This morning I enjoyed cuddling a sweet little newborn as I chatted with his momma. I observe his cute little button nose and tiny little body that rests perfectly in my own petite arms. At some point she mentions how much he's grown in his short two weeks of life. How time already seems to be going too fast. Of course I can relate as my own "little" guy runs all around her living room unable to keep his voice down.
Then, later this afternoon, I pick my two-year-old up from his slumber so we can get his sister from school. He raises his arms, pulls his chin into his neck and scrunches up his face the way he used to as a much smaller infant. His over-sized newborn lips have already grown ten times in size, his large head miraculously growing even larger, and his long lashes... Seriously, is it even fair for a boy to be so blessed with such flowing eye lashes?
In a second, I take in all these pieces as memories of my "tiny" newborn come to mind. His large head nuzzles into my small shoulder, and my heart cries as I hold him close, "Don't you dare grow any more! Don't even think about becoming a six-foot tall man that can't rest his head on my shoulder when I pick him up. You've grown too much already. This is enough."
And then it makes sense.
All those times moms would say, "Enjoy this. It goes too fast!" All those times they'd look on and see and think about their own once-teeny-babes who are now probably six-feet tall men who never call home.
But, in all honesty, I wanted to punch them in the neck as I wondered what exactly it was they wanted me to "enjoy" in this moment. Is it the tantrums? Or the incessant "mommying" or his hitting and biting issues? Is it her excessive boredom and how I'm not enough for her? Is it waking up every three hours for the first TWELVE months of his life and feeling completely and utterly exhausted? Because in the moment, those are the things that consumed my mommy experience.
They'd say these things and couldn't possibly understand how their words destroyed me. And I just wanted to respond, "I'm sure you miss this time. But please remember it's not as great in the moment as you're remembering it." Because their attempt at encouragement to "enjoy," was my guilt for not always being able to. For not always loving the potty training and the mess and the stress and sleeplessness that comes with these imperfect, and altogether precious beings.
And this is just the beginning of mommy evolution--how moms evolve from chaos to amnesia where everything in their own chaotic past is now simply bliss.
There's also another side. Because they're not the only ones I've wanted to punch in the neck. I've also wanted to punch previous me (and others like her) in the neck, too. The me who thought that a hitting/head-butting child was simply a product of bad parenting. The me who judged parents who gave in. The me who thought she knew it all before even having kids.
Just like moms evolve from chaos to amnesia, sometimes we simply have blinders to other's chaos. We don't see their struggles or understand their situation. We impose on them how we'd handle it without even really knowing how exactly we would manage given the circumstances.
Both of these perspectives are teaching me a lot about parenting. About loving and encouraging other parents while feeling loved and encouraged myself.
1. All children are blank slates capable of undesirable behaviors. 1b. Those undesirable behaviors are not because we're bad parents.Seriously, this is a given. We're human and we're all born into a sinful world. Every child is prone to selfishness, tantrums, demanding their own way, even violence. So before we see a kid hit and assume he does so because his parents are obviously raising him to be a mean child, let's offer each other a little grace. Just because our children behave badly doesn't always mean we're bad parents.
I'm breathing easier already, how about you?
2. All children are capable of good.Aggressive little boys are capable of loving and sharing and behaving nicely. Selfish little girls are capable of saying nice things and being good friends. So let's look for the good in our own kids and others'. I don't want my child written off because of some bad behavior, so let's not write others off either. It's called grace. I need it daily, and our kids do too.
3. Raising kids has good and bad moments.There has been plenty of chaos in our home since we had kids--messes and struggles and discipline and exhaustion. And, there has been plenty of blessings in our home since kids, too--love and joy and laughter and sweet moments. Can we be understanding of other's bad moments, while looking for our own good? If I spend my time looking for the good in this season instead of telling others how good they have it in their season, won't I be better off?
And, let's face it, they'll be better off too, because nobody magically appreciates the chaos by someone else demanding that we "enjoy it!"
4. Good enough wins.After failing many times over at this parenting thing, I'm starting to realize that as long as you're in it and you're committed, good enough wins. Stop expecting perfection from yourself or others. We're all in this parenting thing, doing the best we can with what we're given. And your good enough might look different than mine. So, how about instead of shouting judgments to each other, let's instead say, "Hey, I see what you're doing over there, and you're doing a good job. Keep it up. And let me know if you'd like some help."
Because, it's true. I see what you're doing, and you're doing an awesome job. Keep it up. And if you need some help--babysitting so you can have a date night or me time, or a play date so you can have another parent to chat with--it's okay to ask.
Mostly, what I'm meaning to say is: I'm sorry, moms who meant well. You don't deserve to be punched in the neck, and I'm sorry I ever felt that way. It was more about sleep deprivation than it was about you.
Now that we understand each other, can we be friends? Because I'll need your support when my children grow taller than me and don't call home.
your family needs you to be courageous
comfort for good enough moms
momcations + mommy breaks
monthly dose of simple
linked up: things i can't say | casey leigh