Flipping through the pages of my journal today in an attempt to procrastinate just a few seconds more, I happened up the entry from September 15, 2014. We hadn’t quite passed the one-month mark since the girls’ arrival, and it is clear from reading it that I was a new mom. But I was growing. After nearly a month of settling in and getting to know the girls, I was tired of worrying over nearly every action and replaying every interaction in my mind to see if I was on par for being the best mom ever. I was exhausted.
I had an epiphany on that September day. I wrote, “How would my parenting (and my feelings about it) change if I accepted, truly accepted, that I am going to make mistakes? That my children will disagree with me? That they will get angry at me and second-guess the way I’ve chosen to parent? That they will not be as grateful for me as I would like them to be? That I will not and cannot be perfect? What if I accepted all of this right now? I think I’d parent more confidently, more boldly, more honestly.” I began the journey to coming to terms with my own imperfection and found the courage to be a better mother. A mother who was focused more on raising my girls to be healthy, compassionate, responsible, and kind than on being liked by them.
At the time, I vaguely wondered what would happen in my writing if I were to adopt the same attitude. What if I stopped worrying about reactions and simply wrote honestly, to the best of my ability? What if I got out of my head and stopped analyzing myself into an unhappy paralysis? What could I do then? What would I do? I delighted in the possibilities for a few days and then forgot to do anything with them. But I found my way back to them today. Actually, I’ve been finding my way back to those possibilities throughout this month–growing as a writer in discipline and in content. After finding my stride as a mother, I know I can do the same as a writer.
Leah, I am so impressed with your writing. What impresses me the most is that you can get on paper what my own thoughts have been. This time it was on parenting and my view of it. At times, I could be a friend with my children, but mostly it was being a mother who was ‘rocking the cradle’ of children who would one day rule the world in their place on this earth. Instilling in them the character and virtue that they would need as they journeyed and persevered in their own lives. Today, with all my children in their 30’s, I can honestly say, they are all my true friends… NOW. Instilling godly character and virtue wasn’t easy coming from a fallen ugly sinner such as myself. And so in my mistakes (and I made a mountain of them) I asked forgiveness of God and asked forgiveness of my children when I blew it and then I learned that forgiving myself was important too. Raising the kids with the knowledge that God is merciful and gracious helped me to know that He would be merciful and gracious with me, too. That led to being merciful and gracious with each other, parent to child or child to parent. Unlike my upbringing, I have learned that God’s love for me is greater than his judgment of me. His anger and intense training, is for a moment, His love is always, always encompassing. So, when I was ‘unpopular’ for my children’s best interest. I knew the kids knew I loved them. When I was angry over some disobedience or got ‘push back’, I learned that I could be more like my heavenly Father by training them and then having good discussion of my ‘why’ if I felt it needed for them to understand. Or just to hug them and say, “I love you, trust me in this. You mean the world to me and I love you too much to let somethings go by that would hurt you in the end.” Be encouraged dear girl. True parenting is not for the faint of heart. l You are gifted and talented and those precious girls will know a mother’s love, because of you. I’m proud of you.
May I just pass on a little wisdom that I have learned? You may do as you will with it. From my perspective the very best way to parent those girls is for you and Brian to love and show love to each other. All children feel secure when they are in a happy home with parents who are affectionate with each other. Secondly is to consider that you both are on the same page as far as parenting. If you are both strict parents or if you are both lenient parents, loving your girls, either way, as long as it is consistent, should be for a very good for outcome. It’s when one parent is strict and one parent is lenient, switching in and out, that I’ve seen some real struggle in children. I worked in the school system for a total of 11 years. I worked with many parents and their children. I saw this dynamic. Your uncle and I didn’t always agree with each other, but we always backed each other up in front of the kids and then dealt with the disagreement at a later time away from the children. In other words, we got busy getting on the same page!
Love you Much!!!