Category Archives: Confessions

10 things I learned from 10 years of motherhood (Part 1)

This boy right here turned 10-whole-years-old yesterday.

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That means 10 whole years of mamahood for me.

And I really couldn’t be more thrilled with how he’s turning out. I think back to the day he was born, which is still so distinct in my memory (apparently, having your first kid leaves an impression), and I just laugh at my fumbling, overly strict, clueless self. And I cringe a little too.

I mean, when he was 5 days old, I sat beside him on the floor and jiggled his bouncer, talked to him, did EVERYTHING to calm him down from a screaming rage except pick him up…because it wasn’t “time” to feed him again yet (and he couldn’t possibly have just needed comfort, Abbie?). Who does that? Well, an earnest, nervous, 23-year-old first-time mama who has practically no experience with babies and who is convinced that if she feeds her baby “too early” he’ll be spoiled forever. OY. See? Cringe-worthy.

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Don’t worry. I figured out pretty quickly that this was not necessary, and I held him a whole lotBut there are still puh-lenty of things that I look back on now and wonder why I felt the need to be so uptight about it all. I’m also a little in awe of the fact that, even with all of my bumbling, Ezra has turned out as “normal” as he has so far. (I only use the quotations because the spectrum of normal is pretty wide these days, and he is delightfully “abnormal” in many excellent ways).

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Honestly, I think firstborns are testaments to God’s grace. To the fact that we can flub our way through a whole lot of situations–too lenient, too strict, too careful, too smothering, too free-spirited–and, if we keep coming back to the truth of God’s word, keep praying for them, keep training them up in the way they should go, they will–by the grace of God–survive our clumsy attempts at all of those motherhood firsts.

Ezra certainly has so far. Not only has he survived but he has blossomed into a joyful, handsome, helpful, godly young man. And I couldn’t be prouder to be his mama.

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Ezra and I are similar in lots of ways, but he’s about 10 times more sensitive than I am, and 4 times as kind (the two are probably connected). He’s a stickler for rules (so was I), a personal perfectionist in some areas and a bit lazy in others (yup, me too). He loves to read and makes good grades (just like me). He’s a bit of a know-it-all (ahem).

But where he deviates (in such a good way) is in his instinctive ability to relate to others’ suffering, to express compassion and empathy, to get down on a hurting person’s level and speak with gentleness and feeling. As you can imagine, little kids love him. Theo absolutely worships him and will even go to him from my arms (which is saying something because Theo is a major mama’s boy). In fact, there have been plenty of times when I’m getting ready to drop the hammer on the twins as they attempt to scratch each other’s eyes out, and I hear Ezra sweetly talking them off of their crazy ledges. Sometimes, the hammer is still necessary, but his gentler approach is such a great reminder to, as Titus 2:3 says: “Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

lessonsIn fact, while being a mother for a decade has taught me plenty more than one thing per year, the number seemed fitting, so here are 10 motherhood revelations I’ve had, in no particular order (and split into two posts because the word count was getting ridonkulous).

1. It’s called a phase for a reason (AKA: This too shall pass)

This has to be one of the most fundamental and yet profound truths of motherhood there is. No matter how maddening, infuriating, and patience-shredding a behavior your little angel might adopt, NEVER FEAR! She will move on to another equally soul-crushing habit eventually. Hmm…perhaps that didn’t come out as encouraging as I meant it to. But seriously, even though there will always be something to be frustrated by, chances are, it won’t always be THAT THING that you thought would never go away/change/resolve itself.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that bad habits respond well to passive parenting. You can/should definitely help your child work through his “issue,” but, chances are, you’ll probably have to ride out a fair bit of unavoidable angst as they get it out of their systems.

I remember reading a Facebook cry for help from a mama of littles whose children were doing something typically childish, and she ended with: “And DON’T tell me, ‘It’s just a phase!!!’” Because that’s the last thing you want to hear when you want instant relief from the kid who keeps going to the same corner and peeing in it every single day at 3 PM. But it’s the truth. Some day, barring a sensory problem or some other special need, he really will stop.

So…Hang. in. there.

Side note: sadly, this also applies to the cute phases. WHY can’t Simon still say “Weh-wah” instead of Ezra? Or Della still lean her head in to touch her forehead to mine when I tell her I love her like she did when she was 1? Or Theo continue to do every single thing that he’s currently doing because it’s completely and utterly Theodorable?

Because these, too, are just a phase. Hmph.

2. Potty training is not worth stressing over

Speaking of phases, I’ve talked several times here about Ezra’s year-long campaign against pooping. Not gonna lie. It was kind of miserable. But! It didn’t last forever (praise Jesus!), and, as a result of it, I learned not to sweat potty training too much. All of my children have been potty-trained between ages 2 1/2 and 3, with nothing more than repetition and training. No boot camps. No special tricks. (Nothing against them, though). Just repetition and reward. I still don’t feel like anything close to an expert. The twins practically potty-trained themselves. But! It did happen. Which gives me great confidence that, in Theo’s case, it will happen again. I am prone to stress about many things. After the debacle with Ezra, I refuse to let potty training be one of them.

3. It’s okay to admit you’re wrong

I’m big on respect. I am not my children’s friend, even when I sure wish I could be. Yes, I play games with them and make silly faces. But ultimately, I’m their mama, which means that I’m their most consistent authority figure. And I have to act accordingly. For the longest time, I had a hard time admitting when I’d been unjust or apologizing for messing up. It felt like an abdication of authority that would weaken my children’s respect for me. It took a while, but I’ve come to understand that, instead of letting my pride blur my understanding of grace, I can be a living and active example of it, letting them see that Mama sins too and that she needs Jesus (and forgiveness) every bit as much as they do.

4. Video games really are addictive

I wasn’t the mom who vowed never to allow video games in her home, but I was determined to stick to a low video game time policy. We have several gaming systems in our home (thanks to Shaun’s buying them secondhand but never playing them), most of which we practically never use, except to play DVD’s. But the boys (and now Della) are allowed 30 minutes of game time on Mondays and then 30 minutes when they’re at my mom’s on the weekend. Other than that, they have zero screen time (other than movies) unless we are a) playing something like Tetris or Mario Kart together as a family b) at the gym (where they show movies and sometimes friends have handheld games), or c) it’s school-related.

Some of you probably find these guidelines too lenient while others are shaking your heads in wonder at my hardcore stance. BUT! I have found, consistently, that when my boys (especially) are allowed more than their allotment of video game time, they become discontented and begin to crave more and more–to the point that they are no longer satisfied with other activities.

Plenty of research has been done about the addictive nature of video games (and screen time, in general), but I have only to look at my own children’s behavior to conclude that, in this case, less really is more.

5. Bring God into the everyday

When Ezra was little, I felt funny talking to him about God all of the time. Sure, we read the Children’s Storybook Bible and prayed, but when I tried to explain more complicated theological concepts in “baby talk,” it felt strange and unnatural. It took a while to get over myself, but one day (years later; I probably already had Della), I caught myself explaining God the Creator through the lens of a spider’s web. And it was effortless. The kids got it. And I felt like I finally did too. Since then, I find myself referencing truths from the Bible or creation or sin nature pretty much all day long as the natural opportunity arises.

Golly. I had NO idea I had that many words about motherhood lessons learned. And that’s only half of them!

Which, I’m sure, makes you soooooo excited for Part 2 tomorrow.

But enough about me. What have YOU learned from being a mama?

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I am not an ostrich. I hope you aren’t either.

Confession: I have avoided watching the Planned Parenthood exposé videos over the past several weeks. I could claim busyness or exhaustion. But the real reason was that the mere thought of watching people barter over the sale of aborted baby body parts made me sick to my stomach.

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{The more kids I have, the harder it is for me to even think about abortion}

But when my mom let me know that the Senate was considering completely defunding Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives 500 million tax-payer dollars per year, I knew I needed to say something and that to be able to say it, I needed to be informed.

So, I watched the videos. And, yes, my stomach churned, but I’m glad I did it. Because truth always trumps personal discomfort.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me briefly explain: a man named David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress recently released four (of 8-10 total) undercover investigative videos, during which he posed as a representative for a company seeking to acquire fetal tissue. During the videos, he speaks with Planned Parenthood employees–doctors, managers, executives–and negotiates the sales of aborted babies on a part by part basis. There is haggling, negotiating, the desire expressed to “get the most out of it” and “check to see what everyone else is doing to make sure we’re getting the most we can, and if not, we can ‘bump it up.’” One woman even jokes (oh, Lord help us) about how she “wants a Lamborghini.”

Hopefully, you find this morally repugnant. At the very least, you might be interested to know that it’s illegal. Although I wish it were with every fiber of my being, the sale of human fetal body parts is not illegal. However, the profiting from such a sale is.

In other words, according to law, Planned Parenthood should have a flat-rate fee that covers any costs that they might incur in “processing and transferring” fetal remains to insure that no profits are possible. Instead, all four of the videos released to date reveal haggling on a body part by body part basis and even the discussion of “wholly intact specimens,” which sometimes “come out if we haven’t gotten to them yet.” That particular doctor admits that it’s definitely not their goal for this to happen but just sort of shrugs and admits that it does. I, like many others, am horrified by this implication that babies are being born before the abortion doctors arrive and then “aborted” anyway. (I am in no way saying that aborted babies inside their mothers’ wombs are any less “alive” or “valuable,” but the possibility of blatant murder outside the womb just adds a whole new layer of disgust/wrongness).

In one video, a prominent doctor/executive describes the process of using ultrasounds to search for the baby’s body position, with a “game plan” from a ” huddle” that they have at the beginning of the day. The purpose? Coupled with the knowledge of what kind of body parts are in demand at the moment, the ultra-sound information can help the abortion doctor to turn the baby around to deliver him/her feet first so that those parts come out “intact” and salable.

This process is identical to the illegal procedure known as partial birth abortion.

I urge you to watch the videos. The experience is neither pleasant nor comfortable (I watched every video with my hand over my mouth and didn’t realize how hard I was pushing on it until they were done, and my lips and teeth hurt).

But it is important.

Today, our legislators are meeting to decide whether to defund Planned Parenthood entirely. Technically by law, no part of our tax-payer dollars may go toward abortion, but given the fact that technically by law, the individual sale of baby parts for profit and partial birth abortion are illegal and yet are still going on–in tandem, no less– I have less than zero faith in an organization with executives who say: “These laws are open to interpretation. At the beginning of the day, if I say that I don’t intend to do something, it doesn’t really matter what ends up happening at the end of the day.”

I’m sorry. Isn’t that the only thing that matters?

After it was revealed that Josh Duggar had molested 5 young girls almost 15 years before, his family’s show was yanked from the TLC network in one day. (I’m not saying this was right or wrong. But it was certainly decisive and aggressive behavior).

Cecil the Lion was killed, and the media and celebrities exploded in a frenzy of outrage and cries for legal action. The Empire State Building has been lit up with his shadow in honor of his “murder.”

And yet, a judge has placed a restraining order on the expose videos, which clearly demonstrate intentionally illegal actions towards human babies, and our senate is meeting to decide whether to defund an organization that participates in blatantly illegal actions and receives 500 MILLION dollars of your and my money to do it.

I’m grateful that, at least, they’re meeting. But that’s still messed up.

If you think so too, please do something about it.

Share the videos, this post, or any other that will help inform people who may not have watched the videos.

Call your legislators.

Sign this petition.

And, most importantly of all, pray. For the senate to make the right, moral, legal decision. And for God’s mercy on our country. Only He knows exactly how much we need it.

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