Monday, February 26, 2007

Are You Done Yet?

Yesterday in the ladies room at church, I met a mom who was pregnant with her third child. She had a boy and a girl and noticed I had a handful (well almost, we had four instead of five). :) She asked if I ever get the comment that I have enough. I said yes. She said she especially heard it since she already had the "perfect combo" (a boy and a girl), why have more?

An older lady heard our conversation and came over and asked me how many children I planned to have. I told her I wasn't sure. She asked "As many as the Lord gives?" And I said yes.

She then went on to tell me a most sad tale of how she was one of seven children, and none of them got along. In fact one of her brothers had died a few weeks ago and they just found out when another brother was reading the obituary on an airplane newspaper. How her mother and father didn't really like children, so she was left to be cared for by her 14 year old brother, who resented taking care of a baby, so he abused her.

My mom is one of nine children. Her mom too didn't really like having so many children (I know she liked children because she did like us). So my mom ended up caring for her younger brother (who is only 3 years older than I am). My mom did not like seeing her mom "miss out" on so much. Her mom really wanted to travel and never got the chance to. I hear from my mom all the time how I should be done having children (especially now that we have our boy - as if the only reason we had children was to get a boy). The the more I have the less I am able to do fun things (obviously she has not spent a lot of time with us because we have a LOT of fun - maybe I should invite her over for a tickle wrestling match or a pillow fight).

My husband is one of three, and they all fought and really hated each other growing up. Still fight to this day, even though both are Christian!!!

Then I hear other stories of families with 5, 6, 8, 10 children who all get along and love each other and are happy and look forward to having large families of their own. So it is not the number of children that makes a difference in how the children get along. So what is the difference? I really think it is in the mother's attitude.

I know from my mom and from the lady in the bathroom that their mom's did not like having children. My husband's mother had the attitude of raise them up and get them out - I want to get back to the privacy of loving my husband. She had put her husband so far first that the children felt unloved and unwanted (there does need to be a balance between putting your husband above your children and LOVING YOUR CHILDREN).

Are your children fighting all the time? Might you subconsciously be conveying to them that you would rather be doing something else? Are you unconsciously regretting giving up things? Or maybe, you spend so much time doing other things (like scrapbooking, reading or computer time) that your children think you would rather be doing anything than being their mother?

Remember our children go more by our ACTIONS than our words. You may not MEAN to convey a message of "this is my time leave me alone," but if you are seeing your children withdrawal from you, if you are seeing them fight with one another, stop and think about what actions you are doing throughout the day. Are you doing more actions WITH your children or without them?

Our children want TIME with us. Curled up reading a book on the couch. Tickle fights. Pillow fights. Blowing bubbles. Running in the grass together. These things cost nothing in the way of money, but cost a lot of our time and devotion to our children. It is dying to self. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Yes, I love digital scrapbooking, and I love reading books, and I love antique shopping. But right now, those things are to be done with a minimal amount of time.

And when they are done, they need to be done WITH the children. If I want to read a book, read it aloud to them OR have them read their own book quietly next to me. When I digital scrapbook, I have the child whose page I am doing near me and help me pick colors and papers, and I read what I wrote them. Then I print it out and put it in THEIR book (that is just one more reason I love digital scrapbooking, a page for them AND a page for me). I am just learning about antiquing (thank you Kat for sharing!) and can hardly wait to actually go out on a hunt with one of the girls!

Most of my time right now is spent with them training them. We cook together and clean together (although I will admit I need to do MORE of this). And when I am not training them, we are schooling (which is really just real life together - like reading books, learning what bird is in the backyard, gardening - which we are starting this year, etc.). The rest of the time is spent playing. Bubbles, tickles, giggles, balls, pillows!!! :)

I hope this will encourage you to check your heart and see if there are any areas in need of improvement. I know that after writing it, I see lots of areas I can improve and have felt very convicted! Time for some changes! I hope this has encouraged you.


devildogwife said...

It truly is critical that we make sure that we are raising our children in a learning/training home - a home that's filled with love so they feel safe. Living life together can be so much fun. That's not to say that it's always a cake walk, but it's definitely fun most of the time. If we don't model Christ-like behavior, how will they know to be like Christ.

Very good post.

Rebecca said...

I just wanted to say thank you so much for this post! It was a great encouragement for me, as I am convicted in this area. With 6 children 8 1/2 yrs. old and under, including 9 month old twin girls, life can be very hectic with trying to get much of anything done with homeschooling/housework, etc. At times, I hate to admit, I "escape" to the computer world more than I should, and do not spend the quality time with my children as I ought. I really appreciated you taking the time to honestly bring this important subject out I may even print it out for future re-reads! :-)

Sharon said...

You are right on target about the mother's attitude. My mom was the last of 15 children and she didn't have a very good childhood. She grew up in the depression era and when I look at all their pictures, not many are smiling.

We have a lot to be thankful for these days and should be joyful in taking our responsibility in raising children to know the Lord.

I really enjoyed your post.

SK and Family said...

Spot on! I have felt, for a very long time, that I am the product of people who should have never had children--I felt like I was a burden to them. (It may have been the way things were back then, but I do remember having friends whose parents ENJOYED them!).

I strive to make my children feel valued~if I value them now and choose THEM over others (my dh asked if I wanted to invite friends out to eat for my b'day, just adults, but I wanted my boys with me!), then hopefully, in the future, they will return that love and attention.

If, as adults, our boys do not want to spend time with us...well, that would be a sad testament to our parenting skills.


Mariquita (your friend from DSP) said...

Oh Paula, you wrote this for me ;)...I have two cute kids, and they are driving me crazy these days (my 3-yo-boy tortures my 1-yo-little girl, all they long...)...of course the easiest way to deal with this is...the pc and digi scrapping!!! LOLOL

Seriously, thanks for putting things into remainded me a few things about motherhood...

I'm saving this article for the was very important for me to read it...

I'm lucky to have a loving mother, I hope I can be half the mother she's always been to me, for my kids.

You are a great mother...I have so many things to learn from you!!! ;)

(((hugs))) with love,