Mothers with Young Children Need Help! Let’s Talk about How

For the past couple months, life with my 2 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old has seemed….pretty manageable.  It’s to the point, where I’m like….should I have another baby?  Because I should just be jumping back on the crazy train as soon as I’ve caught my breath, right?  I’ve started reading more, writing more, cleaning more, and just lounging more.  And then I got the urge to volunteer my time in some way.  Rather than sitting around, enjoying how easy I have it and thinking about me, me, me; I wanted to figure out a way to help others, with my 2 little ones in tow.  Near and dear to my heart is helping other mothers who are buried deep in the trenches of motherhood.

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Back when we had a 15 month old and a newborn.

I have some friends who have just had or are having their 3rd baby and their oldest is 2 1/2 or younger.  I can only imagine how challenging and tiring that would be. That could’ve been me had God not taken pity on my sanity and given me time to figure out NFP without another surprise during the confusing early months when Silvia was a newborn.  I respect my friends and their sacrifice to faithfully practice or attempt to practice NFP even with children so close together, and I want to help.  I want to be God’s hands, cleaning their houses, making them dinners, and keeping their older kids busy.  I know that God won’t give them more than they can handle and that He will carry them through the difficult times, but maybe God wants to use me to physically carry them through.  In this very manageable season that I’m in, maybe it’s my turn to reach out and help.  Also, I already have my own help.  My two neighbor girls, aged 11 and 7, are answers to my prayers for help that I cried out years ago.

Today, I brought my kids to my friend’s house and the four toddlers played together while she and her husband took their newborn to a doctor appointment and then did a little housecleaning.  I did my best to help clean, too. I could have stayed all day and cleaned (cuz I’m weird and actually enjoy it), but alas, there were 4 toddlers to help take care of.  I’ve made plans with her to make this a weekly event for a while.

I’m still brainstorming ways to help all these moms that need help.  In our modern world of isolation, I want to build communities and networks that have each other’s backs.  We and many of our friends don’t have family in town.  It can be so difficult to get help without paying your left arm for a babysitter.   When a crisis pops up and the babysitter isn’t around, it’s important to have a safety net of people you can turn to.

I’ve thought about something like a co-op daycare, where moms could drop their kids off for a few hours while a couple of other moms babysit together; and then they all switch babysitting duties the next time.  In busy seasons, where moms have newborns, they would be exempt temporarily from babysitting duties, but could still drop their kids off.

My friend thought that moms should just swap babysitting and/or cleaning with another mom.

Also, what we need is more “big” kids to help out like my neighbor girls.  They are at an age where they love little kids and find them so adorable; so they like to play with them.  Leo loves big kids because they run around with him, play hide and seek and push him on the swing.  They don’t take his toys like the other toddlers do.  They are kind of like older siblings and they can be mommy’s helpers at home while she cooks,cleans, works on something or just relaxes.   My little sister babysat (without charging) for a large family for several years.  She started when she was in middle school and continued to babysit throughout high school.  The mom would work from home on her business or do housework while my sister was there.  I see now what a blessing she was for that family.

Do you have any ideas on how to help moms with young children?  Or how to build up communities?  I’d love to hear them.

 

Parenting in Modern-Day America

Parents with younger kids: Do you worry if you’re stimulating your kids enough?  Do you wonder if you should be doing more crafts with them or reading more books to them?  If you’re giving them enough attention?  Feeding them super healthy? Do you worry you are screwing them up based on the parenting philosophy you’ve chosen?  Parents with older kids:  Do you worry if you are giving your kids the best education?  Do you worry about their future careers and if they’ll get into a good college?  Their self-esteem and their success?  Their safety? Their health?

CALM DOWN!  (And I’m saying this to myself, too)

If you compare the lives of kids today with those throughout the history of the human race, we have thankfully come a long way.

Basically, throughout time, children were looked at as little adults.  They “came of age” young and began apprenticeships or worked little jobs to help feed their families.    saggar_ladsIf they didn’t work outside the house, many worked around the house and weren’t able to attend school regularly.  Many didn’t learn how to read or write. Girls were married off young, even before the teenage years or adolescence.  There wasn’t much of a childhood.  I suppose I’m thinking mostly of the poor or working class, but that was the majority of people throughout time.

Today, our children can’t get a formal job until they’re 15.  Education is mandatory.  Deadly diseases are not seen as a huge threat to children. They have a long childhood full of play and stimulation.  kidsAs long as we parent them with love, we need not stress and obsess about all the details. Kids are incredibly resilient, despite what some modern “experts” say in laying guilt upon us.  I used to think I might damage my kids by letting them “cry it out” and that they wouldn’t learn to trust me.  I’ve come to realize that these are just small details in their lives and if they grow up in a loving family, these details aren’t going to be more significant than all the other millions of details of how we talk to them each day, how we discipline them, how we hug and kiss them.  I have opinions on what is a preferable way to raise kids, but I’m realizing that kids will be just fine in thousands of different scenarios and who am I to judge what other parents are doing if their kids are not being abused or neglected?

Whether or not parents keep their kids at home or send them to daycare and public school.  Whether or not they cry-it-out or are rocked to sleep.  Whether or not they eat organically or a basic healthy diet (junk food, GMOs and other non-real food is a modern problem, I’ll admit).  Whether or not they can read by age 4 or by age 10.  If they never go on a vacation or go 20x while growing up. If they go to college or not.  If they become a trash collector or a CEO.  These are mostly first world worries.  And they do not define what we should really be concerned about.

 My biggest concern for modern children is that they run a higher risk of becoming spoiled or entitled or narcissistic.  These are the attitudes that cripple them and prevent them from living happy, free and successful adult lives.

How many toys or gadgets do they have?  Do they feel they are owed these things or that they deserve these and other shiny things that catch their eye?  Are they learning the importance of helping around the house as young kids and developing a good work ethic as older kids?  Do they think they are special and deserve special treatment?  Will they be able to live independent adult lives or will they be babied their whole lives and always taught to rely on their parents for phone payments, a car, someone to harass the teacher about a grade on a college paper.  (This helicopter parenting has actually reached college.  Aside from the stories I’ve read, my sister, a college professor, has even dealt with parents trying to complain or advocate for their “child’s” grade!)

This post is part 1 in a series relating to modern parenting.  The next post will be on the book The Narcissism Epidemic:Living in the Age of Entitlement.

The Truth about Parenting

For a long time I couldn’t get over the feeling that I wished I could be the aunt to my kids instead of the mom.  The aunt gets to play with the kids and receive love from the kids and teach the kids and almost anything except the hard parts like hanging around for the temper tantrums, making breakfast, lunch, dinner, wiping dirty hands and high chairs, changing stinky diapers (and spraying them if you cloth diaper!), telling toddlers “no” for the hundredth time and having to follow through with some consequence while they scream in your ear; cleaning stains out of dirty clothes, holding a sick child in the middle of the night who is burning up with fever, getting vomited on and having to clean up the mess without freaking out. (the last one is more a problem I have since vomit is my worst nightmare.  I just freeze and don’t know where to begin the cleanup!)  And then there’s the guilt of always wondering if you’re effing your kids up big time.  I think all the parenting books out there do more harm than good by giving you lots of guilt if you don’t do things according to their method.  But they say opposite things!  Attachment parenting vs. cry it out books still give me guilt.  As much as I’d always assumed I’d be doing the whole attachment parenting thing and co-sleeping or rocking my babies to sleep or wearing them all the time, it turns out it doesn’t quite gel with me.  I can’t get any sleep next to a baby because every time they twitch I wake up.  I can’t rock a baby to sleep for an hour because I got other stuff to do and I don’t have the patience.

But aside from the guilt and the difficulties and logistics of being MOM, it’s so very amazing.  I knew I had to stick with it because I wanted to be called “mom”.  I wanted to be the one they turn to when they are hurt or scared or happy or sad.  I wanted their love so much.  Maybe those are selfish reasons.  Yes, of course I want to give them so much love, too.  I want to teach and guide and shape and support them as they grow.  I want them to know Christ.  I want to comfort and nurture their little bodies and minds.  But as a new mother, it was difficult at times to constantly be putting all my efforts into caring for my oldest when he was a baby and not really receive much in return.  I knew at the beginning that I could be replaced at the drop of a hat and it hurt a little.  At times he may have preferred other people over me.  I was in the background, changing him, feeding him, getting up with him all night, but he was too young to pay any attention to that.  He just liked the people who gave him all the fun attention and played with him.  Ironically, my second child was the opposite, but that was difficult in its own way.

All this to say…..it gets better. So so much better.  And my oldest is only 2 1/2.  I have lots more to look forward to.  Lately, both kids have been easier and better behaved.  There’s been a lot more moments that I wish I could freeze.  A camera just doesn’t quite do it justice.  Leo still loves to drive his cars around and line them up.  For a while, I would put Silvia down for a nap in the morning and then lay on the couch and drift off to sleep while he drove his cars on my legs.  He seems like a little boy rather than a toddler when playing with the neighbor girls. They whisper something to him and he whispers back.  He chases them around and plays hide and seek and laughs his little head off.  Sometimes he wakes up from a nap and is still tired and just wants to be held for a while, my big little baby.  He is so helpful and good about sharing with Silvia.  They hand each other their shared sippy cup when they’re finished drinking.  When I’ve gone to put Silvia down for a nap, Leo has brought one of her favorite stuffed animals to give to her knowing she likes to sleep with it.  And when he hears her wake up from a nap he shouts “baby awake!” and runs to open her door.  He sometimes pretends to breastfeed his bunny.  He loves books and will sit and read them for a while.  He loves to jump on his bed and pretend to go night night all throughout the house by dragging his blankets and pillows and dropping them in any room of the house and laying on them.  He easily gives kisses and now enjoys naming people to pray for when he says his night time prayers with Daddy.

Silvia seems to be (at least temporarily) over her hitting and biting phase.  Now she is a lover and wants only to give everyone kisses all the time.  If she is sitting next to Leo, she’ll lean over and kiss his back.  She comes from behind and gives Leo a hug or kiss and then they wrestle and giggle.  She likes to charge after me from several feet away and fall into me with a hug.  When I’m holding her, she gives my arm little kiss-pecks.  She kissed my friend’s arm the other day.  She will kiss any object: a toy, a crayon, a stuffed animal, a magnet, you name it.  She has a big toothy grin and an adorable giggle.  She is getting a little more interested in books, but mostly she will hand you a book and want to sit with you, but then jumps down after the first page to grab another book.  Repeat.  She sometimes tells me when she has to poop by saying “papa” for poopoo and hitting her diaper violently.  When I put her on the potty she smiles and says “pppsssssss” because I was trying to connect that sound with peeing.  When she gets excited, she runs really silly, like she’s being zapped by lightning.

I write out these details as a way to remember.  Pictures and videos can’t communicate the details of the days of the weeks of the months of the years.  Time will pass me by, and I don’t want to look back and think “they were so cute, but I don’t remember what they were like back then.”  I want to remember the good and the bad.  I want to remember the truth.  The hardships, yes, but the joyful moments that so easily soften the rougher edges.  Their isn’t a day that goes by (no matter how trying a day it is) that I don’t thank God for the gift that my children are.  They are little miracles and they fill me with awe.  It might not be love at first sight with me, but I’ve come to love them with all my heart.

Catching up on life with snapshots

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted pictures, so here are some.

Image  Playdate with a friend at a mall play area

ImageLeo going down the slide and my friend’s daughter in the background

ImageLeo found Silvia!

ImageShe had a good time trying to escape.  Why are babies always interested in the exit?  

ImageLeo playing pretend at the ice cream parlor at the Children’s Museum.

ImageThe kids watching a short dvd when I needed a bit of peace to work on dinner.

ImageSilvia after a bath so fresh and so clean clean.  Back to playing.

ImageAnd Leo obsessed with his Thomas the train books.

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ImageThe kids at Joe’s aunt’s house on Thanksgiving Day.

ImageJoe playing with Silvia on their grandparents’ playground

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ImageSilvia playing with her cousin.

ImageAll the cousins on my side playing together.  

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