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“I don’t want to have any more children!” I confessed to Jerry late one night. We only had one child at the time. All of those early marriage conversations about adopting and having a large family seemed idiotic and idyllic-reality was just too hard to bear.
I had envisioned motherhood in a warm yellow,glowing light with fresh flowers on the table and a pressed aprons, a perfect home, and family dinner at the table every night. I would rise early in the morning like the Proverbs 31 woman, shower and put on pressed clothing, apply makeup and do my hair. Baby Guire would wake up smiling, giggling. We would spend the day cleaning, playing, sorting socks and preparing nutritious food together.
In the real Guire world, Jerry rarely made it home for dinner. I spent my days in an exhaustion-induced fog, wearing puke-covered PJs, catching up on Brady Bunch reruns while walking the floor with Audrey.
Why didn’t the daily tasks of motherhood fill me with joy?
Last Wednesday, I started a series on myths that parents believe. These myths keep us trapped in guilt and worry. I didn’t come up with these myths on my own. The credit goes to Leslie Fields, author of Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.
“We are fed up with the myth -shamelessly hawked by the media-that motherhood is eternally fulfilling and rewarding, that it is always the best and most important thing you do… and if you don’t love every second of it, something is wrong with you.”- Susan Douglas, Meredith Michaels, The Mommy Myth
While I don’t agree with most of this quote, I can appreciate the “and if you don’t love every second of it, something is wrong with you”. I’ll get to that in a minute. There is a move in our society to diminish the value of motherhood and we are seeing the fruit of it in drunken brawls, warped morals and school shootings. Women are pursuing other goals, cause let’s face it ladies, motherhood doesn’t always make us feel happy or fulfilled.
The truth is- having a family is a good and godly purpose. Believing that children will always make you feel happy and fulfilled is a myth. Anything worth doing is difficult. I have never done anything worthwhile that I didn’t have to overcome some hurdles or hit some brick walls. Have you? Ask me how many books I have written and saved on my laptop? I go into freeze mode when it comes to revising. Does that mean I should stop writing? No. Of course not. That means I need help and some encouraging writing groups to push me to the finish line.
I hear Moms say that parenting is too hard. I agree. It is hard. So is power walking five miles or training for a 5k. I would put those tasks at the bottom of the list when it comes to ranking them in order of difficulty. Parenting would be at the top. Yet, we do both of them, not because they are difficult, but because they are worth it.
- Children are not in our lives to fulfill our needs. We are here to fulfill their’s.
- Children are a blessing (read through the beatitudes for a longer list).
- Happiness should not be our highest goal in life.
- Children are made in the image of God and have infinite value.
- Children help us learn to love as God does.
“I understood instinctively and theologically that until I poured my life out to others, my own desires would enslave me. I wanted paradoxical freedom that comes from giving my life away.” – Leslie Fields.
Early in my parenting years- my intellect and the current philosophy said it was “time for me” sprinkled in with some vain deceit, and I followed my own desires senselessly. I stayed up late watching what I wanted on TV. It was “my time”. The next day, I awoke cranky, tired, and craving more “me time”. I demanded it. When the kids wouldn’t nap, I became frustrated mama, not because I knew they needed sleep, but because I wanted time. My “me time” wasn’t the fufillment of necessary rest, but an excuse to self-indulge and my “need” for it kept growing larger and larger.
I had a holy confrontation coming and it hit me hard. When my kids starting having some major health issues, God turned me into a purposeful parent. Not a perfect parent. Just one who saw her purpose. After my book of revelations, I began to parent on purpose. To plan. To envision where my kids would be in ten years in spirit, soul and body.
Where do we find happiness?
Children teach us how to love, how to serve, how to walk in the fruit of the spirit. We are here to fulfill God’s purpose. So are our children. “God is using our children to conform us into the image of His Son.” (Leslie Fields)
Parenting is a worthy investment. It doesn’t always make us happy. Our joy comes from the Lord. We can receive that joy through parenting our children, but that doesn’t mean every moment is warm and fuzzy. Puke covered PJs still don’t make me jump for joy. We can learn to be content regardless of our circumstances. Some of them are poopy. Our feelings can fluctuate, but our purpose can stand. God’s purpose can stand. I don’t feel the same during mile five of a power walk as I do in mile three. Sometimes, after little sleep the night before, I feel as if I am a pirate with a heavy peg leg in mile five.
Maybe you feel like you are dragging today or this week or this month. Maybe you feel as if you are swimming through sludge? Wondering if parenting is all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you’re up to your elbows in peanut butter and wonder if you really have a purpose in this life. “Every day is a Monday”. (Carly Jones)
Dear friend, don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. Grab a new cup of perspective. Ask God to help you find joy in some moments. Ask Him to give you an eternal perspective. Do the hard stuff and trust that God will take care of the results.
Modern feminism tells us women that we can/should have it all. We can have it all and there will be no consequence? That’s just not possible. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Basic science. If we have it ALL, we have to maintain it ALL.
Modern woman have it all, but according to Dr. Villar, author of Urban Woman Syndrome, we are paying a hefty price. Women or more likely to suffer stress and anxiety these days than men. The stressors in women’s lives are greater than they were in our mother’s time. Whether you work or stay at home (and work), the pressure is greater to ‘have it all together’ in a world that is falling apart.You are not alone, dear one. It’s going to be okay. Really. Can I share three things that have helped me? Three things I need reminded of 0ften? I learned them from John 5, the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda and from Holley gerth (via her book You’re Going to be Okay). You can find the rest of the first article here.
Ready for the first step?
- Get up.
Jesus told the man at the pool to get up. Pool guy had let his circumstances define him for thirty-eight years.
“There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated andlingering disorder for thirty-eight years.”
Guess what, your circumstances don’t define you. They are not who you are. They are simply where you are.
“What the enemy tries to whisper to us whenever we struggle is this, “If God really loved you, this wouldn’t be happening.”” (Holley Gerth) Not true. We live in a fallen world. People make choices that affect us. This world has sickness, sin and suffering. This world and all it’s circumstances don’t define us. God doesn’t love us less because we are suffering.
Don’t believe the lie the man at the pool believed- I’m not really loved. Nobody cares about me. No one will help me. Lies. All lies.
You are infinitely loved. God loved you and thought of your adoption into HIs family before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1). Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39). You are not what you feel. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed and like a failure, those are feelings, not a determination of WHO you ARE. You are loved! Stand up sister and encourage yourself in the Lord. Look up scriptures including those above and memorize them. Hide them in your heart. Make them part of your arsenal. Pull out the weapon of the Word and fight like a girl.
“Soul shaping is hard work. Often planting these seeds pushes against your own selfishness. Excellence requires that you cultivate and uphold your own inner standards in a world that makes concessions.”
I used to think that there were major sins and minor sins. Sins that were outwardly visible or labeled ‘bad’ were the ones to stay away from. Sins like MURDER. Or DRUNKENess. Those were the sorts of sins a good girl stayed away from.
I was a good girl. All my life. I didn’t commit any of the offenses I hi -lighted in my Bible. AT least on the outside. Then I had kids. If you want to mature, spiritually or otherwise, just have a few kids or adopt some.
Kids push your buttons. They stir up the inner sins, the darkness lurking in the depths of your evil lair, or just your mind. Children can turn super heroes into villains overnight. Actually, they don’t do it. We do it to ourselves. All that junk we keep hidden in the closet of our mind, the door that we slam shut with little sins like selfishness sticking out like a coat hanger. We clean up the rest of our act to be the ‘good girl’ until those kids open our closets. Everything spills out that was there in the first place.
I know. I’ve been there. Every button pushed. Every nerve taxed. Exhaustion sets in and you’re just trying to be a nice Mom. A sweet Mom. And you just fail. Me too.Yikes.
There’s all kinds of info out there on the web and in print about how to train your kids. How to take care of yourself. Some suggest Moms just get away. Some Moms go to work just so they don’t have to deal with their kids or everything their kids bring out in them. Impatience. Anger. Yelling. Hiding.
We just don’t talk about this. There’s a lot we Moms don’t talk about because we are so busy trying to be the best, to measure up. We put on our false face and keep going. Inside, we’re dying cause no one else will fess up. The lady beside you in the Target check out line certainly has it altogether. The minimalist you follow on Instagram never yells at her kids to pick up their toys, cause they don’t have any, so she is sinless, right?
So, on top of all of this self-loathing, we lie to ourselves. So why try? Is there an answer? Are we Moms doomed to implode or explode? Or are we believing myths? Leslie Fields, author of Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt, says, “Ironically, pretending that parenting is easy diminishes the value of family”.
Friends, we are imperfect. We can start there. Also, we are not failures. We’ve just been listening to the wrong voices.
Three Myths about. parenting ( from Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt).
- Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled.
- Nurturing Your Children is Natural and Instinctive.
- If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan.
What’s the last decision you made completely uninfluenced by others or your circumstances?
Do your circumstances define you and confine you?
If you had total freedom from other’s opinions, your current circumstances and your erroneous beliefs about yourself, what would that look like?
Would you feel freer, act as if you had value? Would you pursue your purpose with vigor instead of fear and trepidation?
What if you walked as if you were truly loved, valued and cherished?
Modern feminism tells us women that we can/should have it all. We can have it all and there will be no consequence? That’s just not possible. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Basic science. If we have it ALL, we have to maintain it ALL. As Bud, my stepfather used to say, “Something’s got to give.” It’s like those people who want a pool (it’s great), but don’t want to do the work of vacuuming it, keeping the patio clean, testing the water, etc.. Point is, if you have it, you have to maintain it.
Modern woman have it all, but according to Dr. Villar, author of Urban Woman Syndrome, we are paying a hefty price. Women or more likely to suffer stress and anxiety these days than men. The stressors in women’s lives are greater than they were in our mother’s time. Whether you work or stay at home (and work), the pressure is greater to ‘have it all together’ in a world that is falling apart. There’s more pressure to look perfect for our social media driven society. There is more stress on being educated and have the perfect career in a new age where women have the option to pursue academics. If you stay and home and homeschool, there is an unwritten rule that your house should be cleaner and you should be more organized and efficient than the rest of the female population!
Are you feeling pressure just reading this? Is it overwhelming? This overwhelming stress or Urban Woman Syndrome drives us to survival mode where we fight, flight or freeze.
We should have it all together, right? As soon as we get one step in the right direction of “I’ve got it all covered”, then circumstances happen that throw us into the pit.
- Job Loss
- Parenting a child with special needs
- A Move
- A Job Change
- A New Baby
- Health Issues
- Death of a Loved One
Suddenly, all the great things in our life look gray. Feel gray. I know. I’m preaching to the Guire here. Been there. Done that.
You are not alone, dear one. It’s going to be okay. Really. Can I share three things that have helped me? Three things I need reminded of often? I learned them from John 5, the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda and from Holley Gerth (via her book You’re Going to be Okay).
First of all, do you want to get well? That’s what Jesus asks the man who had laid by the pool for thirty-eight years.
“Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in it.”
May I tell you something, friend? There is enough pool water for everyone. The water that Jesus offers means you’ll never thirst. There is no lack in Jesus. The lady next to you at church isn’t taking all the healing. There is enough for you too. Say “yes” to wanting to get well. Take a second right now. Just say, “yes, Jesus”.
Next week, join me for number one!
Do you feel as if you are always yelling at your children and they just don’t listen?
Do you feel distant from your children? As if you are wounding their spirit every time you correct?
Are you wondering how to navigate this road of parenting without anger? Without that feeling of distance?
Do you want to connect and correct at the same time?
If so, this is for you…..
“There is no such thing as adoption or foster care without loss.”
“As a result, our children have some unique histories and unique needs, and because of this they will need parents who have a unique approach in order to help them connect in a relationship and begin to heal.”
Your child needs a high degree of structure and a high degree of nurture.
The authoritarian parent offers a high degree of structure with a low degree of nurture.
The permissive parent offers a high degree of nurture with a low degree of structure.
The best is a balance of both.
How do you know which way you lean? Here’s a short check list from The Connected Child to help you determine.
You’re Too Permissive and Lenient if…
- You make rules and promises and don’t enforce them
- You nag, nag, nag but don’t enforce.
- You wait too long to enforce and then explode in anger.
- You beg your child to cooperate.
- Your child is the one who decides if and when things get done.
- You ask your child “What do you want?” more often than you tell him what has to happen.
- You allow your child to physically harm you or others.
- You often pretend you don’t notice misbehavior or disrespect.
- Your child encounters no negative consequences for cursing or bad-mouthing you.
- Your child doesn’t take your word seriously.
- Your child talks disrespectfully to you.
You’re Too Strict and Controlling if…
- You tell your child “No” more frequently than you praise him.
- You tell your child “No” more frequently than you show him affection.
- You constantly tell your child what to do and don’t give him the opportunity to make choices or compromise.
- You shut down your child’s expressions of sadness or disappointment .
- You ignore or belittle your child’s point of view.
- You use punishments, shaming and insults to gain your child’s compliance.
- An hour doesn’t go by without you finding fault with your child.
Obviously, your child needs correcting. We can be too permissive and let our child run all over us. A parent out of control is a child in control. Kids need adults who are in control. It makes them feel more secure. If we connect and correct at the same time, it’s possible to attach securely. What does this look like? First and foremost, there should not be any anger in correction and save your yelling for when your child runs toward the road or a swimming pool with no floats on. Your child will take it more seriously then. Plus anger and yelling wounds an already wounded spirit. Or for those street smart kid, stuck in survival mode, it gives him the upper hand. He knows he can control Mom or Dad. Then it becomes a battle of the wills. Or a battle of his past with your’s.
When you need to correct, take a breath. A long deep one and think, is this a mountain or a molehill? Do I need a gnat gun or an elephant gun? Does this need a “try that again with respect ” or “are you asking for a compromise?” Think about your goal, do you want your child to succeed and make progress or do you want him to feel punished? If it is punished, then expect the opposite of connection on his part (and your’s too). There are days when we cycle through separation and connection. I understand that. We can’t control our children’s reactions to our parenting, but we can control how we parent.When we have to correct with a command, we can follow it up with praise. We don’t have to withhold our love or frown when correcting. Not every command requires a mean face.
The best way to look at it is through the lens of our relationship with God. Ever since sin entered the world and separated us from Him, he has tried to reconnect. He offered the life of His Son so we could be in relationship with Him. That has always been His goal. He connects and corrects, always offering a path back to His loving arms. Back to relationship. He says, I am here for you, no matter what. That should be the message we send to our kids. We are here. Yes, you needed some correction, but the connection is not lost because of that. It is possible to connect and correct.