Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

I Take Everything You Say with a Grain of Salt

October 1st, 2019

For another month here, I have four children four and under (plus one in the oven).

Two in diapers, one in the middle of potty training, one potty trained with not-infrequent accidents.

I have three children who can turn on the sink faucet, two who can turn it off. All four can climb to get their hands under the faucet and splash water over the entire room (and beyond).

I have four children capable of pulling clothes out of drawers and dragging them through messes. None of them can wash, dry, fold, and put away those clothes.

I have four children who need fed four times a day. None of those children can provide any meaningful help in the kitchen.

This is an exhausting season.

I’m clinging to the idea that it’s just a season.

One day, these children will be able to consistently go potty in the potty chair and be able to wipe properly once they’re done.

One day they’ll all be able to turn off the faucet after washing their hands AND they’ll be able to clean up the water they spilled on the floor.

One day, they’ll be able to do their own laundry – and if they don’t do it I can let them deal with the natural consequences of their inaction.

One day, I’ll be able to send them off to the kitchen to tend the oatmeal in the morning or to reheat the leftovers at noon or to prepare tea in the afternoon. One day I can turn over even some dinners to the children.

These days of doing everything for everyone are numbered.

That’s what I’m telling myself.

But so many of you other mothers say “It only gets harder” and “just wait until they’re teenagers.”

I try to smile politely, but I just can’t believe it’s true. Sure, the rest of parenting isn’t a walk in the park, but it can’t be like this or worse for twenty years.

And then a fellow mother of many, a dozen years beyond me in the parenting journey, asked me how I was doing. I told her a bit about how hard right now is, how I feel like all I can do is put one foot in front of the other, trusting God to carry me through the next hour (sometimes even just the next minute).

She said she remembers that. When she had five under seven, it felt that way. And then, somewhere along the way, the children started to be able to do some things for themselves, started to be able to actually help. And it’s not just making it through the next hour for her anymore.

I could have cried with relief. Someone to confirm that the hope I’ve been holding on to isn’t a vain one.

Now, maybe it’s just confirmation bias. I want to hear what this woman had to say and I don’t want to hear what all those other mothers have to say about it only getting harder.

But the reality is that the mothers who were telling me it only gets harder? They’re mothers of two, three or four years apart. They haven’t experienced the utter exhaustion of having five little humans completely dependent on them for every aspect of their care.

So forgive me that I take what you say with a grain of salt while I cling on to every drop of encouragement that falls from the mouths of the women who’ve done this “many small children at once” thing.

It’s not that I don’t love you and value your input – it’s just that this crazy life my family is living right now is a whole ‘nother ball game.

It’s changed me – and I wouldn’t change a thing

June 11th, 2019

I once read an article about how the experience of infertility changes the experience of motherhood.

As a mother of two preemies, one “post-dates” baby, and three foster children (one at a time) – and as a woman who has now experienced miscarriage – I have to say that this too changes the experience of motherhood.

I thank God almost every day for each additional day each of my children got in the womb. For almost a month for Tirzah Mae after my blood pressure went high. For two additional weeks in the womb for Louis (compared to Tirzah Mae). For a staggering 8 additional weeks in the womb for Beth-Ellen (compared to Louis). I thank God for the things we could have experienced but didn’t in the NICU, for the things we could have experienced but didn’t regarding our children’s development.

And more and more, I thank God that I experienced two c-sections, that I have had rough pregnancies and rough postpartums, that I had children who didn’t sleep, that I have had to say goodbye to three children. Because each of those children have simultaneously been an evidence of grace (EOG) and an agent of sanctification (AOS).

I wouldn’t change a thing, even on the days when I’m singing my newest song:

(to the tune of “You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder)

You are an agent of sanctification
God’s using you to make me holy
You are an agent of sanctification
God has put you in my life

And when I feel that I am. so. done.
I’m thanking God that he is no-o-o-ot

Preemies. Post-dates. C-sections. A vaginal delivery. Prolapse. Sleepless nights. Disrupted routines. Lots of young children. Saying goodbye when we’ve planned to say goodbye. Saying goodbye when we were hoping for a lifetime. None of these things are easy.

But easy isn’t how we learn to rely on God. Easy isn’t how we become like him.

Praise God that he hasn’t let me live the easy dream. He’s making me holy, teaching me to trust.

These things have absolutely changed my experience of motherhood. And though I’m crying even now thinking of the dreams we’ve lost, I’m crying too for the things we’ve gained. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Even when I am. so. done.

God is not.

All I Want for Mother’s Day

May 9th, 2019

Mother’s Day approaches, which means everyone and their mother is opining about what you should give your mother.

I was scrolling past headlines when I saw “What your mother really wants for Mother’s Day” – and I suddenly knew exactly what I want.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
~3 John 4 (ESV)

This is what I want, but it’s not something my husband can get for me. It’s not something my children can make happen on their own.

This requires an act of God.

So instead of writing an article for the nearest mom’s blog (or sending a link to one of those articles to my husband), I’ll be lifting up my request to God, as I do each day.

Lord, let my children – my Tirzah Mae and my Louis, my Beth-Ellen and my sweet P, our precious C and darling J – let them walk in the truth. Grant that their affections would be stirred toward you, that they would desire relationship with you. Grant that they would see the desperate wickedness of their hearts and their utter helplessness to change themselves. Grant that they might fall upon the mercy of Christ and walk in the way of the One who is Truth.

And if you want to give me a Mother’s Day gift, join me in praying for these six God has given me (for short or for long), that they would walk in the truth.

The Prayer I Keep Coming Back To

January 14th, 2019

Last year, in an effort to strengthen my prayer life, I searched for lists of “things to pray for your children.”

I dutifully recorded the lists in my prayer app (PrayerMate) and began praying for each of my children in each of the suggested categories.

The app would tell me to pray for Tirzah Mae’s future – and so I would. “Oh Lord, grant that my daughter would have a future among those who fear you. May she know your salvation and cling to you as her only hope.”

The app would tell me to pray for Louis’s purity – and so I would. “Oh Lord, would you grant that my son would be pure in heart – that he would have the purity of heart that can only come by being washed in the blood of Christ.”

The app would tell me to pray for Beth-Ellen’s health – and so I would. “Lord, would you bring my dead daughter to life by your Spirit.”

And on and on.

Character. “Lord, would you draw my children to yourself. Bring them to life through the work of your Spirit and cause them to grow in Christ-likeness.”

Holy Desires. “Above all, would you awaken their affection for you, that they might desire your salvation and recognize their own inability to save themselves. Grant that they might fall upon the mercy of Christ.”

Salvation.

It’s the prayer I keep coming back to. May my children desire relationship with God. May they see their sinfulness. May they see the worthlessness of their own striving. May they fall upon the mercy of Christ. May they grow in the grace of the gospel.

Save my children, O Lord, I pray.

Will it mess up my kids?

August 6th, 2018

As we’ve added to our family and as our family has grown older, I’ve discovered that my parenting toolbox is pretty limited. I’ve tried to add to that toolbox by doing some reading on parenting.

Many of the resources I’ve read have offered helpful tools to add to my toolbox. For that, I am grateful. But almost all have come with a healthy unhealthy helping of guilt.

Do it our way, they say, or you’ll mess up your kids.

You’ll mess up your kids if you spank. You’ll mess up your kids if you spare the rod. You’ll mess up your kids if you do time-outs. You’ll mess up your kids if you do star charts. You’ll mess up your kids if you don’t teach them to sleep on their own. You’ll mess up your kids if you let them cry it out.

And every time I read these books, I wonder if I’ve been doing it all wrong. In particular, they make me wonder if the specific parenting choices I’ve made at one time or another are wrong.

Are my children going to struggle for the rest of their lives because I sleep-trained them?

Are they going to struggle to connect with others because I sent them to their room to be punished instead of bringing them close for a cuddle instead?

Are they going to internalize the idea that they’re bad people because I’ve spanked them?

The doubts rise and then I push back. Yes, there is a such thing as abusive parenting. There are better parenting techniques and worse ones. But I reject the premise that every problem in our adult lives is a result of our parents’ doing (or not doing) x.

And then I realize that the real problem with the guilt the books are giving rise to, the real problem with feeling guilty over sleep training or time-outs or spanking – the real problem is that I’m letting the debate over technique distract me from the real issue in parenting.

The real issue, nine times out of ten, is my own heart.

The issue is that I am unloving, impatient, lacking in self-control. It is that I am vengeful, irritable, and selfish. It is that I am ungrateful and unforgiving.

And this issue cannot be solved by just snuggling my kids more or by resolving to not put my kids in time-out. This problem cannot be solved by healing the hurts of my past or by psychoanalyzing my parents.

This issue can only be resolved through repentance and reliance upon God to change my heart.

Rachel Jancovich’s Loving the Little Years is serving as a helpful tool to pull me away from these side issues and to bring me back to my own heart.

“As you deal with your children,” she writes, “deal with yourself always and first.”

I’ve summarized her thought in a single word that I’m reminding myself of frequently (and attempting to put into practice):

Repent.

Because the issue isn’t whether I’m going to mess my children up. The issue is my heart.

You have to have something for you

July 30th, 2018

In our recent conversation about homeschooling, my mom stated that “you have to have something for you”.

Then she elaborated. “Intercessory prayer was that for me. And when you all were very young, Agape Handmaidens.”

That was about the extent of that bit of advice. But don’t let the brevity distract you from the wisdom.

Mom was telling me not to forget self-care. This is good. This was good for me to hear from my mother. Because self-care is a buzzword in today’s mommy-world and I’m often quick to dismiss it (out of distrust for anything popular in the parenting world).

But Mom’s elaboration also emphasized the difference between the popular conception of self-care and Mom’s conception of it.

Popular self-care involves manicures and pedicures, massages and spa days, hotel stays. Lots of money. Lots of time. Lots more money for babysitters.

Mom’s self-care was intercessory prayer: spending a couple hours a week praying for others with others, while we kids were babysat (when we were very young) or played independently in our pastor’s basement. Agape Handmaidens? One morning a month the ladies of the church got together to work on hand-work while the children were babysat. Mom often brought laundry to fold while she chatted with the other ladies.

That’s it. That was her self-care.

For this time-starved, uber-frugal mama, that’s exactly what I need to hear.

I do need to have something for me. Taking the time to prepare for and go to Tuesday Connection, our ladies’ Bible study at church, is important. Having that conversation with adults? That’s important.

But I don’t need to feel guilty that I’m not spending lots of money and lots of time doing those things that seem to me like pointless indulgences.

More what?

July 25th, 2018

We were having plums for lunch, so it was perfectly reasonable that Tirzah Mae started to chant “More nectarines!”

I gave her a slice of plum. “Here is some plum.”

Then Louis began the chant. “More Macarena!”

I sighed. “Yes, you can have more plums.”

And then Tirzah Mae began again. “More macaroni and cheese.”

I give up. The silliness index is off the charts.

Separating “I wish I could have” from “I wish I had”

July 18th, 2018

When I was in Lincoln last month, I asked my mother about homeschooling. Specifically, I asked her what advice she would have given twenty-seven-year-old her as she embarked on her homeschool journey.

She had a hard time coming up with an answer because, she told me, “There are things I wish I could have done, but they just weren’t possible.”

She wishes she could have taken more field trips with us. But she had seven children in ten years – and taking those field trips just wasn’t possible.

She wishes she could have provided more opportunities for certain of my siblings to follow their interests more. But those things just weren’t possible in the circumstances she and we were in.

So she did what she could.

Even though that statement wasn’t advice, per se, I found in it a useful principle.

It’s valuable to separate the “I wish I could have” from the “I wish I had”.

Maybe I wish I could do x, y, or z but time, money, or energy makes it impossible.

I wish I could have taken my older littles to baby storytime at the library – but they were NICU babies and needed to avoid other kids.

That’s a clear cut one. Others aren’t so obvious, but they’re there anyway.

I wish I could do more outings with the children period – but I’m a homebody and I get really crabby at my children if I’m running all day. In this season of intensive mothering, limiting our time outside the house to two days during the week keeps me sane and enables me to manage myself and treat my children with compassion (most of the time).

Sometimes, I need to let go of the things I wish I could have done. I need to let go of the dreams I had of being this or that sort of mother.

I need to do what I can, not be forever regretting what I can’t (or being a terrible mother in the now because I’m doing something I really shouldn’t).

Side note: Lest you get the wrong impression, 27 is what my mother would have been (give or take) when she was in my situation child-wise. I got started quite a bit later and am definitely *not* in my 20s any more :-)

Learning to say “Please”

May 4th, 2018

Tirzah Mae and I just happen to be learning the same lesson these days. Now that she is three, and now that I have three children, we’re learning to say “please”.

Tirzah Mae is learning to say “please” as an alternative to making demands. I’m learning to say “please” as an alternative to “No, I’ve got this.”

For Tirzah Mae, learning to say please is about reorienting her natural ego-centrism that thinks the world should jump at her beck and call. Instead of “give me some water”, she’s learning to say “May I have some water, please?”

For me, learning to say please is about reorienting my natural pride that thinks I should be able to be self-sufficient. Instead of, “No, thanks, I can handle everything myself”, I’m learning to say, “Yes, please, I can’t do it on my own.”

So, when the nurse offers to push the stroller when I’m rounding up the children for our doctor’s appointment?

Yes, please.

When the library assistant offers to continue checking out my books while I take a newly potty-trained little one to the bathroom?

Yes, please.

When a fellow library patron offers to put my books in the bag so I can soothe the baby that’s beginning to fuss in her sling?

Yes, please.

When the lady at the grocery store offers a hand when I’m juggling kids and groceries and a phone call?

Yes, please.

It’s a lesson I think I’m learning just in time – because three is becoming four. We’ll soon have a little guy joining our family, for as long as he needs us.

Which means I need to step up my “please” game and ask for help instead of just accepting it.

Please pray for us as we open our home and our hearts to this precious little one. Please pray that the gospel would grow deep in our hearts and in his as we seek to practically minister the gospel to him.

Mornings at Prairie Elms

April 20th, 2018

There’s a baby giraffe and a baby hippo on the side patio, which makes today the perfect day for Louis to finally be strong enough to open the patio door. I shut it tight and hold it while trying to decide whether I should call the zoo or animal control. Who does one call when exotic animals are loose?

Tirzah Mae flicks on the overhead light, awakening me from my dilemma. I fear she’s also awakened Beth-Ellen – but Beth-Ellen’s belly is still full from her dawn feeding a half-hour prior, so she settles back down in her bassinet after a few kicks to make sure mama’s fully awake.

I get out of bed to turn off the light – and lead the naked Tirzah Mae to the laundry room for some clean panties. “There aren’t any panties in my drawer,” she gave as an explanation for turning on my light. “And the music is off.” Technically, the “music off” rule is for rest time – she’s supposed to stay in bed in the morning until the sun comes up. But morning comes earlier to her east-facing bedroom than to my north-facing one, and I see that she hasn’t broken the “sun-comes-up” rule.

Louis lets out a single pitiful “help” and I get him out of his crib. He and I head back to my bed, where Tirzah Mae joins us as soon as she is dressed. Why do I persist in getting back to bed once they’re up, I wonder. It’s not like I’m going to get any more sleep.

While I’m fumbling with the key to get out my medicine, they’re arguing over who gets to be next to mama.

By the time I’m done taking my medicine, Louis has moved on to repairing the headboard with his “impact driver” (a small water gun). Unfortunately, the repairs that need to be done are directly over Tirzah Mae’s head, which is currently nestled in my right armpit – and under Louis’s foot.

I start to intervene with the usual “don’t step on your sister” rule when the impact driver drops below the bed.

“Saved!” I think, as Louis moves to the side to find something else to do with his relentless energy. But then Tirzah Mae begins to cry. She really wanted the impact driver herself and now it’s gone.

Five minutes later, I’m putting a mallet in time out because it was being naughty and hitting someone’s head.

I give up on trying to take my blood pressure and get out of bed instead.

Louis had not yet started trying to open the little plastic packages mama keeps in her bedside table. We were ahead for the morning – best to get out of bed and keep it that way.

Browse bekahcubed:


Search bekahcubed:


Contact bekahcubed:

b3master@menterz.com

Get my button:

bekahcubed button

Popular Tags:


I participate in:


Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge
L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge
What's on Your Nightstand?
-->