Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thoughts on Motherhood


I was at our local church bookstore, picking up some Easter gifts, when I happened across a book on clearance for $4. It was called, It's Okay to Take a Nap, and since this is something Sam has been telling me for years now, I decided to pick it up and take it home. The subtitle of the book is "And other reassuring truths for mothers everywhere." I read it with pencil in hand, and ended up making quite a few notations. I'd like to share some of what I liked with you here. P.S. The author is Debra Sansing Woods.

*"If we as mothers do something we absolutely love alongside raising children we absolutely love, we will, I believe, almost guarantee that our children will be raised in an atmosphere of joy." Sam and I both had to read this statement twice before we really got it, but I absolutely (:-D) love it. Being a mom doesn't mean giving up all of our talents, hobbies, interests, learning, etc. We should definitely continue to do things we love, because it will bless both our lives and our children's lives. I know it can be hard to find time/energy/ways to do what you love, but here is my advice: JUST DO IT!

*"Most mothers have no real idea how much the accomplish in a given day. Because, truth be told, much of what they do for their children and in their homes does not appear on their to-do lists. If you find yourself feeling discouraged about how much you think you're not getting done, take a day this week and write down everything you did with or for your family that day that wasn't on a to-do list. I suspect your head will spin with your accomplishments." Great advice, I think!

*"I have come to believe that it's okay, even highly beneficial, to take a nap whenever possible. There was a time when, as a mother, I was not completely comfortable with the idea of taking naps. I think I had the subconscious notion that they were a poor use of my time, that even if I had the opportunity to take a nap, I should do something more 'productive' instead... It's clear to me now that oftentimes what we moms need more than anything is a much-deserved nap to give us the energy and stamina we need to more fully meet our families' needs." She hit the nail on the head! This is exactly why I can't nap. The problem is, when I don't have enough sleep I turn into a "Mommy-monster". My kids deserve better than that! I need to learn to take quick, efficient naps. (According to the author, "short naps, thirty minutes or less, are usually best because they take the edge off the fatigue without leaving you feeling groggy.")

*"If something might be funny later, I should go ahead and let it be funny now." Again, great advice!

*"A friend shared with me how much she absolutely loved being a mother. She said that while being a mother was a surprising amount of work and that, overall, raising children was far from a perfect experience, she found immense joy in the perfect moments that abound in sharing a life with a child." Sometimes I feel like I miss out on the perfect moments because I'm too focused on the work of being a mom. I need to be better about basking in the glow of perfect moments.

*"I have given myself permission to put my children on hold occasionally... The truth is, my children will have a rude awakening if they grow up expecting others to pay complete attention to them whenever demanded." I really struggled after having Brinley, because now I had two kids often demanding my attention at the same time. I felt bad picking and choosing who had to wait, or really, I felt bad making either of them wait. Waiting is good for a child, it teaches them patience. That's a big word at our house right now. Levi can often be heard saying to me, "Mom, you have to be patient!"

*"I don't have to stop what I'm doing to give a child the attention she needs. Sometimes my kids simply want to be a part of what I'm doing."

*"Happy kids are raised by happy moms." So do what it takes to be happy--guilt free!

*"More often than not, the moms I know who seem genuinely content make taking exceptional care of themselves a top priority." #1 thing I need to work on.

*"I learned from experience that the right way to get exercise while raising kids is simply to get exercise whenever and however you can." I've really struggled with exercising. I'm always saying "I can't do this because of that" i.e. I can't wake up early to exercise because I'm so tired from getting up with the kids all night. Or, I can't exercise when the kids are awake, because they climb all over me. Both totally true statements, but they aren't constructive, now are they? I just need to get to whenever and however, instead of trying to stick to a set schedule or type of exercise.

*"It seems clear to me that the secret to a mothers love is not that it be perfect in its delivery but rather that it is showered in abundance over her children's lives."

That quote just segues perfectly into this little rant:

A couple of nights ago I was at book club. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but there was a comment about some mom who only allowed her children 30 minutes of screen time (tv and computer) a day. A young mom in the group made a comment about her son watching more tv than that, and it seemed to me that she felt like she was being a bad mom. This set me thinking. Parenthood, but more particularly motherhood, has been turned into a huge, money-making racket that preys on our tendencies to be fearful and guilt-ridden.

Think about all the magazines about motherhood, all the books, and the studies on raising children. People are being paid big money to research and publish this stuff because we gobble it up and then, like after eating that entire basket of Easter candy, we feel like crud. "Don't let your kids watch tv or they will be fat and stupid!" "Don't let your kids sit in a grocery cart without a fancy seat cover or they will die of a strange disease!" "Don't let your kids eat cold lunch meat because there is the slightest chance it might possibly have a tiny bit of bacteria on it!" GOSH! And besides all the advice and "professional opinions" out there, we have huge super stores devoted to things your child must have, and if you don't buy it you are not a good parent. They have helmets for children learning to walk... really, they do! I'm sure "experts" would love to call CPS on me because I let my children run around barefoot outside.

When Levi was just two or three weeks old, I was reading a couple of different baby books. One said to nurse your baby whenever they seemed to want to, and another said to nurse your baby on a certain schedule. One said that nursing was a way to comfort your baby to sleep, and the other said never to let your baby fall asleep while nursing. I remember clearly sitting in our rocking chair, holding Levi, and sobbing to Sam, "I've messed everything up! I just want to start over! I'm not doing it right!" Sam gave me the best advice in the world: "Put the book down!" I did. And Levi and I were both happier and healthier. In addition, I learned something monumental. There are only two experts when it comes to my babies: Me and the Lord. The more I crowded outsiders in, the more I pushed out the Lord. By not reading the parenting books and magazines or worrying about what "experts" say or what the studies showed, I allowed the power of revelation and mother's intuition to be the ruling force in raising my children.

In case you were wondering, tv time has no direct correlation to how well your child does in school (or so I remember from reading Freak-o-nomics) and not a single baby has ever died from botulism caused by honey. Not saying you should feed your infant honey or let your child stay glued to the tv 24/7. What I am saying is you are the expert on your child. If you think something is wrong (i.e. grouchiness, disrespect, weight, inactivity, etc.) and you think that it is caused by watching too much tv, then limit tv time. Set your own boundaries. YOU are the expert on your child and YOU have the gift of revelation concerning them. Forget all the "experts" who are making tons of money off of making us feel guilty!

That is why I love this quote: "It seems clear to me that the secret to a mothers love is not that it be perfect in its delivery but rather that it is showered in abundance over her children's lives." As long as your child feels loved, you are doing a great job as a mother.

And that's my rant.


Tedi said...

I loved this post. I totally relate to what the "experts" say and too many mothers worrying about doing it just right. Like today I gave Audrey 1% milk because we ran out of whole (which according to experts she isn't suppose to have any milk for another month). Anyway thanks for the post and I agree that if mom is happy the family is happy and naps are important!

Laurel said...

Love it, Love it, LOVE IT!!! All of it! Thanks for sharing.

Robyn said...

Thanks for this post, it's just what I needed today. I feel the same about the "experts." It's good to know what the recommendations are, but as a mother you have to use your best judgement. We are told to have stair gates at the bottom and top of the stairs, and in England you are supposed to sterilise all bottles and the water used for feeding infants formula (up to 1 year!). I don't use stair gates, and never sterilised the water, and my boys are doing fine. I have realized lately how important it is to seek the Lord's guidance in raising my boys, and am trying harder to do this. Thanks for your thoughts Kelsey.

Connie said...

I'm not even a mom and I liked the post and appreciate what it has to say. Thanks for sharing Kelsey!

Tennille and Nathaniel said...

Kels, I sure love you. You have good insight and I totally agree about doing things that make you happy. I love days when I get time to exercise and shower before Daddy leaves. If I get those things done just being me an individual and not being a mom, I feel so much better. I need those things to be a better mom. And a nap, oh how I love those, but I feel just like you. I hardly every do take a nap. I might try to squeeze on in more now and guilt-free too!

shellyjean said...

I read the entire post twice. Perfect timing for my life right now. Thank you Kelsey - I need to find that book!

Kevin and Eliza said...

Thanks Kelsey and thanks for talking with me the other day on our walk. I will have to get the book back to you soon as others would probably love to borrow it from you too.

Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing this Kelsey. Hope you're doing well.


Stephanie Batista said...

I miss you all of the time! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo