Okay, I know I am grumpy. I have been coming off of Congestion and Throw-Up-Food-Poisoning-Land and am Permanently Residing in Perpetual-No-Sleep-Babyland, but boy, have I got a small rant to get off my chest today. And this is not directed at the wonderful, thoughtful mothers who read this blog! Thank you to all of you who are working so hard to do the best by your children; my hat is off to you all.
But here goes:
Why is it we act as if having children is such an inconvenience? I have a friend, one of the consultants over at Christopherus (www.christopherushomeschool.org) who has a great quote from somewhere that goes along the lines of, “You are not raising an inconvenience; you are raising a human being.”
So far this week I have heard the most horrifying stories about mothers who feel essentially inconvenienced by their babies and small children. Small baby not sleeping through the night? Hire a small cadre of nurses to help you sleep-train that baby. Don’t want to have your newborn baby dependent and attached on you? Don’t breastfeed, and get a nanny for that small baby even though you stay-at-home full-time. I have more cases, but I will stop there. In all the cases I have heard the mothers made comments such that breastfeeding was inconvenient and that the baby’s sleep patterns needed to be adjusted because they did not want to be up during the night.
(By the way, the above situations are all composites of things I have heard from varying sources the past few months and do not represent any one situation or mother or family.)
The point is this, though. Mature love and parenting involves you putting your child’s welfare ahead of your own. I have said it before, and I will say it again: children are messy, noisy, learning, immature. They don’t sleep like an adult, they don’t reason like an adult, they take a long time to mature and develop (and 7, 8, 9, 10 year-olds are still little! So I am talking 21 years of growth and development!). They get sick, they laugh and cry at the wrong times, they fall down, they fight with each other and with you.
They are also wonderful. They will show you a spiritual world that you may have forgotten existed. They will say the funniest things. No one will love you like a sweet child.
Adjusting to having an infant can be challenging; it can be difficult. I am very sympathetic to mothers needing support and help. The choices we make in these early years set the foundation for discipline, for the school years, and later for the teenaged years. It should make one stop and at least consider different choices rather than just decide on something because it is easiest. You cannot take your “before children life” and just add children and stir. Having children should change your life, don’t you think?
As mothers and fathers, it is our privilege and our responsibility to provide our children with a childhood they hopefully won’t have to recover from. No matter what we do, our children will go their own way as they mature and grow in early adulthood. But, it is our job to give them the footing to start. It is our job to guide. And I don’t know about you, but the development of my children’s physical, emotional, academic and character is worth me being inconvenienced any day or night of the week!
This is why I encourage you all to have a vision, to have a plan, to find joy in the small tasks of being a homemaker, to have a sense of humor to take parenting seriously but not to take your child so seriously, and to think about how you make the most mindful decisions for the WHOLE family. Being a great parent and a mature parent does not mean there are no boundaries between you and your child or that all of your needs should be put on hold. It is also your job to show your children what a loving marriage looks like, how women need friends and how we all have different interests and needs outside of being a mother.
But it does mean that raising your child should be a wonderful journey with the best intentions for your child in mind. Even if it requires a bit of sacrifice. The best things often do.
On that note – Live BIG and love your children!