Dear mom of little ones,
I know that life right now feels a little crazy.
Between interrupted sleep, children’s antics, unpredictable moods, and being on call for your child 24/7, it is easy to get neurotic. And when children are not responding to your discipline and training on any given day, or worse, acting out in anger and showing signs of aggression and you-are-secretly-sure-this-one-will-end-up-in-jail-with-that-temper…it is easy to give way to fear.
You longingly look forward to the time of life when the kids are just a little older. You see other women–women who look totally put together and calm, eating a casual lunch with friends, smiling, laughing and enjoying life–and you contrast it with your own as you look around your sippy cup and toy strewn living room and wonder when will I ever “go out” and have time for me again? Where are my friends? How did I get here? Are other women as lonely? Where is God in all of this? How will my children turn out? Motherhood is scary and I feel so alone.
The little years are a time of just holding on. It is sometimes survival mode. I promise, you will emerge on the other side with sanity.
I want to give you some advice that I wish someone had told me 20 years ago.
1. Raising your kids well is the hardest job you’ll ever do. I promise. It is also the most important job you’ll ever do.
2. Realize that God’s word trumps all other parenting manuals. Although parenting books are helpful and can give you tidbits of insight, they are often more “thorough” than the word of God. And when things are someone’s opinion, it should be reguarded as just that–opinion. God’s word is the book that we should cling to for dear life. Study God’s word and see what He wants for you and your children. He knows what’s best for us better than Dr. Spock.
3. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your child. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You don’t have to run your toddler wild with activity. I know you feel the strong pull to compare your kids with other people’s children, but comparison never ends well. You’ll end up discouraged and your kids will end up feeling pressured to perform. I promise that your kids will be just fine if they aren’t learning a foreign language as a toddler, or you don’t sign them up for baby LaCrosse. Let your kids play in the sunshine, with water, dirt and a shovel. Give them alone time with their thoughts.
4. Be reasonable about what God expects from you. You aren’t perfect. You never will be. Don’t focus so heavily on your own deficiencies. Focus on God’s ability. You can do this, this parenting thing, through Christ who gives you the strength. He’ll give you the grace to do what He’s called you to do. Thank God that in his love and mercy, we are “accepted in the beloved” even though we are thoroughly flawed.
5. Spend your time on what matters. In the end, things that seem monumental now, will not matter. I promise, your child will be potty trained by the time he goes to college. Spend mental time and energy on becoming what God values. “Hear and do” His word. Focus on teaching your child about your God. Who cares what the Joneses up the street think you and your child should be? What matters is what God says we should be.
Not sure what matters? Here are a few examples:
1. God wants you to love Him with all of your heart, so you can teach your kids to do the same. Deut. 6:6,7
2. God wants you to be a hearer and doer of His word. It is easy to read and forget! Keep God’s simple commands in front of you and plan to do them. James 1:22, 1 John 2:3-4
3. Our God-given assignment is to love our children and husband. Titus 2:4
4. As we serve our family in the home, our lifestyle should be characterized by these basics from Titus 2:5:
- self control
- working and serving in the home vs. being lazy
- active kindness to others
- submissive hearts toward our husband.
Why? The reason for all this? “So that no one will malign the word of God.”
5. If you are a mom, you are a teacher whether you like it or not. You need to actively share God’s word with your kids. (Deut. 6:6,7, Proverbs 1:8, 6:20, Ephesians 6:4) This should be as normal as talking about what you are going to do today or the weather. (Also, by not talking about God, you are still teaching, but in the negative sense.)
Statements like these can be part of your everyday talk to toddlers:
“Oh, Rebekah, remember that Jesus was kind and did right by us, and we need to be kind to others.”
“Emily, you can’t hold a grudge, because God forgave us and we must forgive others.”
“Matthew, hitting is never okay. God says that He”ll repay when someone wrongs you. You don’t take matters into your own hands like that.”
If we just focus on the basics of scripture, instead of being distracted by all the “shiny things” around us that lure us away from the basics, life would become more simple and our purpose clearer.
You can do this, with God’s grace and an undivided heart! I promise. God will help you when you look to Him. He’s not going to leave you helpless.
(Do you know another young mom who could benefit from this letter? Consider encouraging her by sending her this link or sharing using the social media share tools below. )