“Having” kids

I can say straight-away that I am NOT having kids because I think I’m such an amazing mom!  There has never been a point in my mommyhood where I’ve thought, “We should have another child because we’re doing such a great job with these other kids!”

Besides, any good that I’ve witnessed in my children has come from God and His grace, not my efforts.  Sure, I wish I was more intuitive…that I would have stronger convictions about what is and isn’t right to do in certain tricky moments (like when our 4-year-old COMPLETELY melted down at the end of our grocery shopping trip last week while Daddy was away).

Take the other day at swimming lessons, for example.  Generally I hear our 7-year-old son panting very hard on just one length crossing the big pool, but for whatever reason the other day his swim instructor decided to make the kids keep swimming or treading water for the first 15 minutes of the lesson.  I could hardly stomach it.  I wanted to run from the room and cry.  I wanted to snatch my son out of the pool and scold his teacher.  I wanted to comfort him and tell him how amazed I was by his determination.  He was working SO hard!

At the same time, as always, I was plagued by my need to see the situation from multiple angles.  I could understand that the teacher was going over water safety and wanted the kids to have a taste for how to survive if something extreme happened.  Plausibly, my son could have to stay afloat for much more than 15 minutes, in such a case.  Though I hope he never needs to call upon such skills, I certainly want him to be prepared.  So I didn’t pull him from the pool.  I sat there and suffered in silence, praying that he could keep his head above the water, that the teacher would soon let them hold onto the wall, and that his little heart wasn’t going to just burst from the strain.

God answered all of those prayers.  I was so relieved when the kids got to sit on the side of the pool for a while, after which they put life jackets on and practiced floating in a group in emergencies for much of the rest of the lesson.  At the end, however, when they were asked to do a bit more swimming, I was hardly shocked by our son climbing out of the pool and pointing at his abdomen in agony, choking out that it hurt.  I figured that everything had cramped up with his effort, but my heart ached for him.  I remember saying (though I wish I hadn’t), “Yeah, you swam too much today!”  I hope that the instructor didn’t hear me–because I strongly believe in trusting the wisdom and forethought of my children’s educators, and that if I do take issue with something that I would speak to them about it NOT within earshot of the kids.  So, I’m ashamed of my behavior.  Can you say extremely hormonal pregnant lady?

Thankfully, a warm shower helped him relax and uncramp.  Soon he was chattering non-stop and then went off to the kid zone during Little One’s lesson, seemingly fine.

I probably will never reach the point in my mothering career when I am in the middle of a situation and what to do about it is perfectly clear to me.  Though that can sometimes cause me some despair, out of the heat of the moment, I realize that it’s God’s way of keeping my eyes on Him.  He’s giving me the chance to call upon Him.

I’ve had moments when I’ve felt jealous about how black-and-white/cut-and-dry things seem to some other mothers who never seem to waffle or regret how they’ve handled a matter with their child.  At those times, I’ve felt inadequate as a mom…but deep down, I know that God is equipping me sufficiently.  All moms make mistakes, so of COURSE I do.  The one mistake I’ve never made is having these kids.  As the Bible says, children are a blessing from the Lord!  I see over and over how much the Lord blesses me in them, and I pray that I similarly am a blessing to them, despite my weaknesses.

We live in such a two-faced age: let people make decisions for themselves and don’t be judgmental, but at the same time there’s no excuse for parenting shortfalls because of all the resources and research available to us…

I could hardly believe the glares and stares at the grocery store when Little One was tantrumming.  I couldn’t tell if more people seemed annoyed by his appalling behavior or by the fact that I had taken a stand and wasn’t allowing him his turn to ride the penny pony.  What a mean mom!  How dare she even be pregnant when clearly she doesn’t have handle on the kids she already has!  At least that’s what the daggers people shot me seemed to imply.

It’s not like I program these responses into my children.  If anything, I’m trying to program them OUT of my children.  Some lessons are harder learned and take longer for different personalities.  Little One can be so incredibly sweet and well-behaved (especially in a quiet, structured environment), and then so excitable (and naughty) in a boisterous, less-structured environment.  We just keep plugging away, trying to help him learn how to reign in his emotions when he gets overwhelmed like that.  It’s overwhelming for us too, at times, but it’s part of the job God has called us to do with this particular child, so we need to be up to the task.  When we’re not, we call out to Him and He pulls us through it, time and time again.

Soon my mothering abilities will be stretched yet again when I’m called to care for another child–a completely dependent newborn…sometimes I have moments when I allow myself to feel daunted by this, but mostly I’m excited, because I hear God reminding me that children are a blessing…so I know I’m about to blessed yet again.

Sure, there will be more moments when I’m not sure what to do or if I made the “right” decision, and I definitely will make more mistakes–but I’m going to keep looking to the Lord for sustenance and deliverance, and I trust in His promise to provide.

May you be a blessing to your children today, too.

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