As a natural birth enthusiast (that is an understatement), during my pregnancies I can be a little too focused at times on the birth and not so much on the “what happens after baby comes” part. As a mom of three this is not as big a deal as when I was a first time mom. When I was a first time mom, I was shocked at how difficult it was getting adjusted to motherhood. For me, the love part was easy. I even had a natural maternal instinct, as most women do. But I just didn’t have the experience with all the things surrounding baby land. I just wanted to share a brief list, albeit confessional, of the things that I have struggled with as a new mom (and not just on my first).
1. Sleep Training is Hard!!!
Another huge understatement! I read nothing before my first son came, but quickly devoured a few popular books after I realized that babies didn’t, in fact, sleep like a baby (at least not after the first month). They all had a great theoretical solution, but add in two sleepy parents, a mother hyped up on hormones, and apartment living, and you can get pretty overwhelmed pretty quickly.
This is not the part where I tell you the answer to all your babies sleep problems. This is the part where I tell you that you will learn, your baby will learn, and you will get sleep again! Plus, the next time you dare to have a baby, you will have a easier time at it. I have three sons that sleep and nap happily and are no worse for the wear because of my blunders in sleep training.
2. Breastfeeding can be challenging!
I actually am one of those people who never had difficulty breastfeeding initially. It never hurt, my milk was good, etc. Most women are not so fortunate and experience difficulty getting baby to latch along with serious breast pain. On top of these issue, many women don’t get the support they need and when a mom that is wondering what the heck she is doing anyway starts to get push back to “just give him a bottle” she is likely to cave and then feels like a failure.
My first two experiences breastfeeding went great. I breastfed without a second though until 12 months. I didn’t own a pump, and I never had low supply. My third experience was a bit challenging. After an initial great start, I started having low supply. Baby boy was always fussy and I was without a doubt not producing very much. I ordered a free pump through my insurance and started pumping. I was getting practically nothing when pumping. I was very depressed and frustrated. I did not want to give up but I was desperate thinking I was starving my child with my persistence. Thankfully my sister, who was also nursing at the same time had pumped over a weekend out without baby and had a supply of milk she would probably never use. She generously gave it to me and it helped buy me some time to find the problem. It turns out that my nutrition was not complete. I am a very healthy eater (for the most part) but after doing some more reading I realized that I was protein deficient. I made the necessary corrections to my diet and my milk was up to great supply in no time, flat.
This is not the part where I tell you how to fix all your breastfeeding problems. This is the part where I tell you that you will learn, your baby will learn and no one will die of starvation in the process. Plus, all the things you learn in the process will make you a smarter more prepared person, mother, and friend.
3. Raising kids is tough!
I am not going to sit in any place saying how much I have “made it” in raising respectful, obedient, honest, kind all around perfect children. My oldest is only 4 years old and in the time it took me to write this post I have been yelled at “no”, seen one hit the other, played police man and lost my cool. I am working very hard at purposefully raising strong men with hearts after the Lord, but it is a serious work in progress, as I am also still a serious work in progress. I fail. They fail. We fail together.
There are a lot of opinions on how to raise your children both good and bad. Books, blogs, friends, family, strangers. It can seem like if you don’t have it all figured out on day one then you have already lost the battle. I used to never read to my first son. Heck, I probably very rarely spoke to my first son, when he was a baby. I didn’t really grasp the concept of talking in a one way conversation. But, by the time I had two, I was talking all the time to the first, so it seemed natural to talk to the second. I started reading to them after I finally realized how important it was, but it was well into my first son’s second year. I just in the last year started reading to them from the bible, and am just now teaching them chores. I did not and am not doing it “all” now. I am learning as I go, the same as them. I make it a point to always be bettering my parenting skills from reading select books and observing other mothers and fathers that are “seeming” to be doing a good job. But then, at the end of it, I have to find me. My way that fits with my personality and my goals as a parent.
This is not the part where I tell you how to raise perfect kids. This is the part where I tell you that you will learn, your kids will learn and in the process you will get better and better. Plus, all the mistakes you and your kids make in the process will just go to show us how much in need of a savior we are.
The three biggest lessons I have learned as a mother of three in 4 years are:
Never judge what you yourself have not experienced. I was a perfect childbirther until I went into labor, I was a perfect mother until I had kids, and I was a perfect Christian… I have never been a perfect Christian. Plus, comparison does nobody any good. You will end of either looking down on yourself or others.
2. Everything is a lesson
My exercise instructor quoted the other day a Mexican proverb:
“They wanted to bury us, but they forgot we are seeds.”
Don’t be buried by your problems. Grow from them.
3. We are all in need of a savior
Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned. You are a sinner. Your kids, believe it or not, are sinners.
“No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” … For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Find out more about salvation here)
Perfection cannot be the goal, because is cannot be achieved. The sooner you learn that without Christ, both ourselves and our children are doomed to failure. This is not bad new, but good news. That means we are off the hook from doing everything right all the time. That means God is the only one that can truly change us into His image. We are just the gap fillers in our kids lives until they are old enough to decide for themselves. He will give us the tools to train our children up, but He is ultimately the one to close the deal with them. So if you can only do one thing as a parent, it is to continually, lovingly point our children to Christ.
So lets go be great parents! Not because that statement actually describes our output, but because that statement describes our input.