Thursday, February 19, 2009

Parenting is All About Seasons

Just about a year ago, our sons had just started playing together. Not playing with intermittent fighting, not playing with mom refereeing, but REALLY playing together-- imaginations running wild, rules and games that only the two of them know, building things side by side, wrestling like young lions... what a blast! I remember what a relief this was for me as a mom of three kids five & under-- that they could occupy themselves happily for longer stretches of time. It is still a great joy to me to hear and see our sons enjoying each other's company and learning together through large portions of each day.

A few months ago, I was dealing with a four year old who politely talked back and a seven month old who was eating dirt on a semi-regular basis. :) Now, just a few months later, my four-year-old is learning self-control and is learning to express his desires respectfully, and my eleven-month-old is walking. So he has better things to do than eat dirt now.

SEASONS COME & GO
This is a very rambly way of saying that this business of parenting changes like seasons. Some seasons last longer than others. Some seasons are easy, some are sweet. Some are rough, and some pass quicker than you'd like. Some are fun, and some you just do what you have to to get through. But it's all about seasons. And just about the time I get "used to" a certain season, it's gone.

WHAT HELPS ME ENDURE?
For me, flexibility and a willingness to keep on learning are essential. I have to be willing to flex with the times... for example, letting less crucial things go when there's too much to do, or taking on new challenges when they arise.

Six years ago, for me, life was all about Babywise & breastfeeding. Then, I focused in on making baby food from scratch (which, like breastfeeding, seemed so difficult at the time, but is now second nature). Next up was learning & researching biblical discipline. Then managing more than one child. Then within a couple years, I was researching homeschooling in a general way. Then I began looking at specific curricula and methods. Two years ago, I began homeschooling (while disciplining a 2 year old and nursing a new baby) and started hearing about cloth diapering.

Now, I'm reading about educational theories, researching differences between boys & girls, and starting to learn about parenting older children and adolescents, while continuing to do most of those things in the last paragraph. But those things aren't near as taxing and many of them don't require the careful attention that they did when I first started doing each thing.

If we as moms are willing to keep learning, then those things that we learn will benefit not only that first child, but any subsequent children that come along. And we can keep adding to that knowledge and getting better in each area as time passes.

What I'm driving at is this:

(1) No one just "zaps" into being capable as a mother all at one time. (And I'm not trying to act like I have it all together, by any means... but even those things that I do have "together" didn't happen all at once!) It comes over time-- God doesn't just *ZAP* you into a woman who knows how to homeschool, breastfeed, handle tantrums, offer hospitality, and make your own babyfood (or whatever kind of women you are or will be)... it happens over time. Like Sarah said SO eloquently expressing this very idea,

Somehow, in our six short years of parenting, we have learned to be productive despite little hands and feet getting in the way. We have grown in patience and ability.
You get better at things the more you do them... and things that were once difficult become second nature and no longer seem as monumental as they did the first or even second go rounds.

And... (2) in parenting seasons, things wax and wane. Some things come and go over and over (like breastfeeding, tantrums, and teaching the alphabet). Some of these are things that you learn once and never have to re-learn (like how to make your own babyfood or use cloth diapers... if you ever want to learn in the first place, LOL), some things have to be adjusted as you go (like teaching different students), and some things may be totally new (particularly tackling new developmental stages with that first guinea pig child). But the pressures and demands wax and wane-- parenting is an adventure!

Truly, children are a blessing-- and God uses the seasons of parenting to refine and discipline us. So take heart! If you are a new mom or in a new season, what you are learning now will benefit you later... and God will use it to sharpen, shape, and sanctify you. He is faithful to gently lead young mothers, and He will be faithful to lead you if you look to Him.

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