Monday, September 24, 2012

5 pieces of advice for a mother-to-be

A diaper cake created by my lovely daughters Sophie & Meagan.
Over the weekend, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend and I've been thinking about words of wisdom that I would give to this new momma-to-be. Oh, there are lots of particulars that I remember having to learn. Such as which foods to feed when and such.And I don't remember those particulars anymore (even though my youngest is only 6).But these are some  principles that I gleaned along the way. I'm sure I've only scratched the surface. But here goes:

Peek at your children every night when they are asleep.
Look at that beautiful, sleeping face that you love without smudges, tears, or temper tantrums and fall back in-love with your baby. The harder the day; the more crucial it is to peek at them.

"Are you peeking again?" My husband would say, as he climbed out of bed to join me in my nightly ritual. Soon enough, he was as addicted to peeking as I was.

Hmmmm. It has been awhile since I've peeked at the children. Perhaps it's time to begin again. Or perhaps it's because they often go to bed just before me and are not yet asleep. Our stage has changed which leads us to the next tip:

Embrace the stage
Each stage of mothering has its challenges...and its joys. When they are newborns, they interrupt your sleep. A. Lot.  But they also fall asleep in your arms. They cry but smile only at you. Toddlers challenge your directions but they are fascinated with discoveries. Dandelions become wishing flowers. They are seeing the world for the first time, reminding us adults of fascinating discoveries we've forgotten long ago.

When the interrupted sleep and the seemingly constant challenges to our authority tempts us to wish they were older OR were already potty-trained. Remember, that we are also wishing away the cute hugs and kisses, how easy they are to hold or whatever the treasure of that stage is.

Embrace each stage with its challenges and joys.

Do what works.
Yes, seek wisdom. Read some books, ask some questions of mom peers and older-than-you moms. But in the what works. Which really means: gain confidence in your own motherly insight.

Even the first time they hand a crying baby to you over the very experienced moms in the room because you're the mom and you don't have as much mothering experience. Even then you're the expert because you're the mom of this baby and you love that baby in a way no one else does.

That love goes a long way.

I gleaned this hint of Do What Works just a day  into the new motherhood journey. In the hospital, struggling to nurse my newborn. The night nurse handed me a nursing shield. I didn't want to use it because all of the expert books said that this would confuse the baby and hinder his bonding process.

In the middle of the night, the nurse gently said, "You do what works." I used the shield. The baby & I both calmed down as he nourished his hungry, growing body. Even though I worried about what I was doing. If it was right or wrong. In the end it worked. My baby grew.

And as I grew in my motherly confidence, I realized that what works in your home looks a lot different from the books or how someone explains it to you. So if it is working, don't worry. Embrace it. Be thankful that it's working. Because there are certainly times when nothing works.

And for those times, remember this: 

When all else fails, send them to bed.
My mother in law told me this. So when "do what works" isn't working. Send them to bed. Turns out that this philosophy works well for toddlers, teenagers, and moms, too!.

Many times when I am in the kitchen prepping the next meal and the kids are fussing and I can barely think, then "when all else fails, send them to bed" floats into my mind.

Sometimes this means picking them up and setting them in their cribs. Sometimes it means they will walk to their beds and climb in with little or no fuss. Sometimes they won't go... and well that's another  story. But if they will go I highly recommend this practice.

Some quiet moments on the bed gives a needed break from each other's expectations. We need a place to be quiet, to think, pray, read, or sleep by ourselves without a screen to amuse us. This is a learned skill. And an important one at that because it refreshes the soul.

But do remember that not all things are solved during a 30 minute nap so hear this:

It takes time.
My mother-in-law said this when I was lamenting about how long it was taking to potty-train my first child. She said, "It takes time." In our high pressure culture to do, to see, to conquer. It's hard to slow down and take the time.

But that is what the children need. Time. It takes time to comb the tangles out. It takes time to learn how to use a toilet after years of never having used one.It takes time to walk from here to there.

This is an overarching principle:. It takes time. It takes time for a baby to become an adult. If it was quick and easy, we would be like the animals who send their children off in a year's time. But we don't. We have a much longer learning curve than that.

Our lives are in process. We all need time. Time to be who we are created to be. Parenting takes time. And in this culture where time is almost as precious as money and fame, it is a self-sacrificing place to take the time to walk as slow as a toddler needs.

To take the time to teach and to train instead of fussing at them for things they couldn't possibly know. It takes time to embrace the moment. Time to find what works and to do it. Time to send them to bed and take a break to breathe. Time to peek at them.

Take the time. Because before you know it seven minutes will have gone by and they'll be gone.

  * * *
What would you add?  What are some principles of parenting that you have gleaned? 

Linking with Jen at SDG sisters, click HERE for more inspiration.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On tears

The pages are wrinkled
In that spot

In that spot where
The tears that have fallen
So many times

Were they the tears during the hardest nine months?
Were they the tears for the one we lost?
Were they the tears from the lonely nights?
Tears from the times I'd blown it again?
Were they the tears from the years we ached for children?
Were they  the tears of sadness for my sister, her husband, and daughter
Who lost him to a battle of cancer

Are they for the child who wishes he knew
Where his mother was when he woke up

I opened the book
My eyes saw it again
The wrinkled spot on the page

In that wrinkled spot
It is...written

He hears my cry
He counts my tears
And captures them in a bottle
Mourning may last for the night
But a shout of joy comes in the morning

And so I wait for the morning

With my tears
And the pages
Written by my God

Who will rescue us from here.
One day.
And wipe away those tears
* * *
Linking with Jen and with Emily.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How a Six-Year-Old Can Change your Perspective

Sometimes it is all about perspective. Is it a weed that makes the neighbors disdain your yard or is it a wishing flower? It depends if it's the perspective of a retired neighbor or a six-year old child.

I have loved this current batch of pictures from my six year old. How often do I miss the nuance of light casting shadows of me? Almost all of the time. But he saw this, captured it. A piece of him. A moment in time. He captured my heart because he captured  a piece of himself.

How often do I miss these memories-- these gifts of love --  in the cozy corner of my bedroom? Even though most of the time, I see these flowers in a can as a mere dust collector, the sentimental pack-rat that I am can't throw it away.

Am I taking the time to see the  reminders of the people who love me: my first-born son so creative making duct tape flowers, a flower hair-clip from good friends at a surprise anniversary celebration while we were camping, plastic flowers from a child to a mommy who loves flowers.

My choice? To see a crowded shelf that doesn't get dusted or a shelf full of memories of people who know me and know that I love flowers.

Sometimes I need to look up. My perspective would change by looking up. If it was me, I would never have looked up & taken a picture. I don't like these lights. To me they symbolize the many things that I wish I would change in my house. Ahhh.

But my six-year-old son looks up and takes a picture. And I like it. It looks cool and artsy. Sometimes looking up changes everything.

Perhaps one day I will ride carefree in a red convertible like this!
A six-year-old taking pictures on my camera caused me to look at the everyday things around me and put a new perspective on them.  

What about you? Has anything caused you to look at things differently?
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