Ever since I became a mom I've been asking other parents advice. I've wanted to know how to be a great mom. A mom who's kids love her, respect her, desire her company. A mom who showed them Jesus, a mom who wasn't perfect but trained them carefully.
In our society now, there isn't a community of women teaching and training younger moms. And sadly young moms don't seek advice or even listen to it for that matter. It makes me sad that when a gal gets pregnant she goes to the bookstore for advice before talking with other seasoned moms around her.
I'm truly fortunate to know some really amazing moms who have been through "the trenches" with little ones and who have lots of wisdom to share.
Let me introduce you to Whitney. I met her through Lincoln Christian school back in 2005. She's one of those teachers who everyone likes, she has the respect of her students and faculty alike. She's warm, kind and I've always felt drawn to her. I've always wanted to know her better and to learn from her! She has an amazing husband and 2 awesome young men she raised. To me she's been successful in motherhood. Her boys love her, each other and Jesus. What a combo! Join me for an interview with January's Seasoned mom:
Q- Tell me about your transition into motherhood
A- I went back to work after 6 weeks, I was there for a week and I said I can't do this anymore! I have to be with my child, I have to find a way. Financially there was no way, but through prayer I said God you can make a way for us, I'm supposed to be a mother, so show me how I'm supposed to do that. I think that in itself made it undaunting to me, I never felt like it was a rough day, of course I say that- I had days that were rough. But I never regretted staying home. Even those days when we had no car and no way to get anywhere because we went to a 1 car family. I kept telling my husband Gods going to make a way and every month we always had our bills paid. And all the sacrifice was worth it!
Q- What was your daily schedule like with your baby?
A- My first son Kent was my late sleeper. I say God must have known that I needed any easy baby so that when the next one came around I would be humbled. Because I thought oh I'm a great mom, I'm so good at this, man I could have 40 kids- I'd be fine! Then Cole came along and I thought oh man I'm a horrible mom and I don't need to have anymore children.
Kent would sleep in late, because I kept him up late. And now looking back I think I would have done that differently. Just because it did take away a lot of time from husband. I mean we had time together, but not that quality time. I would stay up late and have time to myself but not time with my just husband.
The schedule was get Kent up around 7 or 8, eat breakfast and when he was little he was really into puzzles, and building things so we would spend the majority of our time playing. I just remember spending my time with him and I don't remember spending time with the TV. And it definitely was a conscious choice. I think those were building blocks to my relationship with him before his brother came along. When his brother did come he was in the hospital for 50 days because he came premature, the doctors told us he wouldn't live and then we battled all those thoughts. We prayed over him Jeremiah 29:11, we were young Christians at that time, but God showed us he was our child and he's got great work and plans for Cole. That's when my faith started building, and all that seed I had planted into Kent he knew that he was loved. That was when motherhood took on a whole new meaning to me, those trying times, when I had to rely on God outside of myself, to know that He was in control.
Once we brought Cole home he was in and out of the hospital for months, on a heart monitor, on breathing machines- so those first 2 years with him were really trying. And he didn't sleep and when he did you were afraid he was going to not wake up because all of the bad reports, it was overcoming fear and speaking the Word. As far as schedule there was no schedule, it was whatever Cole wanted to do, I remember getting up early or trying to get up earlier then they did so I could have time with The Lord and some days that was really hard because we never knew which schedule Cole was going to be on! Doctors wouldn't allow us to take Cole to church so we went about 6 months without going to church and there was no online church back then, it was me trying to feed my own soul. Sometimes it was dark, dark places when I felt like I needed a friend, I felt isolated but I felt The Lord telling me I had him, I had my husband, my mom and my kids. So who are you going to rely on? Who are you going to trust? So that was my growing time with God, but it was also my time with my kids to really invest with them.
Q- What were some of the things you prayed over your children?
A- I always prayed Jeremiah 29:11, that's my go to scripture because I believe with both of them God said "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Also Proverbs 3:5- Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. I always prayed Isaiah 54:13- "All your children shall be taught of The Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children" I always wanted peace in our home because my home was not one of peace. I would also get out books and pray specific devotions over them.
Q- Tell me what life was like with a family full of boys
A- I grew up with 1 brother, 2 sisters and my mom. My brother is very passive, he's a great role model and a great leader but he is very passive when it comes to women. So I kind of expected that, and that's not how it was. My husband is extremely strong, the alpha male, his parents yelled in his home, so we had to have lots of talks privately about the fact that we aren't going to raise our voices at our children, we aren't going to yell at them. We had lots of talks about the differencing in parenting style. But when the boys started getting older they were so aggressive, they would want to hit and fight constantly, let's wrestle, let's go outside. The fighting really bothered me, I would say stop fighting, quit it, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything to each other. You know all those things you said you would never say when you became a parent, and here I am saying those things over and over to them. And as they got older it just escalated, it's just part of being a boy. I would read about it, I would ask other people about it, is this normal? But my husband would say they are fine, that's what boys do. They were never aggressive to me, we set those boundaries, that was my husbands thing- he said they were never allowed to be rough with me or hurt me. He said if you hurt your mom I'm going to hurt you. My husband is very protective to me even to this day. Now my boys aren't as rough with each other, they are more competitive. But it's a guy thing. It's a whole different world, but I think you have to let them be physical. Sometimes my husband would say go run around the yard (we have 5 acres) and they would say where? He would say the whole fence line, just run the fence line!
Q- What were specific characteristics that you consciously taught your children?
A- One of the things I told my kids early on and it was something my mom told me "Don't act good, BE good" never be an actor, always be who you were called to be and be confident there's nothing wrong with that. I wanted them to be good sportsmen, I wanted them to be funny, because my husband is really funny. Growing up they would be funny, but at the wrong time- and my husband would tell them- being funny is all about timing, you have to have good timing. They are personable, I wanted them to be good with people and have good people skills. In our group of friends, most of the other couples didn't have kids yet or had young kids, but we still brought them around so that they were around adults a lot. They knew about adult talk so they learned how to tell stories. And I think that's part of being around adults. Too many times parents separate their kids and go out with their friends and kids don't get to hang around with those friends. I think that's important, having your kids socialize with other adults is just as important as having them socialize with other kids. We also taught them good leadership skills, we would talk to them about how other people look up to them. I explained to them that I wanted the world to look at me and see something different. Anytime we would see things out of the ordinary, we would bring it back to leadership skill. Like in sports, why do you need a quarterback? Because you always need a leader on the field- if no ones leading then everyone's confused. We would talk about being a silent leader, you don't always need to be the quarterback, sometimes people are looking for your character outside of that role. How do you act when you don't get chosen for the homecoming court, when you don't get all those positions. Are you still a good leader?
Q- If you could give one piece of advice to a new mom what would it be?
A- Make sure you allow your children to see that you aren't perfect. And if you were perfect, find some people that you trust who've made some bad decisions that have turned out to be great people and let your kids experience communication with them as they get older. Especially in their teenage years. Even when they are little, admit your mistakes to your kids. Too many times parents try to make themselves be perfect, I made that mistake with some of my past and not bringing it up earlier. It came to bite me in the butt when my kids got older. Kent said I wish you would have told me that before, but I thought I was saving him from having to know about my past. I wasn't trying to hide anything, but I thought he didn't need to know because I thought it might change who he was, well it would have changed who he was, but it would have for the better.
Wow! Aren't you loving this? Such amazing insight. Check back for part 2.