When I first became a mother I used to feel flattered when another mother commented on how well I was with my child or when someone would come to me for advice.
But by the time my first baby hit toddlerhood I had another newborn and I was beginning to get the feeling of having bitten off more than I could chew. The compliments no longer made me feel flattered. Instead, I began feeling like a fraud. Friends thought I had this whole mothering thing figured out but I felt as though I was the one who needed guidance and advice. I wasn't trying to come off as one who had it all together, but to them, I guess that's what it looked like.
Now that my oldest is 7 and I've had the opportunity to learn a few lessons, I'm feeling more comfortable offering humble advice to other moms who need it. I no longer feel like I'm in over my head although that feeling just may return when my kids move through their teen years. =)
I was talking to a young mother the other day and she confided that she couldn't see herself raising more than 2 kids. I remember feeling that way and now I have 4.
My children have taught me so much. They've shaped and disciplined me more than I have them. I am a million times better because of the influence each one has had on me. I know that the day I became a mother was the day my life changed for the better.
James Dobson was right when he said that parenting isn't for cowards. It's been a tough journey so far but if you train them right, the "easy" far outweighs the "hard", trust me.
I read a devotion once when Nate was a strong-willed little toddler and I was coming to God every night in tears, begging Him for guidance. I can't remember who wrote it but it was about taking advantage of the time we have with our children to teach and train them before their character was set. The time frame for this is about 1000 days--or the first 3 years of the child's life.
One thousand days. That's not very long. If I love him/her it should be the easiest thing in the world to sacrifice my time (my work, my career, etc) and devote myself to the task of shaping the character, attitude and future of my child.
Before, I viewed toddlerhood as something that was unpleasant but unavoidable. The way I saw it, I needed to "hang on" and pray that those years would be over quickly.
But the "1000 days" thing really put things into perspective for me. Instead of wanting to run from my responsibility and seeing it as an extremely difficult task, it made me want to use each day to instill values into my child. After all, the clock was ticking. Each day that passed was a countdown. I didn't feel overwhelmed since my husband and I had a plan. We decided to make each day count and get to work with training our young children. I have applied this to each of my children and continue to offer this advice to other women who have small babies and toddlers and who are overwhelmed by the job of raising them.
Some parents leave the care of their children during this time to someone else. Sometimes a daycare or a family member has more access to a child during these 1000 days than the parents do. I think it's unfortunate that the parents don't take advantage of this window of time and save themselves and their children time, arguments and tears later on.
This is something I think about a lot since it is my line of work. I am a mom and I am a minister to women. I research and read and pray about this because I feel it is so important for us to maximise this time if we are to raise godly offspring.
Please understand that this post is not about mothers working outside the home. It is very possible for a mother to be at home, raising her child herself and yet not actively taking steps to shape his/her character. I am writing mostly to get my thoughts and, if I'm lucky, to encourage the overwhelmed, overworked young mother out there who needed to hear this today.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the subject.