I am one of the older women, who is willing to teach the younger women to love their husbands and children. I do not watch the Oprah show much if at all, but I happened to find out about this one particular show and tuned in. The Oprah show that I saw had many women telling the truth about how hard it is to be a mother and that no one had warned them about this. Many of them had dealt with postpartum depression and sorrow at the loss of their identity as a career woman. They are right about the level of difficulty and depression. That is not my complaint with them. These women shared their deepest secrets of low self worth at being "just a stay at home mom," and feeling the snub of professional women towards them. I'm not disagreeing about that either, because I too, doubted myself and had many women "pity me" and trivialize what I was doing. I was disappointed in the lack of pride and professionalism they had for their JOB as wife and mother. They obviously could not have taken their privileged position as a mother very seriously or reverently. On one side of the coin I'm nodding my head in agreement as they mentioned demands placed on them for their time and energy. I myself have been there. I had three small children all in a row, with one being a colicky baby. I was turned off by many of these women for what they called "Their dirty little secrets." One woman admitted that her twins went three weeks without a bath once. She laughed when she told it. I agree that mothering sapped me of stamina when the children were tiny, and I was not perfect by any means, but I have to ask this woman and the other women, "What were you doing, that was so important that it took time away from bathing your children?" Were they on the phone? The computer? or watching tv? Even in nature we see sweet mother cats giving their babies baths and nurturing those little ones. No, I don't have all my ducks in a row and I never have. I've made lots of mistakes in my mothering. It's by God's grace and His answers to so many of my prayers, that the children are turning out so well. We are not finished yet either. Our kids are still between the ages of 17 and 7. We have a long way to go. It's by putting my best efforts and abilities into my mothering that made it wonderful and enjoyable even though it was hard at first. Mothering gets easier as the children become independent. I was a relieved when my son could go potty by himself and get dressed for the day all by himself. I enjoyed seeing him play with his blocks contentedly while I fed or changed baby. There is an ebb and flow to the cycle of mothering. Obviously when a mother has three children three and under she should not be teaching Sunday school each weekend; a mistake I did out of guilt. In desperation I cried and told the church I could not do it any more, out of pure exhaustion. I was replaced by an elderly woman who taught the class with more enthusiasm and energy than I had to give, and she had a concern for those young little lives who needed her talent and wisdom. I was spent. I was the one needing to be revived and nurtured on the weekend. Know this about yourself dear mother of young children; you need times of rest and refreshment. Get a babysitter and go to dinner with your husband. If you can't afford to go out. Put the kids to bed and make a special dinner for the two of you. Watch a movie together that you both enjoy.
I will share a few of my own stories. I will also tell what I did to ensure that I could be a good mother and have a happy home and husband.
The early years of mothering were difficult for me, but being a mother is one of the most rewarding and awesome gifts from God I've been given. I just love being a mother. Mothering goes through many stages. This was one of the hardest afternoons for me back in 1995. I was 35 and my children were ages 8 months, 2 and a half, and 3 and a half. My neighbor Sue took the picture of me with my children. I remember thinking how alone I felt and so unsure of myself. My husband was on a business trip and would be gone for two more weeks to China. Although alone and tired I had to get the kids fed and ready for bed. Harrison and Jessica easily would go right to sleep at 7:45. Victoria would not go to sleep until almost 9:00 pm. Believe me I tried, but she was wide awake. Harrison and Jessica would be up at 4:30 am. I didn't get a whole lot of time to myself; not even to read a book. It was really hard, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I learned so much. I also became more dependent on the Lord for His comfort, support, encouragement and joy. I found a great idea for getting Victoria to stay in bed. I bought some wonderful stories on tape, which she fell asleep to each night. She was happy with this and it gave me time to think, to organize, plan meals, sew, write a letter, veg-out in front of a good movie, call a friend, or be with my man and stay close with him. A mother must have some time to herself to rest and recharge her batteries, so that she can be fresh and ready for tomorrow. A thankful heart is good medicine.
I didn't think I would be as capable with girls has I would be with boys. I expressed my fear to my sister Kelli who had two daughters. I was afraid I couldn't keep up with their hair, ribbons and frilly things. I asked her how I could possibly fix their hair pretty with bows and hair spray for going to church on Sunday. Kelli told me to fix the girls' hair EVERY morning as if we were going out, and then Sunday morning would be a breeze. She was right on about this. I learned to tell my daughters funny stories while I braided their hair in front of the mirror. I called the stories "Herbie and Valerie" stories. Our son Harrison listened to the stories while playing near-by. Each story had a moral. Herbie and Valerie had naughty neighbors named "Chuck and Trudy," who lied and did mean things, while Herbie and Valerie did right, true and noble deeds. The guest mothers on the The reason my children got baths EVERY DAY, sometimes twice a day was because "It was my job." I loved caring for them and having clean smelling sparkling children. Bath time was a luxury for me, because I sat on a chair near the tub while the three of them (when they were quite small) were all in there together and I read a book or did cross-stitch. I could smile at them, wash them, and still have a little piece and creativity for myself. Even if I didn't feel like getting up to change the baby's diaper and begin breakfast, I had to do it and with a good attitude. I knew this. The Lord gave me the ability to be the good mother I longed to be. I called on the Lord for His help to cope and get through each day. I got up 30 minutes earlier each morning just so that I could read my Bible and pray before the children got up. Victoria was a colicky baby. She screamed every waking moment. One day at the grocery store a woman pointedly told me that there was no such thing as colick. One day I longingly looked over at my friend Tammy's little boy who sat happily in the kitchen sink while she bathed him with her broken wrist. I asked her, "Is he always this cheerful and compliant?" She said, "Yep!" (Tammy is pictured above with me and our children). I couldn't believe it. I had forgotten that Harrison, my two year old had been like that too. I kept wondering what it would be like to have a happy baby. Tammy, was beaming with Joy and praising God, even though she had difficulty holding her little one, as she had broken her wrist in a car accident. Also that day her vacuuming cleaner broke and began shooting dirt out of it rather than sucking it up. Her attitude was calm and matter of fact: that they needed a new vacuum and God would provide. And God did provide. We all have things to deal with and it's a joy to see a mother trusting and loving her Lord the way I saw Tammy that day.
There are very hard times, like in the beginning when I didn't get very much sleep. I realized that I began staying up far too late in the evening and waking way too early, just to have time alone. The lack of sleep caused me to feel depressed. I decided to go to bed by 10:00 and wake by 4:30, which gave me all the sleep that I needed, and some time alone. I can remember watching the children like hawks. I never left them alone outside. Even though we lived in a quite and safe neighborhood. I knew that a car could drive up and a person could reach out and grab them faster than lightning, or they could get hurt. Often times I had to go to the bathroom, so I had to bring all of them inside while I went, or I just waited. It's just part of mothering. Sometimes a neighbor would be out and she'd watch them for me, while I made the mad dash inside.
I am not saying I am better than those women on Oprah. I am just saying that I took my job seriously. Notice that I set out the childrens' clothing for them to put on for that day, laying on the dresser in the above photo. After my 4:00 am shower and Bible time, the next thing in the morning I changed the baby's diaper and fed her. The baby went into her walker as the toddlers had their breakfast and while I unloaded the dishwasher, then I started the laundry. After this I brushed the kids' teeth and dressed them, washed their faces and combed their hair. The baby went into the playpen for short time, and the toddlers played with blocks while I swept and vacuumed floors and transferred laundry to the dryer. Another thing I want to mention is I took my phone off the hook, didn't watch tv and didn't get on the computer, unless I was caught up with the house-hold or it was my time= Nap Time for the kids.
By now it would be time for baby's morning nap, I put on a story tape for the toddlers while I rocked the baby to sleep. Next the toddlers and I read stories on the couch for about an hour. We would also kneel at the couch and pray for all the people on our prayer list. The kids would play with toys while I folded clothes. By now baby was awake, needed to be changed and a bottle. We all took turns making baby laugh and smile and playing with her. Baby then went into the walker while I made the toddlers' lunch. After lunch we all went for a walk with baby in the stroller. We'd be gone for about forty-five minutes. Usually we'd play at a playground, then come home. The toddlers colored pictures while I held the baby and read a story to her.
Finally all three children went down for their afternoon nap. For one and a half hours I had time to myself. I could plan dinner, dust, clean toilets, do scrap booking, computer, sew, iron my husband's shirts or read a book. I tried to space out this time and carefully use it wisely. One time the doorbell rang at this time with out of town company who dropped in on me. All three kids woke up when they heard the bell, and were cranky the rest of the day. You just go with the flow when this happens. Believe me, I wanted to cry. After all, I had a lot planned for that precious hour and a half, including a piece of chocolate and a cup of tea for "me time". One thing my sister Sharon used to say is, "Don't people know? --Nap Time is sacred. You don't call or bother a mother with small children, during Nap Time. That's her ONLY TIME!!!" I learned very quickly to take the phone off the hook and place a note over the doorbell.
The children were bathed every evening. Mothers, never waste that bath; save it for bedtime, it makes them sleepy. Babies may need a bath morning and evening or whenever they have a blow-out diaper.
Have a blessed day and enjoy those darling children. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to raise them to love Him, and patience to nurture them and meet their needs. The Lord will bless you. Of course this is a posed picture of the children and me praying. This is something we did every day. I wanted to remember that we prayed for all our needs and thanked God at the couch every day, so I asked my husband to take the picture. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments...are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads, write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates." Proverbs 31:10-11 and 28-29