Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lessons from the First Year

I think this whole time of reflection started a few days ago when I talked with a sweet friend who just had her first child. Her husband is deployed to Iraq and so she will be doing the first month or so alone. After I got off the phone with her I begin to pray for her and I was reminded of my first few months with Jake and all that I learned. Oh the first year of parenting was such a HIGH learning curve. For the first time I have been handed the responsibility of a life. I had the highest of hopes that I was going to do this right. So I read all the books - Babywise, The baby whisper, Shepherding a Child's Heart and I don't know the host of all the others - most were not age appropriate which ended in information overload. From all the hoopla I read as well as my own experience, below are the things that stuck 5 years later. I still pass on and return to as my own stakes of God's faithfulness in certain times.
1. God gave you a mother's instinct to parent ____ (Insert your child's name). No one else has this instinct. Continually ask God to help you use it wisely.
My first pediatrician in Orlando told me this about Jake and till this day I pass it on to new moms. I can't tell you the times that this statement has given me confidence till this day to do what I feel in my gut and to trust it is from the Lord.
2. Considering the first 3 months a 4th trimester for my babies, made life so much richer for the rest of my first year.
In the book The Baby Whisper she talks about this 4th trimester. It made so much sense to me. Imagine being in a warm, quite, dark, secure place for 9 months of your life (isolation have you), and then you are thrown back into the "normal" things of this world. You would need time to adjust and you would need people to be extra sensitive to your needs. People would not expect someone to fit into the routines of daily life as soon as they re-entered society after 9 months of isolation. So how did this play out for me. I gave both of my boys the first 3 months to adjust to life. I did not swing to the side of complete attachment, nor did I do the other extreme of babywise. I held my babies a lot, rocked them to sleep sometimes, I did not let the cry it out, if they seemed really hungry before the time to eat I feed them. They slept in their own bed unless they were having a bad night and then I put them in the bed with me. I did all that I could to help that little boy adjust to this world. Don't hear me say that they never cried - they did. Brady almost the whole 3 months. But my mentality was what was the point. I gave them the first 3 months to adjust and gave them as much help as they needed. I strongly believe that as parents our worlds should not revolve around our children. They need to learn to be a part of a family and that life is not all about them. But the Scriptures tell us that there is a time for everything. Some times life must be about them. It is just a beginning of a life of dying to myself. (don't hear me wrong here. I don't disagree with the principles taught in babywise. I used them with my children. The problem with it is that many mom's hear "sleep through the night in xxx weeks" and make that their end game. When this was orginally released, the american academy of peds issued a statement saying they did not condone these practices and that their rate of infant malnurioushment had increased drastically as a result of this book. Many babies do great with the initial scheduling and the sleep easily from the get go. Many and most do not. This is where we as moms need to see this as a season of extreme selflessness and help our babies adapt to this world. Our heavenly Father is very gracious with new believers because we are learning to handle solids but for a time can only handle milk. We too, have to have this mentality with our little ones. But like God, there comes a time when they need to move on to solids. This calls for discernement. As God and he will give it to you)
3. The 4th month, they integrate :)
This is the month that I really begin enforcing a schedule. They begin to learn that life is not always going to revolve around them. But the truth is, they have for the most part slide into a healthy schedule themselves with a little help for me. This is the month that I taught my boys how to put themselves to sleep. As we approached this month I would lay them down awake sometimes to start the process. I remember the week I started this with Jake. I sat on the couch and cried the whole time he cried. It broke my heart but I knew it was the best thing for him for the long run of his life. As I sat there, God reminded me of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. I wrote the following in Jake's journal as I sat on that couch crying:
What is best for a child is not always what is easiest. Easy develops no discipline and discipline is necessary to "run the race." When Paul ask God to remove the thorns from his side, he cried out to God and pleaded with him but the Lord still said no, not because He didn't love Paul, nor because He lacked compassion for him (scripture indicates otherwise) but because He was his Father and he knew what was best for Paul as a whole and for the long run. It would save you and me both many tears if I walk in and pick you up but I know that in the long run it will pay off. I also realize that to be a parent to you the way God called me to be there will be many more times I have to sit by and choose to do the hard thing. Always know that it is because I love you dearly just as the Father loves us dearly and He disciplines those he loves.
4. I held my babies - ALOT and I am so glad I did
Lots of the books say that you will spoil a child if you don't teach him from the beginning. They say put them down often. An older mom told me this one - one day very soon they will not want you to hold them anymore and it will happen sooner than you think. Those cuddle days will pass so I enjoyed them and I am so glad I did.
5. My little bundles of joy will grow up and move out but my husband will not.
My marriage has always remained a priority. This meant that my kids took their naps and went to bed at a decent hour so that we could protect our time together. Sure there are lots of time that he is not the top priority (gauged by time). But none the less, we made decisions from the get go to protect our time and marriage. God has called me to be a wife first - not a mom.

These are the top lessons I learned during my first year. There are tons more but this is enough for now. Many moms have done it differently and it worked for them. I don't claim to know the right answers but I feel convicted to share my journey. This is my heart. A mentor told me to cling to 1 Tim 4:12 - " Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I covet the women who have shared their life and lessons with me because it is how I have learned. God's word instructs us to pass on what we know. I think so many mom's fall under the fear of I haven't done it all right and so I have nothing to share. That is a lie. That is exactly what Satan would want you to believe. I am still learning and will be till the day I day. I have made TONS of wrong decisions but it is good to learn from the mistakes of others. By God's grace alone will my children turn out ok. I won't take credit for their good because HE must increase and I must decrease!!! As I share my life and lessons, I give all Glory to God for in Him all wisdom and knowledge rest.


Laura said...

As usual, your advise is both wise, and heeded by this mom time and again. you are awesome and i am thankful you are my friend.

Laura said...

is it an apron?

the word verification says it's a lion, but, that's not right...

Shay said...

I love, love, love your blog. Thank you for continually sharing your wisdom. It blesses and encourages me so much. Let's catch up sometime. Keep it coming.