Treading water is just about the best description of motherhood and the stage we’re in right now. I love when Jim Gaffigan jokes about having four kids. “You know what it’s like having a fourth kid? Imagine you’re drowning, then someone hands you a baby.” We used that line over and over again…until we had five kids! And although we laughed about it – it was all too true.
I came across this quote recently and it touched my heart.
It spoke to me. Probably because of my stage of life but partly because it speaks truth. Yes, treading water is a necessary part of swimming, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. What it does is buys you time and energy until you can continue swimming. The hard part is we start treading water and we never seem to stop. And all the while we start getting frustrated that we’re treading at all and then we start to swallow water. Perhaps the question starts to cross your mind, “Why did I even jump in?!” Or you question if you even know how to swim.
We forget. We know how to swim. We love to swim. But swimming in waves has its challenges, so we tread. Luckily, waves change. Treading water today, this week, or this month doesn’t mean we won’t be able to swim soon. And it’s once we start swimming that we’re reminded just how much we truly love it.
This picture makes me laugh – mostly because it portrays Bennett perfectly. First of all, I was taking a picture of something else and he was off to the side, being completely silly and totally entertained with himself. Of course the minute I turned the camera to him he did some fancy dance moves and then pretended to be embarrassed and took off running with his long hair bouncing as he made his way across the grass.
He’s funny. He’s an entertainer. He’s animated. He’s emotional. He’s short fused. All of which makes him fun to be around and exhausting on most accounts. It is my daily struggle to remain patient with his antics. I kept telling myself he would grow out of this “stage” which is what got me through so many days. I’ve come to realize, it’s not a stage – it’s a personality. And I can’t expect him to grow out of it, we need to learn to manage it. Parenting is a journey and every kid seems to be on their road.
This guy is just skipping down his road and I’m just trying to keep up!
Let them be little and let them eat powdered doughnuts!
This is where the first child and fifth child start to grow up a little differently. The younger me, with one child would’ve said it’s too messy (note the shelf of crumbs on his shirt) and not breakfast worthy. The older me recognizes that his face can be washed and the floor can be swept so when his brother shared his doughnut I thought, “Wow – he shared without even being asked!”
I still don’t think it’s breakfast worthy but once in a while isn’t doing any harm, right?! I see why parents start to relax on things such as this. It’s not because they’re lazy or have given up on parenting – its because they…relax. It’s key. Which I’m sure my parents thought over and over again as they saw me raising my children. And I’m sure most people in the grandparent stage would say the same about their kids raising kids. We over think. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We’re unsure as to what is best. When really, we all just need to relax a little bit. And I think you can relax and still run an organized and respectful home. I’m learning the balance.
Back to doughnut boy – his face was priceless after he shoved the whole doughnut in his mouth (in which only half the doughnut actually made it in his mouth) only to realize it was a little dry and harder to swallow than other food. And not surprisingly one powdered doughnut is never enough!
We’ve got another one at the piano. He loves music. He enjoys tinkering on the piano. Not surprising, he doesn’t love practicing his lessons (which may or may not be due to the fact that I’m the one giving him instruction!)
He wants to know why I’m making him play. Isn’t it the story of every kid across America to say that they took lessons at some point in their life and then quit?! Of course, I’m not having him play for that reason.
I tried explaining to him the method to our madness.
It is our ultimate goal to raise well-rounded, confident, kind kids who know their Lord and Savior. Sounds simple enough. But when it comes to raising kids, I’m fully aware, I am no expert – instead I am practicing parenting. I’ve got my ideas and none of them proven. So I practice parenting on my kids. I push things I believe strongly in and then at times I realize somethings not working so I have to change it up. What works with one kid doesn’t work with other kids. It can be chaotic and frustrating at times, but we continue to work towards our goal.
As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of doing enough. We throw them in everything to see what sticks. And even after putting all our time and energy in, we still feel like we didn’t do all we could to cultivate their talents.
I found this online and it put my mind at ease.
It’s All in the Agar.
Agar is that jelly stuff that you put in Petri dishes to grow bacteria and other wonderfully intriguing things. Often, parents will contact Mensa worried about how to make sure their child is learning. “But how can I teach him?” they ask. The answer is as simple as agar: just make sure the environment is right for growing.
You do not need the latest educational toy or gadget. You do not need to invest in tutors and expensive summer programs. Just make sure the home is a an agar-rich environment, full of reading material, access to appropriate creative materials, and, the most precious resource of all, time to explore.
I fully believe this. This is how we’re going to create well-rounded children – by creating an environment right for growing and giving them time to explore.
Steve and I hit a major milestone in our parenting journey yesterday. Briggs turned 18 months a few days back which just so happens to be the magical age where kids can attend the nursery class at church. We have been counting down this day for some time and we walked with an extra skip in our step yesterday morning. (We’ve been going in the last couple weeks with him to get him used to it.) But with most things that you look forward to with great anticipation – reality rarely meets our lofty expectations.
Steve and I both know that Briggs is a needy/attached child. But something in me wanted to believe we could drop him off and enjoy church without interruptions. The reality was I dropped him off and made a beeline to the door when he wasn’t looking. The minute he noticed I was gone he was crying and screaming. The bandaid had been ripped off, right? We were in the clear…we were, until minutes later I could hear him from down the hallway. I waited it out a little longer hoping they could get him calmed down. But as much as I wanted an interruption-free Sunday, I couldn’t stand the thought of the poor teachers trying to console my child for the duration of the class.
I ended up bailing them out and I sat on the floor surrounded by toys with Briggs right next to me. When I had to leave to go teach a lesson, Steve took my spot on the floor, and Briggs kept a healthy two foot radius. I realize it was wishful thinking to hope that he would enjoy nursery tear-free. In reality, Steve and I will probably drop him off each week with new and more sophisticated tactics to get him to stay and after he cries for a good amount of time, we will relieve the teachers and enjoy our spot on the floor. Luckily, Briggs isn’t alone. He has a little buddy who is just as nervous in there and I’m hoping they can figure it out together.
Here’s a picture – not from Sunday because he was grumpy pants, but from a couple days prior to show he really does have a fun happy side – it’s just unfortunate that the only people who get to see that usually are the people that live in our home! Wish us luck – and the nursery leaders! 🙂