Five Gems of Truth for Mothers

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.

~Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

 

For years, 34 to be exact, I have believed that the hospital I birthed my first son in, did me a great disservice by letting me walk out the double doors of their institution after my son was a mere one day old. Oh, they took care of me alright. They gave me ice chips during the birthing process. They had all the equipment needed, in working order, to deliver a healthy baby. The pitocin was running properly through the tube and into my system. It was a hard birth but it was a healthy birth.

I slept as well as I could after my baby was born and then the next morning it was time to go home. Everything seemed normal, but little did I know, little did I realize, little did anyone tell me that my whole life had changed the day before and I didn’t even know it.

I had a baby.

Not just any baby. But a real, living, breathing baby that got hungry and pooped and cried did all those things that real babies do. Not like the babies you get for Christmas when you’re a four year old little girl. Babies that don’t make noise and don’t poop and never get hungry. If they do, you just pretend to feed them. You pretend to soothe them. You pretend to change their diaper. And all the pretending works. But not with real babies. You can’t pretend with real babies. Real babies let you know if you mess up. Real babies let you know that their diapers are messy and haven’t been changed. Real babies will want some more to eat so they can fill up that diaper again and again.

As a new parent, you kind of expect all that to happen. That is the reason for baby showers. To prepare the unprepared. To prepare the ones who did and who didn’t plan for baby. Materially, anyhow. For the truth is – you can never fully prepare for being a mom. Or dad.

You can buy every little thing they advertise for the new little munchkins. From pacifiers, to cloth diapers to disposables, to itsy-bitsy onesies, to super soft blankies, to stuffed bears, to baby lotion… you get the picture. You can buy it all, or at least what you think you’ll actually need, and it still won’t prepare you for what is coming. You can read every book on pregnancy and every book on raising children and you will still be unprepared to some degree. But there is one simple fact on your side: you have never been a parent before.

This one simple fact may seem discouraging when it comes down to it. Except, again, for one simple fact: your child has never been a baby before. Nor anything that comes after. Be it a toddler, a preschooler, a kindergartner, a youth, a teenager, or………….

They will have multitudes of ‘firsts’ that will cause you to squeal with delight. Firsts that you have taken for granted and now see again, through their eyes, in awe. Firsts that you will have forgotten what it felt like to experience. Firsts that will leave you dumbfounded, amazed, frustrated, frightened, embarrassed, uptight, proud, and every gamut of emotion in between and beyond.

However, there are a few gems of truth in this life they call parenthood, or mothering, or fathering. Gems no new parent should ever be let out of the delivery section of the hospital (or the office for signing adoption papers) without hearing. Gems that need to be heard by new moms and new dads everywhere, in hopes of saving them moments, that can seem like hours, and hours that can seem like days, and days that can seem like months of discouragement, depression, hopelessness, frustration, anger, despair, and more.

Numero Uno… Remember, remember, remember – you have never done this before. You won’t have all the answers, so go easy on yourself. You get better at changing diapers the more you change them, just as you get better at setting boundaries the more you do it, just as you get better at extending grace the more you extend it – to yourself and to others. Practice, practice, practice. Extend, extend, extend.

Butt paste is hard to put on the first time. You’re afraid you will break baby’s butt by pushing so hard to get it to spread. Once you realize after applying it a few times that baby doesn’t even bruise from said application, it’s easier to do. You’ve practiced, practiced, practiced. You are an expert with butt paste. Just like you will become an expert in other things you once never experienced (in the land of parenthood).

Numero Dos… Your baby doesn’t know you are new at this. So you put the diaper on backwards. And who cares if you gave up on cloth and switched to disposable diapers? If your baby is well fed, is changed at regular intervals and when poopy, and is sheltered, your baby is being loved. And isn’t that the greatest thing, after all? Not what brand of shorts they are sporting, whether their polo shirt has a horse on the chest, if their shoes match their outfit. None of that matters and your baby won’t care.

Numero Tres… Lighten up. Let go of expectations you have put on yourself and (perhaps not realizing) your child(ren).

We spend billions of dolllars trying to make our children into little conformities of our own desires. We try to keep up with the Jones’s and in doing so our children miss out on the one thing they are supposed to be experiencing: Childhood. We are afraid of them getting their name brand clothes dirty in the sandbox. We fret over style when we should be teaching values. Let them be children. Let them get dirty.

Numero Tres... Mama said there’d be days like this. A popular song verbiage that has tremendous value and truth. You may not have heard those words come from mama’s lips, but every parent needs to know, “There WILL BE days like ‘this’. There will be days of frustration, days of feeling inadequate, guilty and ashamed. Days filled with weariness, wishing you could throw in the towel and drive back to that birthing center and ask for a full refund.

But wait.

It could always be worse. It really could. Really. That is not just a cliche.

Close your eyes and count to ten. Slowly. Your kids didn’t set out to make you tired and miserable. They are children. More than likely they are doing what they are supposed to do. Being children. However, they may be in need of some timely guidance. So give it to them, in love.

Without uncontrolled anger.
Without instilling shame.
With discipline that fits the misconduct and is age-appropriate.
With forgiveness.
And in love.

Always in love.

Numero Quattro… Things are not always what they seem, but if they are, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.

Some times, on those harder days, if you wait long enough before reacting, you’ll see the situation for what it really is – funny. When you finally get past the embarrassment of the repairman coming into your living room to your boys’ ingenious raceway made of connected Kotex pads (true story – not mine, however) and step back and look at how creative your boys are – eventually you will laugh. I promise. But, if for some reason you can’t just then and things only continue to pile higher and deeper and you’re not sure you can do another day, you need to ask for help. At the point of a sigh replacing your joy, you need a break.

Asking for help is not admitting you’re a bad parent. It is admitting you are human and you are being honest with yourself. The person too proud to ask for help will only make it harder for her/himself and their family. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Ask for help. Offer help, if you’re stocked up emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Numero Cinco… One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was from my first son’s pediatrician. This is what he said…

Dance with your children.”

A month ago I spent a week with my daughter. During the course of that week she gave me a precious gift. A sign that read: “This kitchen is for dancing.”

And that’s what kitchens are for. Dancing with those you love and cherish. With those you have forgiven and those who have forgiven you. With those you have experienced life with. They are for making memories. They are for dancing…

with your children.

A Few Gems for Mother’s Day

Tell them and they’ll forget.
Teach them and they may remember.
Involve them and they will learn.
~Benjamin Franklin

Falling for Leaves

Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child… There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name the moment.
~Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

They may forget what you said,
but they will never forget how you made them feel.

~Carol Buchner

I’m beginning to perceive motherhood as a long, slow letting go, of which birth is just the first step.
~ Sandra Steingraber, Having Faith

Hugs can do great amounts of good,
especially for children.

~Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

A person’s a person, no matter how small.
~Dr. Seuss

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.
~Wess Stafford

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.
~Lady Bird Johnson

Children are great imitators.
So give them something great to imitate.

~Unknown

There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire.
~McKay

If you have a child, your duty of the moment
may be to change a dirty diaper.

So you do it.

But you don’t just change that diaper,
you change it to the best of your ability,
with great love for both God and that child.

And it must be done,
because the duty of the moment
is the duty of God.

~Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Choose your words wisely,
for it easier to build up a child than to repair an adult.

~Unknown

Children are not people to be molded
but little people to be unfolded.

~Anonymous

Let children be little for they only stay that way for a very short while.
~Unknown

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They are the most important work.

~John Trainer, MD

His little hands stole my heart…
and his little feet ran away with it.

~Anonymous

Every child is gifted.
They just unwrap their packages at different times.

~Unknown

‘Sometimes’, said Pooh,
’the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.’
~A.A. Milne

I adore his smile
I cherish his hugs

Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child,
but what you’ve gained from having one.

~Sunny Gupta

A person soon learns how little he knows
when a child begins to ask quesitons.

~Richard L. Evans

Never let a problem to be solved
become more important than a person to be loved.

~Thomas S Monson
There is no way to be a perfect mother,
but there are a million ways to be a good one.

~Unknown

How you speak to your child will become their inner voice. ~Unknown

I never pulled over the car just to stare at horses.
I never was willing to give someone else my last bite.
I never planned on handling someone else’s boogers
and I never listened to a song 50 times in a row.
I never found rocks in my dryer or had the power to heal
a wound with my kiss… until you.



A tired boy

December’s MVP

In the times we are going through – unemployment, rising costs all around, broken marriages, abused children, neighbors suing neighbors – it seems that there is nothing good, nothing positive to be seen nor to be heard.  At least that’s what it seems like.
The other day I was thinking about this and decided that each month I am going to introduce you to one of my heroes.  A valuable player on the team in my game of life.  But – what exactly is a hero – to me?

You look beautiful today, Tamara. 
And that’s not just because I want to use your iPod 
and because I need you to get me water.”

A hero, according to Webster, is a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability, otherwise known as an illustrious warrior.  It is someone who, admired for their achievements and noble qualities, has shown great courage and has become an object of extreme admiration and devotion.

Now, I know this person is not a mythological character but, is of divine descent, being a child of the High King.  Because of her heritage, she has been given and has shown great strength and abilities and has indeed been an illustrious warrior.  I admire her for her achievements and how she can show great courage in trying times and yes, she has become an object of extreme admiration and devotion.

One of my favorite heroes is – my daughter. Many of you know that she took a job offer almost a year ago, in southern California.  Tamara, my daughter, works in a group home for seriously abused children.  She oversees a home of   +/-  twelve boys and other staff members.  In the last nine months, she has become a mother to several children who, more than likely, have not experienced unconditional love, safety, and other qualities of life we take for granted, usually on a daily basis.

Tamara what did I do to get to go with you?
Cause whatever it was I want to do it again so we can go again!”

One of the hardest parts of her job is ‘becoming involved’.  Beginning to realize that there is a place in her heart for these kids.  Even after she has been kicked, called every foul word there is, punched in the face, walked around the buildings for hours in the middle of the night, and more – even after all that, she laughs and plays with these kids.  She tucks them in at night and prays together.  When no one else will take them in, they find a way into her heart.

She affectionately calls him ‘Munchkin’.   He was seven when she met him and he was still seven when she had to let him go.  That was the day I got a phone call and I listened as she emptied her aching heart in front of me.  That was the day I helped her carry her broken heart to the feet of Jesus.  All I could do was listen.  But Jesus… I know he can heal the brokenhearted.

Munchkin was moved to another home because of someone else’s neglect.  When Tamara returned from having a day off work, she returned to chaos.  Her little Munchkin had been hurt and sent for emergency care to the hospital.  She high-tailed it to the hospital to see him.  When she finally caught up to him, he had a big smile waiting for her, surprised that she would come to see him on her day off.  Just him.

That’s what happens when Jesus gets a hold of your heart – you give it away and often, it gets beat up and bruised, inside and out.  The only one who can heal that kind of pain is the one who took hold of it – Jesus.

Tamara enjoyed waking up her boys this morning 
by bouncing on their beds.”

Tamara begins her day of heroism at 6 AM and wraps it up anywhere after 10 PM.  It can be a day full of tension, sacrifice, brutality, and more.  However, in the midst of all of that, you can hear laughter and see tears of forgiveness and experience love.  It’s a love, you could say, that surpasses the comprehension of most people.  She loves those kids – red and yellow, black and white – without reservation.  “Her kids” she calls them and considers them her own, as a mother hen is to her chicks.
She may not be a hero in the sense that she’s saving the world like Superman and she certainly has no red cape or blue tights, but she is saving the world, one little-sized heart at a time.  And that is definitely making a world of difference.

Seven year old: “Tamara, if you can read minds what am I thinking right now?”
Tamara:: “Um, food?”
Seven year old: “Nope. That you’re pretty.”