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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Early Mommyhood Pitfalls

The other day I was reflecting on the first few years of being a Mom.  I had my first two kids so close together - 19 months apart - that I was often dizzy from the upkeep of home and kids and errands.  Now that we have more kids - and more variety in temperaments, I realize the first two were extremely easy-going and required very little to keep them happy.  I didn't realize at the time how easy I had it!  And if someone had told me I would have been annoyed - so thanks to all of you who kept your mouths shut.

The first baby is a bit of a shock.  I hadn't realized how much time it took to get out the door.  How much was involved in lugging a carseat everywhere.  How slow it was to buckle him in each time.  How inconvenient last-minute diaper blow-outs were.  You get the picture.

But after a while, and after the second baby and feeling like I was swimming in baby clothes and burp rags, the novelty of baby-fun had totally worn off.  Okay, it probably happened before the second baby, but I didn't have time to collect my wits and reflect on it.

The temptation was to look for other endeavours that were more intellectually stimulating and exciting. It is easy to think of throwing onesself into other causes when the alternative is snotty noses and diaper changes.  I went down this path once or twice.  Any stranger who knocked on my door could be prepared for a lengthy persuasive dialogue and when they were sent on their way, hours of my prayers for their lost souls.  A young person I had known made some poor choices and because of my grief and prayers for her, the laundry stopped in its tracks and supper was toast, canned soup and crackers - for two weeks!

I admit these things to my shame. I'm sure most of you super-moms out there have never been tempted to throw yourself into another cause because reading Green Eggs and Ham for the fiftieth time just seems too boring.  So I'm not talking to the super-moms who got it the first time 'round.  I'm talking to the distracted ones - who tend to find the small world of toddlers just a tad too small.

If I could go back, I'd reclaim those years.  I'd get into that small world of theirs and play more with them.  I'd get a strong cup of coffee and not drag my heels all day.  I'd try to be less head-in-the-clouds and more feet-on-the-ground.  I think I was slow to recognize my calling as a Mom and to devote myself fully to the domestic tasks I had been entrusted with.

If you're in the early years of mommyhood, (and are not in the super-overachiever-mom category), let me encourage you to learn from my mistakes!  Give yourself room to withdraw from causes and crusades and devote yourself to the small things - picking dandelions with your toddler, colouring pages together, making play-doh and sitting with them to model things.  Someone once said the secret to parenting isn't so much positive affirmation as much as it is parental participation.  Sure, affirm your kids - but they'll appreciate it so much more if you participate with them.

Sometimes parenting seems so simple and straightforward.  Lately it seems riddled with pitfalls and complexities.  So, you know it will be complicated eventually - why not enjoy the simplicity of the early years and carve out this special time to make memories with them?  Thankfully my kids don't remember most (any?) of the mistakes I made then.  But I do - and have changed my course for the latter kids.  I invite you to correct your course too - if you've longed to do something of more value lately.  The sense is that it is more valuable to write a book, lead a class, make a gourmet dish for the potluck, campaign for your public official, convert the cult members, pray and fundraise for the latest crisis on your horizon, glue yourself to the internet for any variety or excitement (news, nutrition for toddlers, DIY projects, home-business building - you name it).  But it isn't more valuable.

It may be a cliche - and so often that means it's true - you won't get these days/years back.  So focus on this task of being a Mommy.  Revel in it.  Appreciate the smallness of their world.  Open your eyes wide to their excitements and catch their innocence and cherish it in your heart.  Jump into this endeavour with both feet, without a backward glance at all the other stuff you could be doing (getting a doctorate, travelling the world, mastering the art of basket-weaving - whatever!).  I wish I had.

I'm so glad I have more kids to try again.  And I hope Caleb and Priscilla will forgive me for letting the ball drop during their early years.  Isn't God gracious to shield their memories from when they were so young!?

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4 comments:

  1. HA. You hit the nail on the head. I have always struggled with looking for higher causes/ callings. And NO, I can not reclaim the years either. We have a lot in common, sister.

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    1. Thanks Jena! Yes, we do have a lot in common. Just wish I had the organizing instinct in common. (In my dreams...) :)

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  2. Yes. So true. And eventually they leave and then they're gone, especially if they've chosen a different lifestyle. Oh, to have those early years back!

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    1. Thanks Annie... but be encouraged that He restores the years the locusts have eaten!

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