Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Failure Equals Success: What I Wish I Would’ve Known as a New Mom

When I first found out I was going to be a mom I read all the books and knew exactly how often to feed, at what age to expect milestones, and could swaddle like a boss.  Naturally I was never going to allow thumb sucking, my kids would be potty trained at two, they would nap until preschool, always self sooth at bed time, I would know what information to give them when, and, of course, they would always listen to us because we were such wise parents.

And then real life hit.  Those days came where I was ready to call it a day but it was only four o’clock and I felt more a massive failure than shred of success.  Add to it others’ commentary and emotional drowning threatens.

Oh, new mama, let it go. 

I’ve been praying over our mom breed a lot lately.  We don’t make this role very easy on each other.  Sometimes in our desire to claim A+ success in the parenting manual we come off more like vultures than doves.  I can only imagine it crushes the heart of God who created us in community with purpose.

Can we just be honest and say this hard work and no matter how much prep you do nothing runs adequate?  Yet God meets us there…



The moment quickly comes when the desire to comfort your baby supersedes the words on the pages of those books and voices around and you let them sleep in the car seat to sooth their stomach and you learn that sleep makes life more manageable for all. 

Maybe you’re going back to work and maybe you are not.  Those who choose to stay home will be scorned for “wasting your intelligence” and those who return to the workplace dinged for bonding time and you learn that you have to respond to God’s personal call over your life so that you don’t lose yourself.

You will take your toddler to the pool and the moms around you will discuss things that feel big but are really pretty remedial.  Is your kid walking? How many words do they say?  Getting vaccinated?  Sleeping all night?  Do they still have to wear a swim diaper?  And someone will clear their throat and loudly announce as if it is a teaching moment that they don’t feed their child meat, only tofu.  You’ll retreat home and put your precious babe down to double check the book to make sure that meat isn’t anywhere on the “wait” list like peanut butter and eggs.  And, when it’s not there, you will learn that the comparison game reduces your child to a sticker on a success chart and hinders you from celebrating what they are accomplishing when.

That perfect little gift will learn “me” and “no” {quickly proving that we are in fact born with a sinful nature} and fight repeatedly with siblings. After the millionth attempt at positive redirection you'll be driven to your own time out or extended potty break and you will learn that it is only positioned on your knees with your arms lifted high that you gather real strength to forge ahead.

Despite your greatest attempt at teaching pens are for paper only you might find a mural on the wall and that huge plastic playing house might in fact become home to roof climbing resulting in an injury and on those days you will learn that it is in these failed moments of listening that God gifts you opportunity to talk with your children in a very innocent way that there will always be times in their life where they are tempted to break one of your home/church rules but rules are made to protect…and hopefully prevent future pain with “biggies” like drunkenness, impurity, and the like down the road.

The evening will come when your child, well old enough to self sooth…maybe even 6 J….will come to you struggling to sleep and rather than hugging them and sending them back to bed you will pull them on to your lap, turn off the lights, and turn on worship songs to send them into dream land, and you learn that sometimes the potential for habit formation is less important than treating them like the child they are.

Even when issues of your very own line of education and training come up you might feel more unsure than expert with your own kids and you learn that you weren’t meant to go it alone in the first place.  It is in drawing on the nuggets of knowledge from the God-placed wise, trustworthy, and experienced Christian mamas around us that help nurture us so that we might better nurture them.

These moments come faster and more often than we ever dream possible when we are pregnant and have visions of the perfect parent we will be.  Undoubtedly this is because there is only one Perfect Parent and to survive this gig we must look beyond ourselves.

So can we just shed thee I-got-it-all-together costume and encourage each other, mamas?  Can we affirm each other that even when things don’t happen by the book there is still value to be gained and that although we might do things differently the most important thing is listening to God through each millisecond of this journey?  Because at the foot of the cross God reveals victory lessons and life-changing wisdom that helps us all feel comfortable in our own parenting skin.

This world is full of many voices.  Don’t worry, new mama.  God’s got your back.

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