i say this all the time, both in person, on the phone and in emails. and i mean it. one thing i'm really passionate about, is women taking care. i think we are so nurturing, as women, that a lot of times, we don't take care of ourselves. we're too busy taking care of everyone else. a few months ago, i received an email from a young mom. she wrote that she really enjoyed my blog (thanks!) and requested that i do a post for young moms. i read it and as i considered it, i realized that i was resisting it, mainly because i didn't want to sound like a know-it-all, but also because i didn't think i had much of value to share. fast forward to today. as you know, if you read my daily blatherings, i start my day with Bible reading and prayer. almost invariably, the Lord *gives* me something to say, while i am praying. sometimes, i think, "really?", but i try to just go with it. today, as i was praying, the thought of young moms came to me. and i had all these thoughts and realized that i did have a few things to say, and hopefully i can say them with a gentle tone, not a know-it-all tone.
the *i wish i had known then, what i know now, b* list on parenting
- not to lose myself in my kids. i think the minute i saw my new baby(ies), i just forgot myself. i was SO into them, that i forgot i was still me. i just loved them so much. in hindsight, i think that was a disservice to them. not the loving them so much, but the losing myself. everything i did for many years, was about them. i didn't even think of it as a sacrifice. it was just a non-issue that their needs, activities, whatever-were above anything i might need or want. not great for a marriage to have that attitude either. i think it's a very fine balance, to keep yourself alive, while investing in raising children.
- document these years. and not as an invisible, behind the camera parent. i think i may have 3 photos of me with my kids when they are young. and all 3 are posed. i really regret this. i wish i wouldn't have balked when someone tried to take a photo of me interacting with my kids. if i didn't feel like i looked my best, i would try to avoid it. but honestly, it was rare that anyone even tried. so, learn from my mistake. hand your camera to someone while you are playing with your kids, or reading to them or snuggling. don't be shy. and trust me, if you think you look bad now, wait 20 years! you'll realize how good you really looked!
- when your kids reach teenage years, pray, even more. if i had figured this out sooner, i would have avoided a lot of anxiety. even the best, least rebellious kids have to become independent, so they aren't going to always look to you for answers. and if you have a rebellious child, it's going to hurt. i'm not gonna lie. there is no way to NOT have an emotional reaction to this. but the sooner you realize that it's natural, and that they aren't going to hate you forever, the less it hurts.
- let them make messes. and when people stop by and see the messes, don't worry about what they're thinking, because if they're like me, they're probably thinking, "how awesome is that? they are actually letting them be kids".
- worry less about being their friends, just be their parent. that's what they need. i think i was too insecure at the time, to really believe this.
- resist the urge to do everything for them. i think in an effort to be a *good* parent, i thought i had to be *doing* things for them.
- try not to feel sorry for them. when a kid sees you feeling sorry for them, i think it makes them feel insecure. ex: you see another kid picking on your kid-of course, you're going to want to step in and defend them and then scoop them up in your arms and coddle them. not a good plan. let them figure out that they are strong enough to stand up for themselves. i think pity makes them weak.
- let them experience injustice while they're with you. don't try SO hard to make everything fair. tom and i recently had a discussion about this. life isn't fair, so why do parents try so hard to teach kids that it is? if we would let them experience unfairness under our roofs, maybe they would handle injustice later in life better? just a thought.
- hire a babysitter. and don't feel guilty. if you find a great sitter, it will be a good thing for your kids and for you, and if you're married, for the marriage too. i almost preach this to family and friends. not because i did it, but because i wish i had.
- let them suffer consequences. i didn't do real well with this one. but as time went on, i got better. i took a parenting class at church that really drove this point home. if you don't, they won't learn how to deal. they'll basically suck at life. ha, just kidding.
- not to beat myself up so much. i was so hard on myself as a parent. i thought i was messing my kids up constantly. i would read a parenting book and feel like a complete failure.
a couple of things i think i did right:
- i spent tons of time doing things with my kids. we read, we went to the park, we walked, rode bikes, i played baseball, football, soccer, volleyball, etc....with the whole neighborhood, i took them camping by myself(eek!), we picnicked a lot, we did art, and we always had a Christmas gingerbread house making party. i think i did a lot of things right, but i also think that the reason my kids are awesome adults(is that bragging?), has WAY more to do with God's grace, than with my parenting. tom and i love to hang out with our adult kids. they are some of our best friends.
i think forgiving myself for the mistakes i made as a parent, was one of the hardest things for me. empty nest was tough too...because of some of my mistakes. now, i find it so hard to not try to warn my friends, and even our kids with their parenting. but i know, that i need to watch how i talk. i don't want anyone to think that i think i did it all right. it's not that. it's that i want to warn other women not to lose themselves. i see women heading in that direction and it scares me, for them. but i know it's hard to hear. you don't want to hear it. so i try to speak carefully and i definitely don't want to sound judgemental. i just want to save them from heartache. mothering is such a bittersweet life calling. it's the best and the worst all in one. simply because, even though you're a mom for the rest of your life, your role in their daily lives isn't forever.
maybe because of my perspective and regrets, it enables me to capture what i missed with my own kids, as far as photos. (how's this for a transition?) i try to capture the essence of relationships. not just the posed, smiling faces.
i had a shoot saturday morning with the sweetest family. they obviously adore one another.
isn't he adorable? when i saw him with his blonde curls- i couldn't wait to start the shoot! he just turned 3, and he did so well!
this post is becoming an epic! a couple more things. i know of two really great scrapbooking things that are happening today. check them out-
- sistv free shipping on orders over $50 and a free bottle of glimmer mist with each order. plus there are fun activities on the site all day, including *an online slumber party* tonight. i used the new collection called girly girl for these two layouts-
the felt flowers are my fave!
- it kit studio kelly is having a really great moving sale! check it out.
last thing. our area had a couple of tragic events over the weekend. a terrible storm, with high winds came through and destroyed crops, trees and homes friday night. the lake we used to live at, was hit hard. they aren't even letting people drive through. people we know who live there, say it looks like a war zone. lots of people are still without power. so please pray for everyone effected by this horrible storm. also, please pray for the chapman family. they were on their harley and the back tire blew friday night. jill was killed and bill was injured. my heart just goes out to bill and the kids, their friends and family. i don't even know what else to say. i know that i am not taking today for granted. and i pray that God blesses your day.