Parenting as a Relationship

Felisha is wife to Dustin, and momma to Josiah. She is also a blogger and I asked her to share with you part of her parenting journey. I love Felisha’s desire to seek after God’s will for her as a parent, and for Josiah as she raises him. Enjoy!

When Danielle asked me to write for this blog, I was totally pumped for the opportunity! Afterall, I’m a budding blogger. BUT…when she said it was about what I’ve learned as a parent, I immediately felt sick…What do I have to say about parenting, when I feel like a failure daily? 

Why do we mothers and creative types fear failure? I’m convinced it’s the enemy’s favorite of our characteristics. He doesn’t even have to work for it. Don’t give him the pleasure, Momma! What I want to share today is that we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to trust that we know our babies and respect the unique personalities that God created in them.

After my initial sense of dread over writing about parenting, I knew what I had to say was about relationships. In a recent email conversation with my dear sister-in-law, Leah, about our tender-hearted boys, I wrote,

“I love learning the ‘whys’ of parenting [we were discussing introversion and extroversion]. It definitely makes the ‘hows’ less challenging. It’s such a blessing to be in a relationship with your child. This might sound stupid, but I don’t think I ever really understood that parenting is just a new type of relationship. It’s not just a responsibility on my part. Josiah is a unique, individual person, and I just have to learn him like anybody else. I don’t know why that fascinates me so much, but I love it.”

I remember when Josiah was born, I was hit with something I’d never considered. Although we definitely bonded, I remember thinking, “I have no idea what to do with this kid. I just met him!” Josiah had a rough beginning, and due to an issue with dairy in my diet, he cried a lot during the first few months. Surprisingly, it didn’t phase me as much as would be expected. I just decided that this screaming child was outspoken and had some sort of need I didn’t know how to meet, yet. Over time, I learned how to meet his needs; he cried less and smiled more. He is still a very outspoken, passionate, and attention seeking boy, but we’ve learned each other and continue to do so each day.

The thing with relationships is that they thrive on humility and mutual respect. And let me tell you, parenting has been very humbling for me. I’m so thankful for that. I have made a point to say, “I’m sorry” to Josiah since the day he was born. “I’m sorry, Momma doesn’t know what you need…I’m sorry Momma is so grumpy…I’m sorry I yelled…I’m sorry I scratched you when I picked you up.” There’s no limit to my mistakes, but humility goes such a long way. Just because I am older and more able to provide for myself, doesn’t mean I am above Josiah. It’s vitally important that he and I both know that.

As I have sought to be more humble and selfless, I’ve learned how to show this tiny person I’m raising the same respect I’d desire from another adult. Dustin and I have been told over and over how sweet and well-behaved Josiah is. This was definitely a gift from God, but we also believe it has to do with the fact that we have always treated him like a tiny adult who has the same biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs as we do. When his needs are met and frustrations are minimized by compromise and understanding, he has much less need for acting out. Don’t you get frustrated when someone won’t listen to you or won’t let you do something you so desperately need or desire to do?!

Additionally, when a child feels free, loved, and respected, he learns to treat other people the same way. It’s a natural response to his parents’ example. One of the most profound bits of parenting advice I’ve ever gotten was from my own Daddy. When I asked him how you teach a child to love God, He simply said, “You just have to live it.” It cannot be said enough that children live what they see, not what they are told. So, you don’t want your child to scream and steal toys from other children? Well, don’t yell at him and rip things out of his hands. I believe it really can be that simple. I know there are times when you have to instruct a disobedient child, but I really believe it starts with your behavior as a parent.

I often cringe when I hear of “baby training”…Now, I don’t want to get into a debate over parenting philosophies. Frankly, I don’t believe you can subscribe to any one style with every child. That’s sort of my point. Each child is a unique creation, and if we want to encourage each of them to become the beautiful soul he or she was made to be, we need to get to know them.

Although I respect and understand the need for boundaries with children, I hate the thought of training a child to be a carbon copy of some made-up “perfect” sleeper/eater/communicator, etc. Josiah is who he is. Some of his personality is delightful and some of it is frustrating. He has strengths and flaws just like his Momma. Each day, I try to nurture his soul, so that he becomes the worshiper of God HE was created to be. I am definitely NOT a perfect mother, but that is not the goal anyway, is it? Josiah growing up and worshipping Jesus in His own beautiful way is all this Momma could ever ask.
If you’d like to read more from Felisha, check out her blog: millybecomingwilder.wordpress.com

Firm Steps

 

Nothing will humble you quicker, and more often, than being a parent.

As our son grows up, every few weeks I catch myself feeling confident. I start thinking, “I think we’ve finally got this figured out.” “We’re good! This is totally easy.” But, those are usually the times when something new is around the corner.

Once we got the sleeping/eating schedules down, he started teething. Once he got his first teeth he was sitting up, eating solids, crawling, pulling himself up, quickly followed by walking, then running. Last week I started thinking those overly-confident thoughts again, and right on time, the next day, he figured out how to climb on top of the coffee table.

That is when my thinking changed to, “oh boy, now what am I going to do?” Continue reading

Ian & Larissa: Thoughts on Living a Selfless Life

 

I haven’t been able to get over this story since I saw this video a few days ago on facebook. It has been haunting me.

It is the story of a young couple, Ian and Larissa, that met in college. After dating for several months, and preparing for engagement, they experienced a huge trauma that would probably shake most relationships. Ian was in a car accident that left him with a brain injury, unable to walk or talk, but Larissa stayed with him. They were engaged, married, and now through therapy he is walking and is able to communicate with his wife. Continue reading

Singing in the Rain

 

It’s raining. The drops are gently hitting the leaves one at a time, and all at the same time. The rough, mossy bark of the trees that line the edge of the field is dark and wet, and everything green is bright and alive. A light breeze is moving and the air is cool and misty. I close my eyes and invite my senses to breathe it all in, slow and deep.

Based on that description, where do you think I am?

Would you have ever guessed that I am sitting on the balcony of our little two-bedroom apartment that overlooks the small yard and woods behind our building? And that on the other side of the trees is the HIGHWAY? Through the branches semi trucks, and cars of all kinds whiz past constantly. I can hear each one, even when I’m inside with the windows shut.

When friends visit for the first time, some of them say “wow, how can you sleep with the highway right there?” And some say, “what a beautiful view of the trees,” which is what we said the day we looked at this apartment. That is because the world around us is all a matter of perspective.

I know the highway is right there, the noise makes it obvious. But I can still close my eyes and focus on the calm that is the barrier between me and the busy road. Instead of loud cars and trucks, I can hear and see the Cardinal on the tree in front of me chirping his little heart out. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the noise, he is gathering sticks and things for his nest. He is still going about his business as a bird. He is still singing, loud and proud.

Stress doesn’t have to define our outlook and our attitude. It doesn’t have to debilitate us. We decide what we let in, we have a choice. It doesn’t mean those things will go away if we change our focus. More than likely, many of those things will still be there, the highway is not going anywhere, that’s for sure. But it also doesn’t mean that by accepting what we can’t change, we allow bad things and toxic relationships to continue to interfere, just like I don’t lose sleep over the noise of the road.

What it does mean is that we can put up a peaceful barrier between us and the mess. We can have boundaries. Sometimes this is simply a change of mind, we change the direction of our thoughts with positive messages instead of the negative ones we are exposed to, as I focus on the beautiful nature surrounding me instead of the highway. Other times this means putting an actual distance between us and the stressor. In some cases, this is necessary just for a short while to gain strength against the negativity, but sometimes a permanent distance is best if that stressor constantly causes too much disruption.

At the end of the day, you may not have complete control over your surroundings, your job, or the bad events that inevitably happen to all of us because the world, and it’s troubles, still exist. But you do have complete control over the most important part, YOU.

We can always choose to take a deep breath, we can feel the cool breeze, and soak in the beauty around us. Despite the chaos, we can keep singing in the rain.

 

Waiting: Impatience and Negative Pregnancy Tests

 

***Please know that this is only to share what God is teaching me through MY story. In no way am I judging anyone who has gone through the painful task of fertility treatments, or has decided to adopt. I fully believe God definitely works through these ways as well – any child, no matter how they were conceived, is ABSOLUTELY a gift from Him***

I waited impatiently, mostly nervous, and a little excited, for the double pink lines to appear in the tiny window on the take-home, plastic pregnancy test.

One line slowly got darker. And I waited.

Was that a second line? Or was I seeing things? Waiting, waiting. Continue reading

Understand, or Be Understanding?

Marriage is hard enough, add kids to the mix, and life gets totally crazy.

One afternoon we were in the car on a long ride home, and we were talking about how we felt things were going. I was talking about my long days, my overwhelming schedule and to-do list, and that there had to be a better way to do things. My husband began doing what many husbands do in that situation, he started offering solutions, and comparing his day at work to my days at home.

I was getting irritated, my words were getting jumbled, and I felt even more stressed about the conversation. After some fumbling through my thoughts and feelings, I finally figured out the cause of my frustration, I just wanted him to be understanding. Let me explain.

I was essentially venting about my day.

My husband was trying to relate by comparing my work to his work.

This made me feel like he was minimizing my stress, when what he was trying to do was to convey that he understood. Continue reading

Seeking God {In the Busy Life of a Mom}

Your relationship with God is the most important relationship in your life and should get the most investment.

Think about that. For all of the time you spend changing diapers, wiping noses, fixing meals, cleaning up meals, and so on, not including taking care of yourself or your marriage, and friends and family, God should get more.

What about days when you have no more to give? Or days when it doesn’t go that well?

Most of the time it feels like a battle that I win some days, and lose most. When you’re busy all day long, and you run on the schedule of a toddler (or two, or more, of all ages), getting quiet time is extremely hard.

I am finding that the balance between expectations and reality is tricky. Having a child, I have seen that it is impossible to expect that relationships go perfectly and according to plan. But even when I don’t get long, uninterrupted conversations with my husband, it doesn’t mean that I stop trying to talk to Him. That’s when things really go wrong! We just keep trying, even in the middle of chaos.

When life is crazy, you have to get creative. This is something that I think is a life-time of adjustment and balance. Constantly adjusting our plan, and balancing it all, to avoid expecting too much, or giving too much. Here are some ways I’m learning to allow God to be my whole day, and not just part of it…

  1. Turn the radio off. The car is one of the best places for me to pray. If it’s been awhile since I have taken time to talk with God, I switch the radio off and pray.
  2. Turn the TV off. We’ve talked many times about getting rid of our TV. The first few years of our marriage we didn’t have one at all, and those were the best years! We had so many adventures. Turn it off, and do Step #3.
  3. Be in the moment. This is a hard one sometimes. Being in the moment, appreciating the beauty of nature, or the smiles of your children as they play, all remind us of the God we serve.
  4. Say thank you. Having a roof over your head, food on your table, clothes on your back, and another day to live are more than many in the world have on a day-to-day basis. Thank Him for those dirty dishes, and piles of laundry, they are the result of warm bodies and full bellies.
  5. Pray about the big and little things. God absolutely cares about every part of your day, and He is there in it, so allow Him to be with you. Pray, and pray constantly.
  6. Get up early, or stay up late. I am most alert and creative in the morning, so getting up an hour earlier is usually a good time to read or pray. Staying up later sometimes works too, depending on what kind of day we’ve had! He doesn’t care, either way.
  7. Be still. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Think about how often you are still. If you are like me, I am busy almost constantly. Being still is not something I like to do, or do well. Sit outside, or on the couch, and be still, listening for anything He may want to tell you.
  8. Ask. If you really struggle focusing on Him, or giving up control, or expectations. Pray about those as well. There have been many times I’ve prayed,

    “God, I want to improve my relationship with you, but I am out of energy, I feel exhausted, and I just don’t know how to be closer to you. Show me ways I can do that because I know that my life is so much better when you are at the center.”

Blessings to your day!