Advice From the Person Least Likely to be a Mom

 

I stumbled across this post that I wrote over three years ago about how difficult I found parenting to be… oh, how true that remains! I thought I would re-publish it because 1) the book I recommend is still one of my favorites, and 2) the pictures of baby Jeremiah are cracking me up! He was such a mess! 

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I’ve never been a kid person. When Michael and I first got married (and for many years after that) I would walk by the baby isle at Target and inwardly cringe at all of the baby stuff. I didn’t hate babies, I just had no idea what I would do with one of my own. Kids were something for later… waaaaay later.

And then something happened and now I was living in “later.” It was time to think about having a baby. When we talked about having children, we always jumped ahead in our thinking to when they would be cool. Like when they were 9 or 10 years old. When they would be able to read and play guitar and have a conversation. We didn’t really focus on what it would be like to have an infant– largely because we had absolutely no idea.

For instance, did you know that new moms can become slightly irrational about their little ones? I do not usually consider myself to be the irrational type, but within 12 hours of bringing J home, I became obsessed with the temperature in his room. He was born on July 1, but I was convinced we were keeping it too cold in the house. I bought two thermometers for his room because I needed to know at all times what the temperature and humidity level was. I needed two thermometers so that I could make sure they were accurate.

I didn’t realize how much this child would change me. I knew he would change a lot of things about my life– sleeping, to name a big one– but I didn’t realize how much he would change me. I didn’t know how much I would miss him while he spent an afternoon at Grammy’s. I didn’t know how much I would love making him giggle hysterically by yelling “Boo!” at him. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to listen to him cry in his crib. I had no idea how much my heart would leap when he placed his hands on either side of my face, looked me straight in the eyes, and leaned in super fast for a kiss (which turned into more of a head butt.)

I had no idea about anything baby-related and I didn’t really try to fix that. I read a few books when I was pregnant about how to swaddle a baby and help him sleep through the night, but that was it. In my mind, there was a good reason for not reading tons of books about becoming a parent. I didn’t want to obsess over every decision I made. I didn’t want to read books that would contradict each other and leave me frustrated and confused. I didn’t want to read about all the things I should be doing and create more and more metrics to judge myself by. I’ve been down that road before and it never ends up where I think it will. It took a really long time, but I’ve mostly embraced the idea of grace. The idea that I am going to make mistakes but there is grace for me.

I didn’t dive into all the books that I might have read. Instead, I turned to a few dear friends who probably did read all those books and I said, “Help me please!” I have learned a ton from them and I am grateful for their patience with me. I know they think I’m a bit strange with all my [basic] questions, but I would rather ask someone I love (and who loves me!) what they tried and how it worked, than try and sort through what books are going to be helpful and what books are going to make me hate myself.

So, this next part is going to be pretty ironic because I am now going to recommend a parenting book that I read and really loved. I am not against books. I love books! I’m just trying to be more discerning about what I read and whose advice I take. This book is one that has really stuck with me and I find myself thinking about throughout the day. Especially in those “melt-down” moments.

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Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson- The authors do a fantastic job of showing us how to bring the Gospel into our parenting. What I think about the Gospel is the most important thing about me. So to have a book that demonstrates how the Gospel dispenses grace into every aspect of parenting is incredibly refreshing. There’s good theology in this book, but there are also good, practical discussions on how to raise your children to love, adore, and be captured by the Gospel.

“Every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old Testament Law– a set of standards that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them. No, rules are not the answer. What they need is GRACE. We must tell our kids of the grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message your children hear, if you are just telling them to “be good,” then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too.”

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Maternity Session {Devon}

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to take maternity photos of my dear friend, Devon. I was super excited because, not only is she as cute as she can be, but she is also incredibly special to me. I met Devon back in 2004 when we were both new teachers at Cary High School. Due to a shortage of space, we were assigned a classroom to share in the 500 building. Because Devon had already taught for a couple of years at another school, she had her act together and was a seasoned veteran compared to me. I had no idea what I was doing. Seriously. And, looking back, I know that Devon saw that and took pity on me. I learned a tremendous amount about how to teach by seeing her do it for 90 minutes every day.

If you know me at all, you know that I consider my years teaching in the classroom to be the hardest years of my life. It is so hard to be a teacher and those folks that do it well need to be recognized for the incredibly difficult job they have. It’s downright scary to stand in front of 25-30 high school students and teach them math. You try it– I bet it will make you want to cry. Or throw up.

In the time I spent sharing a classroom with Devon, I grew a lot as a teacher. I learned how to teach strong lessons and push students to succeed. I learned how to talk with disgruntled parents and help them see that we were on the same side. I also learned to apologize to students and laugh at myself. And my buddy, Devon, was a big part of that growth. Even after I left CHS, Devon and I remained great friends– mostly because being around her is good for my soul so now she is stuck with me!

I had so much fun taking these photos of Devon and her family. Mark, Devon, and Cole will be welcoming Baby Girl in early March– I can’t wait!


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Pink is Not My Color

And yet, I found myself surrounded by pink for a few days last week. Pink icing, pink fabric, pink M&Ms. Despite my favorite color being brown and my general tendency to stay with earth tones, I actually enjoyed all the pink and purple. It’s pretty, isn’t it?

I was hosting a baby shower for a friend who is having a little girl in a few weeks. Just a side note- if you are going to throw a baby shower for a little baby girl, February is a fantastic time to do it. There are pink things everywhere…
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