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Today I had a really really hard day with my 2.5 year old demonstrating for me why they coined the term terrible twos. I am talking beating up her little friend, kicking me in the stomach, screaming temper tantrums dumping out my makeup on my bed AGAIN among several other things. It was just a really hard day. And I don't know why she was acting like this, its new. And I find that no two experts agree, I can't draw from my childhood for advice on child rearing because although my parents really loved me I grew up in a super strict, harsh patriarchal home. So I am left feeling ill equipped and days like today feeling a bit like a failure.. and then out of the blue God gives me a little love letter.
Below is the text from that blog. It was the most timely post I have ever seen and I feel a little better.
"If I could somehow travel back in time and give a message to my younger momma self, I would grab hold of my shoulders, look myself in the eye, and say Ė Girl, RELAX!
I would tell myself to stop worrying about getting it right, to stop that quest for the one, right way to be a good mother. I would say ó For goodnessí sake, quit it with all the books! And especially the books by the authors who claim to have figured it out. And for all thatís holy and good, stop it with the authors who promise their way is Godís chosen parenting method! Iíd grab those books right out of my younger momma selfís hands and throw them straight into a bonfire and roast marshmallows over the flames.
Because there is no one right way to parent children. And if God felt so strongly about a particular parenting method, Iím pretty sure He would have nudged Moses or Solomon or Paul or Timothy or somebody to write it down in the Book that does include all that is near and dear to His heart.
I would tell myself ó Stop feeling guilty for napping on the couch with your infant sleeping on your chest! No, youíre not ruining her sleep patterns forever! Because that girl is a teenager now, and TRUST ME, she can get herself to sleep and keep herself asleep until I force her to get out of her bed on a Saturday morning.
I would tell myself to stop fretting about whether I should nurse that boy again so soon after his last feeding, to stop beating myself up over not sticking to a schedule. Because in a BLINK, a FLASH, he will be ten years old. And if I could actually travel back in time, I would beg my younger momma self to let me hold this one for just a few more minutes because I miss his little head nuzzled in my neck and I miss the smell of baby shampoo on his head and I miss his sweet milk breath as I try to burp him.
And when ten years have gone by ó Iíll tell my younger momma self ó you wonít even remember whether he slept six hours or eight hours at night when he was nine months old. And nobody can tell by watching the stinky, sweaty boys on the soccer field which boys cluster-fed and nursed to sleep and which boys were on a more predictable nursing routine. It. Just. Wonít. Matter.
Whether you take away the pacifier at six months or one year or eighteen months ó nope, it doesnít matter. Whether you potty train at two or three or have one who refuses to go until you tell him he isnít allowed to turn FIVE, for heavenís sakes, unless he goes in the potty ó when theyíre reading books and writing essays and wearing shoes nearly as big as yours, it just wonít matter.
When my magic time capsule lands in the park and I see my younger momma self trying to get a rambunctious preschool boy to get down off the slide and into the car, I would give myself a big oleí hug and tell myself not to make it a battle of wills. I would encourage myself to make it a fun game, to keep a sense of humor. I would tell myself to stop worrying about whether Iím letting him win because when his momma is smiling and loving on him and not making every little thing a big obedience issue, we all win.
I would tell my younger momma self that itís not my job to fashion perfect little children, molding their behavior to look just right. I would tell myself to lighten up, that shaping hearts is Godís job and He can handle it much better than I can, thankyouverymuch. Iíd tell myself to love them, teach them, consistently repeat over and over the lessons they need to learn, and then Iíd tell myself to trust God to really work in them. Trust Him.
And when my time travels delivered me to the middle of my living room, beside a three-year-old having a massive tantrum about the most ridiculous thing, Iíd tell myself to not take it personally. That there are many more where that one came from and if Iím going to take every one personally, itís going to be a long, long haul. Iíd nudge myself on the shoulder and whisper ó Pick up that kid and hug her. Sheís tired and grumpy and sheís learning how to handle not getting her way. Donít give in and give her what sheís throwing a fit about, but hug her and kiss her and tell her you know itís hard when we canít have what we want. Let her be sad about it for a few minutes. And then tell her itís time to suck it up and move on. Then play some music and dance with her. And laugh. Laughter makes everything better.
Iíd give my younger momma self permission to be imperfect and have imperfect children. Iíd tell myself to stop spending so much time correcting and training and just ENJOY the children. Dance more. Giggle more. Play more.
Iíd be tempted to grab a megaphone and shout ó Savor this! Itís going to fly by! I know every old person you see in WalMart tells you that, but itís TRUE! Slow down. Commit these moments to memory. Stop worrying about getting it all right and just LIVE IT! Live the heck out of each moment!
And when youíre too tired to Carpe Diem, give yourself a little mercy and a nap and some chocolate. Thatís OK too. Some days itís enough just to keep everyone alive.
Finally, Iíd tell myself to ask for help. To invite friends over even if the house is messy. To be real with people. Iíd say Ė You donít have it all together. And itís ok if people know that. Just breathe. And admit you need help sometimes. Because we all do.
Yeah, if I could somehow travel back in time and sit down for coffee with my younger momma self, Iíd say Ė Take care of yourself. Love your children ó unconditionally love them. Go after their hearts. Give HEAPS of grace to yourself and your kids. And donít sweat the small stuff.
I've read that! It's very sweet <3 Sometimes I do think parents are hard on themselves AND their kids because they are trying to be perfect parents and they think to be perfect parents they need to beat (physically or metaphorically) their children into being perfect children. How stressful that must be for a parent AND child.
If you need some gentle ideas, though, about your situation, you should check out the AP board. You don't have to take any one mama's advice (or books advice, for that matter!) but sometimes it's nice to get good ideas and find that one that clicks and makes you think "oh, that would totally work for my family!". I think if someone is going to look for parenting advice, that is what they have to do. It's not about forcing yourself to take advice you HOPE is right, it's about finding advice that feels right in your heart that you just hadn't thought of yet, and following your heart.
Check out the Attachment Parenting Board for Effective Parenting Solutions.
PM me if have questions about autism, TTC gender swaying, natural childbirth, going "vaccine-free", or if you are looking for gentle discipline advice.
The words are so true. I look at my three year old daughter and the individual person that she has become and know that she won't be with me forever wanting me to play dolls with her. ok now the hormones have totally kicked in and I'm tearing up.
Aww thanks so much for sharing. I need to remind myself of these things regularly. It is easy to get caught up in every little parenting decision and worry endlessly about how your children will turn out. But I have realized that when you spend so much time obsessing and worrying about this stuff you aren't really enjoying life with your children.
Thanks so much *Kiliki* for my awesome summer siggie!