer- this time on your knees.
I started this blog three years ago in an effort to share my DIY adventures with you, but what I've found through the years is that as women, moms, wives- we have a unique adventure. I love sharing my home with you, sharing my heart and failures isn't so easy, but I think it's needed. We need to hear home life is tough sometimes, but we are to be strong and courageous in it. We need to be reminded that kids will scream, dinners will burn, and we may forgot to put on deodorant occasionally, but God's mercies are new every single morning.
I'm pretty sure I'm still doing this mothering thing all wrong, but ugly mama has been tamed through mornings spent in God's word first and lots of late night prayers. Top 10 blog post come in a distant second place. For Lewisville, dance parties still happen on the spur of a moment, the singing has been taken up by my girls, and there is no lack of rooting for the Broncos or dressing up and celebrating "talk like a pirate day" or "Pi" (3.1415...) = Pie (as in chocolate) day. It's a new season in mothering and one I'll be sharing about more often- in between the cleaning, organizing and DIY post.
Until then, look up... to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (and all the mothering that comes with it!)