How to be a better mother.

It's Good to be Queen
even the Queen makes mistakes...right?

I bet that you wish becoming better at motherhood was as easy as reading a blog post.

I do too.

Sadly, our sinful nature does not allow us to to be the moms we envision. You know what I’m talking about. I envision myself as a sort of June Cleaver in 2010. (If June Cleaver would wear Birkenstocks, and ditch the pearls.)

I an ideal world my house would be clean and I would not yell. Not only would I serve well balanced, nutritious meals; they would taste good and the kids would like them. My children would not fight. My dog would put himself in the kennel every night. My babies would sleep through the night.

Instead, I yell. My house is never 100% clean. I serve healthy food but it does not always go over well. My children fight like it is their job. Not even my dog listens to me. And lastly, those babies do not and will not sleep through the night.

Does this make me a bad mom?

Well, to see it in black and white, the answer is a ┬áresounding yes. I am unable to achieve even a portion of what the “good wife” in Proverbs 31 seems to get done in a day. When I examine myself I am lazy and flawed.

Do you want to know the good news?

I don’t have to be a perfect mother. (yep…that’s right…)

In spite of (all of my many) imperfections, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me (and you!) so much that he gave up His (very perfect) Son so that all of our imperfections (we call them sin around here) can be forgiven!

Each day is new.

Each morning I can wake up and try (and fail) again.

I had a dear friend (and much better mother than me) post a simple prayer on my Facebook page this morning. She said “Lord, please help me to be a better mom today.” I know that God answers prayer. I see answers to my prayers all around me every day.

So, thanks Lisa, for reminding me of the very best way to become a better mother…start with prayer and ask for help!


Life is Funny

I remember, when we were first married (fifteen years ago, next month!), and then found out shortly afterwards that we were pregnant. Everything seemed overwhelming. I was so excited to become a mother, but so afraid to make mistakes.

I’m a realist. I knew that I was going to mess up, I was just praying that my goof ups would be minor.
I brought Andrew home from the hospital (looking over my shoulder, sure that a nurse would “reclaim” him), and sat down in my rocking chair, and nursed him for the first time in our little apartment, and a wave of dread washed over me. I realized that I was going to have to nurse this stranger 8-12 times a day for much of the not so distant future. Little did I know that nursing would be the easy part. Later would come the tough choices, whether to immunize, and what against. How to educate him. What sport if any to encourage. Sunblock or hat.
Every day I came across decisions I never thought I would have to make, and hardly felt adult enough to make. My mom was there for a week. I was thankful for the help. In some ways though, our relationship complicated things. She wanted what was best for me and her first grand baby, but she was not the mom. I wanted what was best, but did not always know what the best was. Sometimes our theories on parenting meshed, other times they clashed.
That first child, my now teenage son (who is fabulous), was a grand experiment. Some things I never did repeat. I took the advice to let him cry it out in his crib. It was torture for me, and him, and none of us slept. I ditched that advice. I’m sure it does work for some, but they either have larger houses than me, or a stronger will. Some things I carried through with all six of the kids. All of my children have been breastfed. Most of them have worn cloth diapers at least part time. I have spent hour upon hour reading and singing to all of my children.
Some things get easier. Once some of the big decisions are made for a first child, you hardly think them over again. Breastfeeding to me is second nature, and I can’t imagine a different feeding route for my children. Rocking my children to sleep is more of a privilege and less of a chore. After several children, I have learned that ALL kids eventually learn to fall asleep. Some take longer than others, and some like to sleep in odd places, but all of them eventually sleep.
Fifteen years ago, I THOUGHT that I wanted six children. Then I had one child, and I realized motherhood was tough. I was not sure how many children God would bless us with, but some days it felt like one was enough. It was hard to pay bills, I was not sleeping, and I worried about my sweet little boy. Through the years, our family grew, and grew, and grew. We even thought that we had grown as much as we would.
And then God decided to challenge me. He figured that I had learned all about boys. He also figured that one baby girl would not give me the full experience. So he gave me two! And now this self professed “boy mom”, this pants wearing, ribbon and bow avoiding, tights fearing woman has a room bursting with pink and ribbons and frills and tights. And you know what?
God is good. All the time.
He is good when I am blessed with one son. He is good when he blesses me with four sons. He is even good when he blesses me with two daughters at once.
A friend today was telling me about a t-shirt that said “singletons are for wimps”. I had a chuckle at that. It is true. God knew EXACTLY when I could handle the joy of mothering a set of multiples. It was not 15 years ago, or even five years ago. He knew that I was ready before I even knew.
I think I’m doing OK. I’ve had to rewrite my own parenting manual. I still won’t let my kids cry in the crib. This gets me a bit less sleep than others, but I’m still sleeping more than when I was pregnant! I’m figuring out how to give each girl what she needs, when she needs it, and to still have time to love on and guide our sons.
God did not want me to think that I knew it all. He likes to give me challenges.
I bet he does the same for you as well. Has God been stretching you lately? Has He been asking you to step outside of your preconceived notions about something? Has He managed to change your mind?
I’d love to hear about it.

My Boys

I love to stand back and observe the boys. I prefer to do it when they don’t know I’m looking. Then I play a little game…I like to try and figure out where every goofy mannerism comes from. Sometimes I see a set of a jaw just like their father, sometimes I see a slight crossing of the eyes which comes from me. I watch them giggle at things that are not funny, me again. I watch them figure out complex problems and look pleased with themselves, definitely Dad.

These are enjoyable creatures that the Rev and I helped bring into the world. But oh my, some days I feel so pressured by the responsibility of it all, the fact that I have to try and make them into respectful, caring men, husbands, fathers. That is a HUGE job.

But you know what? I’m not in this alone. First off, God gave me my husband to father these boys. He does an incredible job. He can jump in just when I am ready to go into crazy mom mode. Sometimes he even jumps in long before I reach that point. He is an incredible and unselfish provider. He is a fabulous example of how to be caring, yet strong.

But, even if the Rev were not around, I would still not be alone in this feat. God promised that he is with me always. I remind you, and myself often, that people let me down. They really cannot help it. I let people down all the time. I am flawed. All of humanity is flawed. We are full of sin. We cannot escape it. Because of this sin, I will always be an imperfect mother, no matter how hard I try to achieve perfection, whatever that will look like. Thanks be to God, that he is perfect, and dependable, and steady and sure. He’s unchanging.

So, when I look at my boys, trying to see pieces of me and my husband in them, I hope to also see bits of their Heavenly Father in them as well. When I look at Andrew I see a staunchness and a firmness that I pray will keep him in his baptismal grace. When I look at William I see the kindness in his eyes, that comes from the compassion his Heavenly Father has. In Owen I see a yearning to know more of God, and an eagerness to tell others what he knows. And lastly, in Ethan I see the childlike, innocent faith that we all should have. He does not question, he just believes!