A Realization of Sorts

By Moriah on February 12th, 2008

I think myself very blessed to have had such wonderful teaching on the vast and varied subject of parenting. We’ve had some great role models and also have been introduced to a number of first-class books and series on the subject.

I say that, however, as a preface.

I think probably everyone has a parenting philosophy, whether they can articulate it or not. It might be a broad-strokes, general kind of attitude towards raising kids, or very pointed and specific one. Sometimes there is confusion between principles and methods. (For example, a principle would be that parents are obligated to feed their children. The method is then how they go about providing nourishment.)*

Principles and methods get confused when someone places principle-worthy importance on a mere method; i.e. breastmilk vs. formula, demand or cue feed vs. schedule feed, etc. One ‘side’ is taken to be the right and only way, instead of merely being one of many acceptable ways. (And, obviously, others have explained this much better than I.)

So when I first had Drew, I fit myself nicely into the camps that I thought I agreed with the most. And, to be fair, things went pretty well. He was a laid back baby and still, for the most part, is an easy-going kid.

Then I had Madeline and I was too busy chasing Drew around to obsess over my child-rearing formulas that would yield perfect children in the end. I had to relax on some things or go crazy.

And that was exponentially true when I had Adelaide. She gets her diaper changed probably a lot less than Drew did as a baby. She doesn’t get fed every 180 minutes (well, okay, he didn’t either). Our family and our days just don’t work that way. I’m not a clockwork person; my kids shouldn’t be expected to be, either.

The ‘camp’ analogy also works well with other parenting topics, such as discipline. It’s an issue with a lot of different philosophies (and therefore many different, and often contrasting, methods). I unconsciously must have thought that I had to conform wholly to one camp and wasn’t free to glean pieces out of another and just add them into my own unique mix. (And I’m not talking about being inconsistent. I’m talking about broadening; being flexible and merciful when it’s appropriate. Also, tightening up when it’s appropriate.)

I’m writing all this to say – it finally occurred to me that I don’t have to be entirely in one single camp on any given parenting topic. I can pick and choose certain elements that I agree with and that will work well for my family. My personal methods don’t all have to be from the same philosophical camp.

I’m the mother. I know what’s best for my family (well, ultimately God does) and I make the decisions. I don’t have to stick to every single rule out of some book I read once. Additionally, on the flip side, if I’m attracted to a brand new philosophy/method set, I don’t have to swallow the whole pill – I can pull out parts that I like and leave the rest.

In a practical outworking, I can hold or nurse my baby when I want to. But I can also give my baby a bottle or a nap, if I want to. I can discipline for something, but I can also choose to show mercy if I see that my child’s heart is in the right place.

How very freeing it has been for me to realize all of this! Our particular family doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s. We just have to be faithful.

(*not an original idea of mine)

By the way, a wonderfully balanced and beautifully written (related) post here: Salt and Sugar.



Reflections

By Moriah on August 6th, 2007

I’ve been thinking about how to write such a post as this for a while. What should I say and what should I not? I feel the need to just get this post “off my chest,” so to speak. Please bear with me and I’ll warn you in advance it will be long. Too long. Sorry.

I am feeling more settled now and actually have days where I’m even happy. The days of depression come less and less often. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like this place is home (I’ve come to embrace my inner Southern girl, y’all), but it’s okay for now. What follows are mostly random thoughts. In no particular order and/or significance.

I am learning to find a deeper joy in being with my kids. Let’s face it, moving to a new place caused my social life to come to a screeching halt. Almost all of my time is now spent at home alone with them. Andy and I have talked a lot about parenting in the recent months…how my role as mama is not to merely baby-sit them (“let’s just make it to bedtime, people!”) but to truly love and teach them. It’s hard, y’all! Sometimes I’d rather be doing other things than well, playing cars, eating mac n’ cheese, and changing the trillionth diaper. Er, that goes without saying.

I’m also learning (sometimes slowly) to enjoy this place for itself. Although Andy’s parents aren’t home a lot during the week due to their business, it’s been really fabulous having them around. Especially for Sunday mornings. Usually they take Drew and Madeline to Sunday school and I can get ready and feed the baby in peace. And drink my coffee hot.

Other things I like about life here:

There is no sales tax on food or clothing. ‘Nough said.

I’ve also enjoyed the occasional break from the summer heat. Up here we’ll have typical hot summer days, but a cool day or two usually follows. It’s nice to actually be outside during the summer instead of always running for the relief of the air conditioner. And their backyard is a child’s paradise.

I LOVE how the laundry is right outside my bedroom door instead of on the other side of the house.

VBS was a wonderful break. It’s nice to have quiet mornings once in a while. It was fun to enjoy my newest baby without worrying if the other kids were going to sit on her head.

Some things that are not so great:

The North is not the South. I know. Very Profound. But there is something to be said about good ol’ Southern hospitality and you don’t quite find the same thing anywhere else.

It’s against the law to pump your own gas. Yeah, I agree. And usually the attendants don’t speak the king’s English and are often rude. And slow. Very slow.

It’s also against the law to talk on a cell phone while driving. I can see the safety precautions for that but still it annoys me. Most drivers have those ear pieces that make them appear as if they are talking to thin air. Me, I just put my cell phone on speaker and TALK REALLY LOUD. It works.

I still miss my Chatty friends terribly. That is, by far, the hardest thing. I was used to y’all being around! Oh how I took our impromptu Sunday evening bashes for granted (even though Steve and Andy inevitably fell asleep on the couch). I miss my babysitters (or Nicky, as the case may be), and all those little things I’m now having to do without. And I miss the Restaurant food (I’m talking about the important stuff here!). And my friend D being only a two-hour drive south…

Church stuff… I miss the red Trinity Hymnal, raised hands during the Doxology and the like, having weekly Communion and the loud, hearty (corporate) ‘Amen!’ I’ll miss the ol’ Women’s Bible Study come fall – my Wednesdays just won’t feel like proper Wednesdays.

Of course I miss having my own house. I feel slightly awkward asking folks over since we’re sort of just staying here. It’s such a weird balance between being *where we live* and *not really our home.* And, as y’all know, I’m nothing if I don’t like to have people over. A lot. And I miss that St. Elmo playround for a front yard. That was handy.

This “I miss” list could go on forever, so I’ll just end there for now. And sorry for the length, again, but thanks anyway for ‘listening.’

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