Friday, October 28, 2011

Sideline Mothering

      I am a mom.  I am a homemaker.  I do "mom" things.  While it does not ultimately define who I am, it does dictate a lot of my life right now.  This also means that I hang around with other moms a lot.  Which I am so thankful for, because talking with other mothers and hearing about their mom worlds can help normalize my own.
      However, there are some drawbacks.  Comparison is something that so easily creeps into life, and the mom world is very fertile ground for this.  And, while I struggle with comparison to some degree (why is your child so much more pleasant to adults than mine?), I have realized that more than that, I struggle with thinking that I know best - that I even know better than that mom might, maybe even about her own child.  How horrible is that?  I know the root of this is pride, and that is a sin.  I found myself sideline mothering before I even had kids - thinking, "If only she would do this, then that child would not behave that way" or "Doesn't she realize what is happening?"  I could be and can be extremely judgemental in my mind before I have even made a conscious decision to go down that road.  I also thought that when I was a mom, I would get it right.  Sure, I would make mistakes here and there, but ultimately, I would know what to do.
      Then, I became a mom to these two precious girls.


And the curveballs began.  Why is breastfeeding so much harder than it seems it should be?  Why does my child crawl like a pirate?  Why does it feel like I am wrestling a pig to dress my one year old?  Why does she react so intensely to someone else eating something when she has a plate full of food?  Why is it so hard to get into the car?  Why does she have to ask "why"?  Will my child ever, I mean, ever be potty-trained?
      And the guessing game began.  Oh how motherhood is so much more guesswork than I would have imagined.  If something doesn't work, try something else.  Ask your husband, ask the doctor, ask your mother-in-law, ask God and keep throwing things at the problem until something sticks.  And then in a week, it will change.  This is motherhood.
      For all of that, I still often think I know or should know the answers.  I have a degree in Family stuff!  I come from a great family!  I am smart!  I should know what to do.  I still often look into the families around me and think I know what they should do, which is wrong and prideful.  They know their children best and are seeking the Lord for wisdom and trying their hardest.  Sideline mothering is a dangerous and prideful road to walk.
      What I am realizing even now, is that I am afraid people are sideline mothering me.  I am afraid of being really real with where we are in potty training (which is nowhere), because I do not want some other mom thinking she knows best what I should do.  That is the sick way that I think sometimes, and I don't want it to make me miss out on the wisdom of those around me.  I want to be authentic about the real struggles that we face.  I know that potty training is not a true hardship in life, and I know that someday, my children will be potty trained.  They will be big girls, and this will all be behind us.  (For good and for bad.)  Somehow.
      But, walking the road from point A to point B seems like a challenge right now.  And, I am realizing that for Lily, it is largely a control issue.  (I think.  I am guessing again.)  The Lord will give us wisdom, and we will do the hard work, and someday Lily will not wear diapers.  It will be in the right time for our family.  I will stop reading the research that children in our country are potty-trained later than most of the world and wondering where I went wrong.  It will happen when it should, and I am praying that I will know at what point I may have to really force the issue.  Because it may come to that.
      And, I will thank the Lord for what he is teaching me through Lily and Bella, because it is more than I would have thought.


It was easier to sideline mother before I had kids - now in many ways I have more compassion, and in other ways, I still find myself thinking I know best.  But I don't, and I am thankful for the humbling roads that I get to walk that teach me that.  I really am, because I know that I will be a better mother, wife, and friend because of it.  Thanks be to God.


The Lowery Family said...

Love this post! My favorite thing I ever heard when I was potty training Will was that our peditrician asked me how many friends I had who went to college in a diaper :) It will happen - eventually, Two of mine were 3 when they were potty trained, and we won't even talk about how long one of them wore night time pull-ups ;)

Elizabeth said...

When I think of all the things I knew about motherhood before I was a mother, I cringe. Experience teaches us a lot! But there will always be new things to learn, about ourselves and our children. Being teachable (and humble) is the most important thing!

Under Her Wings said...

I'm so glad I saw your post linked to Facebook, Carol. It's a way to hear what's going on with you, even though we live across the river. The girls are beautiful, just like their mom. Charity is due #5 any day now--a boy! Keep on guessing--but mostly praying! Parenting is no easy game. Love you!

wallacefamilyblog said...

Great post and I couldnt agree more with you! It is amazing how experience teaches us a lot about mothering.

Morgan Smith said...

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!!!!! I wanted to circle so many of your sentences and put a star next to them:) you nailed it for me. I fear that sideline mom. I know I dont do things perfectly. And I can get all worried that everyone is analyzing my flaws and weaknesses as a mom. But that's so silly. Your post helped me remember. I worry not ab the potty thing, but about Annette screaming NO at me in public. And when I give in to her tantrums way too often. And I could go on and on and on. Thats a ling way to say that I really like your post and that I can totally totally relate;)

Mom Spenst said...

Carol, I love your transparency; you often say what others of us are thinking. I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that the situations in life that humble us-oh yes they continue all through life not just while you have little kids-are for us to have a better. understanding of how much we need God and His wisdom on a daily/hourly basis. The older I get the more I realize what I don't know and the more I need God to just do daily life.

Mom Spenst said...

Carol, help! I'm not trying to repeat my comment. What I was actually trying to do was get Becka's name off of the comment that I made. Oh well, I posted my comment before putting my name in and it automatically attached it to Becka's name. Boy did I goof that one up!:O)