I have hit the 9 week mark on this pregnancy, and this time around has been a doozy! I think that the Texas heat and air pollution makes the morning sickness worse. Bickering children also make me feel worse. It’s been pretty easy to feel sorry for myself and turn into a really grouchy mom!
This post is a baby shower devotion that I did for a friend of mine in the spring of 2010 – it is written from the point of view of talking to her. I reread it this afternoon, and it was a good reminder to me to choose to enjoy the current season of parenting that I am in!
I know that when you came to Texas from India, one thing that was very new to you was the seasons that we have here! Mainly the extremes – the cold of winter here and the heat of summer.
Just as we experience four seasons in a year, we also experience different seasons as parents. Life with children is constantly changing. One moment, you can hold your baby on your lap while you eat dinner, and the next moment they have grown into a grabbing and reaching baby who sticks her little fingers in everything! Each season has different demands and different joys. If anything, life with children is definitely never boring!
You are quickly approaching the newborn season! There is just something irresistable about a newborn. You will be amazed at this new little person and how perfectly God made her. What a blessing and what a gift from the Lord! We are excited with you and can’t wait to see what she looks like!
The newborn season is also a very tiring stage of life! You will be stretched in ways that you never imagined. Trust me, you could never imagine them. Shortly after Gresham was born, there was a night that I was up feeding him at about 2:00 a.m., and Aidan came out to the living room crying because there were fire ants in his bed biting him. I had to get Jordan up to change his sheets and take care of his bites, and there we were all up together at 2:00 a.m.!
Even if wild things don’t happen, everyday life with a newborn can be just plain exhausting. Because of this, it’s easy to fall into the “It will be easier when’s…”
Here’s what I mean by the “It will be easier when’s…”
“It will be easier when the baby sleeps through the night…”
“It will be easier when she can crawl, she’ll be able to entertain herself better…”
“It will be easier when she is not into everything…”
But if we’re not careful, we can always be looking forward to the end of the current challenges instead of enjoying the current blessings.
“It will be easier when the baby can eat with us at the table…”
”It will be easier when we are done with potty training…”
“It will be easier when she is in school…”
”It will be easier when we don’t have to drive her around to so many activities…”
”It will be easier when she is in college…”
… And then the children are grown and out of the home, and it would be easier if they were back at home so that Mom could know what they are up to and who their friends are…
(I haven’t reached that stage yet, but Mom tells me that this is true)
I realized at one point (well, actually at several points really…) that instead of enjoying life with my children, I was merely enduring life and banking on the future being better. I realized that I could think, “It will be easier when they have all come to faith,” and “It will be easier when Owen is over his reflux,” but honestly Scripture does not promise that my children will all be believers and God certainly does not guarantee that my children will experience good health.
One day I sat down and made a list of all of the wrong reasons for loving my children and enjoying the season we are in right now, and then sought to find out the right reasons for loving them.
- Because they do what I want them to or behave well
- Because they are likable personalities
- Because I want a close family or a family of all believers
- Because God has given them to me to love (Titus 2:4)
This was a big one. I should be doing this for God. To honor Him. Not because of what I might get out of the deal. Dr. John Hannah said last week at the conference that we glorify God when we reflect His character. How would God respond to a toddler who is getting out tons of toys while you are trying to get everybody out to the car to go somewhere? With “What are you doing??? We just picked up all the toys! Now the house is a mess again!” Ohhhhh, probably not. When I thought this week about how to reflect God’s character, it quickly changed what I view as important. Being kind to my children became a lot more important than keeping the house orderly.
- Because God commands me to patiently minister to those who are foolish, knowing that I am a sinner myself (Titus 3:2-3 and 2 Tim. 2:24-26)
- Because God created them exactly the way He wanted to; they are His creation (Psalm 139)
- Because it brings glory to God when I obey His command to love, and His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)
I think that this last one is another big one. Nothing will zap your energy in parenting more than attitude. When we are loving our children in order to honor God, they are not a burden. Approaching parenting with the correct attitude ensures that it is not burdensome.
What does this look like? I think that it means recognizing that God is sovereign over the events of each day, and He is wise and He is good, and He will provide the strength needed for each new challenge. It means starting the day after a night of very little sleep by thanking God – there are always things to be thankful for – and by choosing not to dwell on being tired. Expecting to feel horrible because you are so tired will just ensure that you do!
One verse that I have learned a lot from is 1 Corinthians 10:13 “ No temptation has overtaken you but such as in common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
I learned this verse as a young girl and always associated it with “Sunday School answer” type temptations – being tempted to lie, steal, etc., but I realized that this verse is also teaching that God will not allow us to go through any situation that is so difficult that we cannot respond in a way that honors Him. Child that won’t sleep? He will provide the ability to not be frustrated or angry. Child that won’t eat? He will provide the grace to respond with trust instead of anxiety.
During the newborn season, make the decision to enjoy your days. People will tell you all the time, “Enjoy them now because they grow up so fast!” You’ll probably get tired of hearing this, but it is true that they grow up fast … and it’s Biblical to enjoy them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Well, I’ve been talking about seasons, and here is what the current season looks like in my house: I am balancing a busy 9 month old baby who is into absolutely everything with homeschooling a first grader and training a 3 year old who is just a tad stubborn and prone to temper tantrums. In this season, we are all about survival. We pretty much stay home every day, and focus on eating three meals and keeping everyone in clean clothes. Feeding Owen is a whole other matter requiring a lot of time and various “drink your milk” songs that I have made up for him. After eating and clothing, we try to keep the house as sanitary and orderly as possible and maybe even do a little school. I spend a lot of time fishing things out of Owen’s mouth, tying blankies around the boy’s necks to be capes, and admiring whatever weapon they just built out of tinker toys. Sometimes in the evenings, I think about the next day and wonder how I can possibly handle another day of this without going crazy, but then I remember that in the midst of the graham cracker crumbs and dirty diapers and dirt tracked across the floor that three little people are learning the words to great hymns of the faith. They are memorizing verses of Scripture that will probably stay with them the rest of their lives. They are learning foundational truths about who God is and how to interpret the world in light of that truth. A lot of great learning goes on in the midst of the mundane. God has set up families for discipleship to take place. I have realized that I am in a position of tremendous influence, and I don’t want to waste this time burdening myself by dwelling on the difficulty of the season we are in.
As you head into a new season in your family, make the most of your newborn days! With each of my three, they were suddenly not newborns anymore, and I wished that I had taken more pictures and held them more. Owen is so wiggly now and won’t let me hold him, and I miss the newborn days!
I want to close with Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
I think that as moms we could paraphrase it this way, “I know how to get along with a fussy baby who sleeps poorly, and I also know how to live with a baby who eats and sleeps well. I have learned the secret of being well rested and exhausted, both of having my sanity and being stretched to the limit. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”