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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Friday Roundup 2.10.12

I’ve got some really good links this week! And, if you’re like me, you could use some food for thought. I’ve been absorbed in the day-to-day tasks of being a wife and mommy this week– I haven’t done a great job of getting outside myself. But these articles have helped me think a little… which is always good!

Watch Your Conjunctions in Parenting from The Gospel Coalition. Jeremy Pierre echos many of the ideas I’ve been reading about in Give them Grace. I like what he says about exchanging “but” for “so”.

Using but may be communicating something we don’t want to say—namely, that there is some kind of conceptual opposition between “I love you” and “You need to obey.” […] The but has to go. Try so instead. “I love you, so you need to obey.” This conjunction more effectively communicates the logical relationship between the two concepts. It’s not a relationship of opposition, but of grounding. The reason you are to obey me is because I already love you. This is how parents can be grace-based while insisting on obedience. We should never communicate even a hint of opposition between parental love and children’s obedience.

The Single Greatest Determiner of a Lasting Marriage from She Worships. Sharon writes about a study she came across from Psychologist John Gottman. Fascinating stuff here… convicting stuff.

Specifically, Gottman conducted a study in which he videotaped newlyweds discussing an issue about which they disagreed, and then he tracked the couples over the following years to see which couples stayed together and which ones divorced. […] And what were the characteristics of a doomed marriage? Gottman observed that in couples who later divorced, there was an element of contempt in their disagreements with one another. While arguing, they were condescending, they froze one another out by refusing to listen, and they tore one another down with name-calling and insults.

The New Christian Abolition Movement from CNN. Reporter Eric Marrapodi educates us on sex trafficking and what some groups are doing to combat it. The story is centered on what is going on in my beloved state of North Carolina, so I found this to be especially close to home for me.

Motivated in large part by their religious traditions of protecting the vulnerable and serving “the least of these,” as Jesus instructed his followers to do in the Gospel of Matthew, World Relief and other Christian agencies like the Salvation Army are stepping up efforts and working with law enforcement to stem the flow of human trafficking, which includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking. “Jesus didn’t just go around telling people about himself.  He also healed the blind and healed the brokenhearted, he freed captives, and I think that it would be ridiculous to walk up to someone who is hurting and tell them, ‘Let me tell you about the Gospel,’ and then walk away while they’re still hurting,” Mitchell says.

The Return of the Journal of Biblical Counseling (!) from Between Two Worlds. Justin Taylor briefly explains why so many of us are excited about the JBC returning. David Powlison, who ranks right up there with Keller in my book, is the editor of the JBC. Piper says of Powlison:

Among living authors who think deeply about the Word of God and the workings of the human soul, I know of no one who writes more perceptively or ministers more deeply to me than David Powlison. . . . There are many today who specialize in soul-care or deep, faithful grasp of biblical theology; but there are few who do both. David Powlison does both.

I hope your Friday is amazing, friends! Now go and read something (The Hunger Games do not count… in case you were wondering!) 🙂

Advice From the Person Least Likely to Be a Mom

 

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 Wal-Mart 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 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 share two parenting books with you that I have 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. These two books are ones that have really stuck with me and I find myself thinking about throughout the day. Especially in those “melt-down” moments.

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Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic- I’d heard several friends reference this book and had read some things that Rachel wrote on her blog, so I thought I would give it a shot. Plus, it was only $6 on the Kindle so I figured I could risk it. This is a short, incredibly funny, and encouraging book for moms with young children. Rachel has 5 kids that are all little and she has somehow managed to keep her sanity. This is probably a book I will read several times a year for a while.

“This is not a tender reminiscence from someone who had children so long ago that she only remembers the sweet parts. I do not have a foggy, precious perspective on mothering little ones. My children do not sit on monogrammed picnic blankets in coordinated outfits while I bring them nutritious snacks on a silver tray. You are more likely to find me putting an end to them pulling each other around at breakneck speeds on a tablecloth tied to a jump rope, or seriously counseling someone who has part of a toilet paper tube taped to their nose.”

Give them Grace 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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Should’ve Known Better

I should’ve seen this one coming. I was busy taking photos and, since it’s impossible for me to think about what my crazy toddler might do next while also trying to nail focus, white balance, and compose something vaguely interesting, I was not paying attention.

He’s so cute, though, don’t you think? A little boy playing in a flower pot full of dirt (and dead flowers.)

I bet you can see what’s coming. You probably have a clue as to what little boys do best.

As I watched it roll off the porch, I didn’t even try to catch it. I was holding my camera, so I was much better suited to take a picture. Maybe Michael can fix it?

We don’t call him “Jeremiah the Destroyer” for nothing. And he lives up to this moniker every single day.

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