I was asked to give a devotional at a baby shower last night....here is what I shared from my short 9 months of mothering:
I am in the midst of parenting (as you know) so I want to encourage you Jill with a few words from my own – very brief – personal experience. Soon you’ll be in the midst of motherhood as well!
My first piece of advice is to “BE PRESENT”
Parenthood is for such a short time. Yes being a parent is forever, but the 3 a.m., dirty diapers, runny noses, crawling, bathing, feeding….that kind of parenthood is for such a short time. And you’ll hear from everyone that it goes by fast…it really does. So don’t wish it away. That might be hard to imagine now, but you may find yourself wishing for the next stage….as soon as he sleeps through the night, as soon as he eats table food, as soon as he crawls or walk or sits up or rolls over or talks or can feed himself or is potty trained.
“As soon as” will be here before you know it. And then it will be gone.
In the coming months you might find yourself saying such things as: we don’t eat pet food, we don’t climb on the dishwasher door, what’s in your mouth? Or my favorite: “There is only one mom in this house and it’s not you!”
Laugh at yourself, your son and remember….it’s for such a short time that you’ll be able to guide and influence his every action. Having little ones is exhausting and busy and a new adventure every day. But it is only for a season. So be present….in the hard, funny and joy-filled moments. Don’t wish them away….thank God you get to experience each and every one.
My second piece of advice is “NO GUILT”
God gives us these beautiful little babies to hold, love, encourage, teach, and raise to the best of our abilities. But they are his children. They are a gift from him and we have the privilege of pouring into their hearts, minds and lives all that we can. But that takes time and energy. In order to do this well, you won’t be able to do everything you are doing now.
I was recently listening to Dr. Laura on Dobson’s Focus on the Family program and she had some strong thoughts about the role of motherhood in the family. Dr. Laura has books, awards, and degrees, but always introduces herself as “my kid’s mom.” She said, “To my dying day I will say that the most import thing I’ve ever done, that I almost missed out on, is to be my kid’s mom.”
Saying no, allows you to be your kid’s mom. Saying no allows you to do the important work of raising your child. Saying no to other things means you’re saying yes to little Marky Mark. Saying no – and not feeling guilty about it – provides you with more time and energy to give to your little guy.
There’s no guilt in saying no. There’s no guilt in going to bed while it’s still light out. Almost every night in fact Ryan and I go to sleep while it is still light out. For awhile I felt lazy….old….disappointed in myself….but then I reminded myself that this is just for a short time. To be the best mom I can be, I need to go to bed early so I can get up early to love and care for my little man. There’s no guilt in limiting my commitments, because as I said before, this season will be gone in the blink of an eye and soon our boys will be sleeping in until noon.
My third piece of advice is “MARRIAGE FIRST”
I heard an author say the other day, “The strength of your parent/child relationship is dependent on the quality of the husband/wife relationship. You can try to be a sacrificial mother, but you will never be a better mom than what you are as a wife.”
Again, I think it is worth repeating, “The quality of mother/child relationship is dependent on the quality of the husband/wife relationship.”In order to be the best mom you can be Jill, first strive to be the best wife to Mark that you can be. Love him, respect him, keep him a priority above your babies, and your children will know what it means to be raised in a stable, loving home environment. They will not question whether or not mom and dad love each other – they will observe it in the things you say and do.
Your son will need you – he will be very dependent on you. But Mark needs you too. In order to maintain a quality relationship with Mark, keep your marriage first. Go on dates. Spend time sitting on the couch together. Talk about things other than the baby (even though that’s really hard) and ask him questions about his work and other relationships.
I heard a counselor say one time that when couples are having trouble with their kids, he always asks how their marriage is doing. Clearly, there is a direct correlation between your marriage and your relationships with your kids. One of my favorite quotes is, “Marriage is hard but good marriages are harder.” It takes time and effort to put your marriage first, but your kids will love you for it.
My fourth piece of advice is to “ASK FOR HELP”
The only way you’ll be able to be present, have no guilt and keep your marriage first is to ask for help. And I don’t mean help from grandparents (which is wonderful) or from friends, but I mean asking the Lord for help.
I recall hearing one time that when Ruth Graham Bell’s children were little, the prayer she most often prayed as she was running up and down the stairs was, “Help me Lord, Help me Lord.” It’s a prayer I utter almost daily. Seek to have ongoing communication with the Lord – whether that’s praying in bed, praying in the shower, praying while changing diapers or praying in the kitchen. The challenges of motherhood should keep us talking to our creator.
There are many more pieces of motherly advice, but these are just a few things I’m learning as a young mom. Jill, I’m thrilled for you and Mark and I look forward to meeting the newest member of your family!