My sweet blogging friend, Jen, at Into Your Will tagged me to participate in a blog train about how I’m rocking motherhood right now. It’s pretty typical for us all to think negative thoughts and constantly be trying to better ourselves through constructive criticism, the latter part being a good thing, but it’s not often that I see many mothers pinpoint what is working for them and what they are doing well in motherhood. I don’t think it’s a point of pride to recognize some of the great talents God has given us to fulfil our vocation, so I’m in full support of this little activity. I think it can only help, by keeping us aware of our strengths and bringing more positivity, light, and joy into a hard thing–motherhood.
Speaking of, as I type this, I’m sitting in a rocking chair in our bedroom listening to my 22 month old sob for me in his room as my husband attempts to put him to bed. We had a week of stomach flu in the house which had me taking over bedtime duties, and our kiddo got used to mama putting him to bed, which is not going to be working for us as soon as the baby arrives, so we are trying to get back into our good bedtime routine and it’s not so fun. So, motherhood, nay, parenthood, is hard, and nothing is quite as it should be right now. That’s okay though, even though it is hard, it is good.
1) As a parent, I want my child to know that I always make loving him a priority, no matter what I am doing. So, mimicking a great family from my childhood, I constantly stop what I’m doing and tell my son I love him. Not a passive comment, but rather, we have gotten into the habit of saying, “Eliot, guess what!” And he looks at us and says, “what?” In an almost reverent whisper. We finish by saying, “I love you, that’s what!” And he gives us the biggest grin, sometimes accompanied by “I bubboo too.” This happens multiple times an hour, multiple hours per day, and now he does it too.
2) No matter how chaotic bedtime gets, we always begin with our prayer routine. Sign of the cross (which Eliot loves to do), the Our Father (which he bows for and is so cute), a “Goodnight Jesus and Mary” prayer, followed by another sign of the cross. Eliot has also added the collection of every crucifix in the house coming off the wall for a kiss too… I expect the routine to evolve and become more personal as he gets older, as we incorporate intentions into the mix. Prayer is another priority.
3) I constantly consider my language to Eliot and try to encourage virtue and success with my words. This doesn’t just mean I watch those swear words (of course I do) but rather that I frame requests and praise intentionally. Instead of always saying, “that’s so sweet) when he does something nice, I say specifics. “That was so kind to kiss your baby sister!” Or “would you please be helpful to mama and bring me a diaper?” Instead of “it’s time for a diaper change, go get your diaper.” It’s only if willful disobedience occurs that we then take him aside and talk about the choices that he has and consequences. Most of the time, we never have to go there.
4) I take fear seriously. I don’t belittle or dismiss a fear that Eliot has, but instead, I try to help him through it. We talk a lot, spend time encouraging him to tell us about it, and we discuss reasons we don’t have to be scared, but can have courage. If it applies, we also do as Daniel Tiger says, and “see what it is, we might feel better.” Right now, Monday’s and Thursday’s are rough because of the trash truck…
5) I persevere through distractions and difficult phases where reading aloud is concerned. For a while, he would only ever let me read while he bathed. We are slowly getting back into regular book time aside from bath time, and we work hard to make read aloud a ritual, for all the good benefits from doing so in a family. Even if it means reading the same books repeatedly.
6) I ask for forgiveness as a parent. If I yell, or lose patience in an obvious way to Eliot, I make a point of asking him to forgive me and asking if I can hug and say sorry. Every person deserves that, and if dr. Suess has taught us anything, it’s that “a person is a person no matter how small.”
7) I slow down to let my son help with everything, even if it’s impractical. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, writing grocery lists, etc… everything is an opportunity to show patience and encourage learning.
8) When it comes down to the provision in our home, I try to invite a frugal mindset. He is a little young for this concept, but we try to be good stewards through shopping second hand for clothes, housewares, and toys, and finding coupons and sales for everything from hobbies to groceries. It’s more a family culture thing, I guess, but we want to teach Eliot these concepts to help him be a good steward too.
I think I really only had about 8 things to notice, because everything else gets a little too specific and into parental preferences, more than I suppose I already did. Reading these posts has been really encouraging and has given me some great ideas for motherhood too! I hope my post helped somebody else that way.