And when I come up against a challenge? I’m the type that reads. Reads a ton. Mostly books, sometimes blogs, soaking up any and all inspiration I can get my hands on. So, needless to say, I have read a pretty silly amount of parenting books.
It seems that I feel the need to search for new parenting inspiration about every six months. It’s like a cycle. I get to a breaking point with a child–usually my oldest, since every stage she has gone through is all uncharted territory!–where I have NO idea how to parent through a particular challenge. So what do I do? I get my book, read it, implement it and CHOIRS SING! IN MY LOVING HOME!
For a month. Maybe.
The staying power of all my parenting knowledge? Doesn’t have a great track record.
There have been little tidbits I have soaked up along my mothering way that have grabbed onto my heart and haven’t let go since. I can’t forget these tidbits. Me and the tidbits are tight.
For example, some of THE BEST parenting advice I have ever heard came from my husband’s grandmother, after I had my first baby. It is this: “Common sense and inspiration.” This is how I can figure out every parenting challenge. Pure and simple.
A fairly recent tidbit that has grabbed my heart came from a blog post at Momastery titled “2011 Lesson #2: Don’t Carpe Diem.” If you haven’t read this yet? YOU MUST. (Seriously. If the rest of this post is going to make any sense? You’re gonna have to read it.)
This post gave me words to connect to those beautiful moments I have with my children where time stands still: “chronos” & “kairos.” I leave chronos–or the time we live in–in these beautiful moments and enter kairos–which is God’s time.
I often struggle with the feeling that I’m not a very good mother.
But. After my heart acquired the “chronos and kairos” tidbit and combined it with a couple other tidbits I will share momentarily…I discovered that, yes, I AM A GOOD MOTHER.
Here’s the story:I often get to the end of my day and as I say my evening prayers my mind naturally wanders to everything I did WRONG that day as a mom. And so I go to bed feeling like a lousy wife and mother. Not fun to feel like a failure. Every night.
(Tidbit alert!) I learned from going through counseling for Postpartum Depression after my third baby, as I think about my day every night, to mentally put all the negative things that c0me to mind in a box, tape it up and hand it over to God, asking him to take it from me because I can’t keep it; it’s only weighing me down.
(Tidbit #2!) I also learned from “The Joyful Mother” to, at the end of the day, also mentally go through all the things I did RIGHT as a mother that day and to relish in those memories.
And this is where my chronos and kairos tidbits tie in: I think of each child and scan through my day to see if I had any “kairos” moments with them that day.
I’ve found that it’s easier for me to remember kairos moments of the day with my younger children. I think this may be because I have to do almost everything FOR them—diaper/clothes changing, quiet moments with my baby as she looks into my eyes and touches my face while she eats, fun conversations with my toddler as he eats, reading stories and snuggling before naps and bedtime— and so there are just more opportunities to have kairos moments.
With my two oldest I sometimes can’t think of any kairos moments I had with them that day! I don’t like that! My oldest is in school all day and my second is pretty independent. So they don’t need me to help them with much anymore, directly. But doing this mental exercise every night helps me commit to MAKE those moments happen the next day. I just have to go out of my way to make it happen.
How have I been able to easily make these moments happen, especially with my older children? You guessed it! A tidbit. This one comes from “A Mother’s Book of Secrets,” a book co-written by a mother and daughter duo–the mom is a mother of 9, the daughter a mother of 5— and is composed of short, easy to read essays and stories on motherhood. And this is my last tidbit for the day:
When my children talk to me I strive to match the sparkle they have in THEIR eyes with MY eyes. This requires me to completely stop whatever I am doing, get down on their level, look in their eyes and really listen. I have to get genuinely curious about what they are saying.
And guess what? Magic happens. Kairos–God’s time.
And I am a good mother.