I am sure I have many, many more lessons to learn as a mother between now and let's see....oh, 2035 (that is when the youngest will turn 25). BUT there is a huge lesson that I have just recently learned. It may seem like an obvious lesson to most but hey, some of us our slow learners! :)
My lesson: What works for my family may not work for yours. What works for your family may not work for mine AND I am totally fine with that. The last part is the most important, to truly be comfortable with your family and where you are in life.
Question: Why was this such a hard lesson for me to learn?
Answer: For years, I was caught up in the slippery slope of "Keeping up with the Jones". It is a horrible place to me. The constant comparison game between my family and other families is exhausting.
This lesson started to sink in the year I quit my job as a teacher to home school our oldest son. We went from a two income family to a single income family in about 48 hours. You can't really compare or keep up with the latest and greatest when you take a hit like that. Plus, a lot of people just did not support or understand our decision. You find out really quick who your true friends are when you make a move they may or may not support.
I remember how wrapped up I use to get in the details of other mothers. Rewind five years ago, our oldest son was perfectly happy at his pre-school. He had been there since he was about 18 months old. This school offered a great Pre-K program BUT we decided to move him to a very expensive private school. Why? Because it was "the best" according to many other moms. I can remember the looks of judgement when I would try to discuss the pros and cons with other moms. I actually sat in the parking lot of this prestigious school before the sun came up so I could be one of the first in line for our registration number. Then there was this ridiculous interview process and on and on. We were thrilled when he got accepted. Months later we realized it was a horrible decision. The school's "instant obedience" policy did not fit well with our son's ADHD and anxiety (which had not been diagnosed yet). He was constantly in trouble. He really would have been better off staying at the original school with the teachers and staff that he was use to.
Another example I remember was when a fellow mom told me I had signed my son up for the wrong sport for that particular season. I was so excited that he had reached the age to play soccer. We signed up for the spring season (because of his fall birthday). I remember the look on her face when she said, "You do realize tee-ball is in the spring and soccer is in the fall." I was crushed, I DID IT WRONG! Ugh...the worry that little comment brought me was such a waste of my time (I realize that now). Seriously, I know now soccer isn't in my son's future any way, and who cares, when the "appropriate" season is.
My list of examples could go on and on. Many times I went against my gut feeling as a parent because I allowed another mom to convince me of her views and opinions. Unfortunately, it has taken me 9 years to get the idea that I really do know what is best for my children. My mom has probably repeated that to me 1,000 times over the years, but like I said, some of us our slow learners. :)
I think as mothers we should support one another. Help each other up and feel good about ourselves. Who cares if we aren't following the exact same path. We should celebrate the differences in each others children. We should honor one another by appreciating the different parenting strategies.
We happen to have a very unusual situation in our family right now. My oldest is home schooled, my middle child attends public school, and my youngest attends mothers day out. Could my kids be any more different? It is just our little spin on differentiated instruction! :) My husband and I have taken a stand. We will support our children with the ways that will help them grow into the individuals God intended them to be; which may or may not match what their peers are doing. After all, He is our creator and part of his beautiful masterpiece is that each one of us is different with a different path.
If I could give any piece of advice to a new mother it would be this, "God specifically gave your child to you and you to your child. It was His amazing plan that the two of you be together. You know your child and what is best for that tiny human better than any one else. Ignore the judgemental comments and keep your eyes focused on those who support you and most important your Creator." It really is ridiculous how people become so opinionated about breast feeding, potty training, pre-school, sports, and the list goes on.
Here are a few verses from Chapter 31 in Proverbs. It serves as such a great reminder for moms of all ages.
"She is up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day." Proverbs 31:15
Only you know what is the best way to organize your family.
"She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day." Proverbs 31:18
Okay, so most days I am definitely ready to end my day but I think the main point here is to constantly remind yourself and fellow moms how valuable we are to our families. So many times we just feel tired and worn out, but we are loved and valued, even if our kiddos don't show it yet.
"...she always faces tomorrow with a smile." Proverbs 31:25
Even if you are not exactly bounding out of bed with a smile, have the confidence in yourself that your type of care is exactly what your family needs.
"Her children respect her and bless her." Proverbs 31:28
Just keep telling yourself, "They will turn 25, they will turn 25, they will turn 25!" :)
"Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!" Proverbs 31:29
God loves you and He is proud of you - ALWAYS.
I love and support all of my fellow moms. I think you are doing a fantastic job - even on your not so good days! :)
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14