I've always wanted to write, and I've heard that you write about what you know. And now, what I know is how to homeschool my kids and to live healthier-ish. But then I also heard that you should write to an audience. I thought well, Moms! Because who else would my audience be, really?
And then I read other blogs by other Moms or talk to other Moms and I feel like I can't relate... at all... and I think, "I'm not normal". And then I wonder, could I write and connect to other moms?
I have invested all of my motherhood in not having needy children. As babies my socialization goals was for them to be comfortable with anyone and away from my presence. I had the babies everyone else loved to babysit. They never cried to see me go, and they were always happy when I came back.
So when a child is crying at the church nursery and mom is like, "I don't know, what should I do?" I'm honestly speechless.
I didn't breastfeed for long, I let them cry through the night to extend their sleep cycles so I didn't get up during the night after they were 4 months old. They never got anything from me by crying after they were old enough to recognize my face - even at 6 months old I waited until they soothed themselves to give them what they were crying about (as it relates to food and diapers I tried to anticipate their needs so they didn't have to get to a crying point to begin with, though). Honestly, when a baby is crying and I see a mom rushing to soothe him my first instinct is to think, "Why would she do that?" The only reason I comfort a crying child is if I know he is in physical pain or discomfort.
I've also taught my kids to be as self sufficient as possible. I don't care if my kids have their underwear inside-out and their socks don't match. I stopped dressing them as soon as they could put it on themselves. They eat all of whatever I put on their plate because I would reheat the same meal until it was finished or let them skip the meal. My plate is as much my personal space as my privates - my kids are not allowed to touch my food and they've never shared off my plate. And my kids always go to sleep on their own bed - they have NEVER spent a night between my husband and me. My parenting catch-phrase is, "this isn't a democracy. It's a benevolent monarchy that belongs to me!"
So here is a common scenario: I'm at McD's with my kids. I see a mom come in with two young kiddos. I hear the kids fussing the whole way to the table. I see the mom get the food and serve them. I hear the kids demand ketchup. I see mom go get ketchup. I see the kids spills the drinks. I see mom get napkins and clean up. I see kids leave their food and demand to go play. I see mom pick everything up and head to a play area. I never once saw Mom take a bite of her food.
Well no wonder parenting is not viewed as enjoyable. I don't feel compassion for her. The overall picture is that you survive 10 years of childhood for tiny glimpses of hope where the child isn't acting like an animal and maybe then you'll see the reward. You'll spend years without sleep, without eating a meal of your own, you'll sacrifice your sex life with your husband, you'll never have the time to do your nails or your hair or take an uninterrupted shower and you'll never hear a thank you. The only satisfaction you'll get is the smile on your little angel's face.
Call me selfish, but my mental and physical well-being is priority. I need to function in order for my household to function. There will be nights of staying up because of illness. There will be moments where your child genuinely needs your comfort. There will be days when you barely have a chance to eat because you are at a hospital or some other situation with your child. But I would not make this lifestyle your habit. I'm not even going to get into what consequences living like this - regularly - can have for your marriage.
Go back to the McD's scenario with my household. I'm already walking in with tensions high because I'm nervous or running late. The only reason I would stop at McDs is if I know we won't be home for close to 8 hours. I send my kids to get napkins, ketchup, and silverware while I order the food. They may get happy meals. They may not. They may have a choice. They may not. It all depends on our household budget. They know that if it is in my power to do so, I will give them anything they want - but if I can't, I will definitely give them what they need. I bring the food to the table, and we enjoy conversations - about Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, and whatever else comes up. They will ask me if they can play in the gym and I will check my time. I tell them that if they finish and clean up within the time we have they may have 15 minutes. It is probable that Caleb will spill the chocolate milk - at which time he will say, "I'm sorry!" and Anakin and Brielle will rush to get napkins and Caleb will help clean it up. They will clean up, go play in the gym, and when I say, "We gotta go!" they will get their shoes on and we'll be on our way. And the employees at McDs usually comment on how good my kids are. But my point is that I'm very strict on some rules and work on them consistently to prepare for a time like this.
Am I saying that my children are perfect? They're not even good. And I can laugh about it. As a matter of fact, all behavioral issues that come up in our household usually have to do with whether I'm with them and engaged or not. They smell weakness in other adults and test everyone's limits with everything they know they cannot get away with at home. Only one public school teacher put a stop to Anakin's nonsense, and she was an old, crazy cat lady that couldn't be moved by any kid.
I have struggled with inappropriate behavior, embarrassing moments, and difficult childhood stages. Every caring mom will. But through it all I'm reminded of 2 key points I learned from other godlier women who came before me: 1) The point of godly parenting is to raise God-seeking adults, not have children that make me look good. 2) The point of parenting is not to be the cruise director of my children's childhood, as if I was put here to entertain them. Even I understand, as a mature-ish Christian, that God seeks to build my character more than my comfort. How much more, as the sole agent of God for my children until they mature enough in a relationship with Him, do I need to prioritize building their character! And teaching them manners! And helping them be successful members of society, children that know proper etiquette and how to show respect, that ask for help politely...
And if you are still reading this far, and your mouth is hanging open, I want you to know what a joy it is to be a mom for me. Even more so that I've quit my full-time job, and have been home with them for a year. What a joy that I taught Brielle how to read. What a joy that Caleb will sit for vaccines, cry his poor little eyes out, and he will not struggle or move his arm. What a joy that on my sick day I can ask Anakin to grab a stool, wash his hands, and make sandwiches for his siblings. Even their less than ideal behaviors and comments, moments where I cry and pray, remind me about grace and mercy. And about how none of us are perfect. And that correcting our behaviors, when less than ideal, are a process of time and consistency, right? So it's a joy to wake up each new day and try again.
I'm pretty sure that after all my political rants, my off-colored not-so-popular opinions, and my annoyingly traditional biblical views I probably only have, like, 3 readers. So if I do write a book it will be entirely by faith. I started homeschooling entirely by faith. No woman in my family has ever been a stay-at-home mom, let alone a homeschooling mom. I graduated through the public school system. I've also never had anyone in my family work out regularly or lose 27 lbs or so or change their eating habits so drastically and permanently as I did. Nothing I have blogged about has been something I learned by observing. This year has been a brand new adventure led entirely by what God has told me in times of worship and prayer. If writing a book is a task I am to accomplish it'll be because God told me so too.
My hope is not to have moms read this and feel horrible or inadequate, but so that they would be less fearful... burnt out... I want moms to realize that they are not slaves to their children and their God-given role is so much more than unpaid servant-hood. This mom thing is really hard! I wouldn't even dare give advice because each child is so different that what works with my kids may be disastrous for you. But if any mom out there can see the grace that God bestowed on me, the humor at the end of the night, and how brilliant my kids are in spite of my imperfections - then maybe they can be encouraged... perhaps even emboldened. They say the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Let's start living this mommy-hood life like we're ruling the world instead of being ruled by the little people in our home!