Recently, a new reader contacted me with the following concern:
I have a 2.5 yr old son and an 8 mo old daughter. I would like a big family but wonder if I’d be able to handle it. I enjoyed reading a few of your blogs about having 5 and the comments people make to you and how you filter it and your views about large families. I know that no woman is given extra patience or whatever is needed to deal with larger families. But, sometimes I lose my temper so quickly with two that I wonder if I’d still be sane (questionable anyway!:) ) with several more! I am not a nice person when I’m sleep deprived. I pray for God to change my attitude and I’m trying to walk in that.
Taking the last sentence first, I have to say that I don’t think this reader needs very much help from me at all. Prayer is my first line of defense, too, and it works. Also, don’t forget to read your Bible. We can pray all day, but if we’re not interested in what God has already said in His word, we’re really just kneeling down to talk to ourselves.
I agree that no woman gets an extra measure of patience just because she becomes a mother. Maybe some women are specially suited to motherhood, but I doubt it. I’m pretty cranky when I’m sleep-deprived, too. In fact, I have to apologize for my tone more often than I care to think about. I have spent many nights on my knees in tears because of my own inability to be the kind of mother I should be. My kids are being raised by a fallen human being, who is far from perfect. So are yours. So are everybody’s!
Patience is both a skill and a fruit of the Spirit. If you stay firmly grounded in the Word, and daily practice acting patient, even when you don’t feel very patient, voilà! you will find yourself becoming a patient woman!
I had a conversation with a nurse at the pediatrician’s office a few weeks ago that made me laugh. I guess I must have made her laugh, too, with my five little ducklings trailing behind me all over the place, because she said to me (and she is by no means alone in saying this very thing)
“You must have the patience of Job!”
“Some days, yes. Other days not so much. They’re teaching me patience!”
There is no mother who hasn’t felt that hot rush of blood to the head upon discovery of some sticky substance poured out in her shoe. If there is, I’m not sure I want to know her. She’d have to be completely insane to be that detached, I’m sure.
However natural our anger may be, though, we know in our hearts that it is not righteous anger. That rage comes not from some holy place where a Law has been violated, but from our own Mommy-sized wills being thwarted. The sooner we learn to swallow that anger and realize that our little ones are not trying to displease us, but are simply exploring the world in their chaotic and hapless way, the better. We need to correct our children, of course, and that does involve showing displeasure (rather than, oh, taking pictures of the cutest little transgressor EVAR and posting them on Facebook or something), but the anger should be bitten back, even if it means we walk away from those situations with bloody tongues.
Dear young mother, instead of worrying about how you’re going to do things in the future, just mother the two you have in your home right now. As for the horde of could-be kids that you don’t even know you are going to have yet…well..I’ll be perfectly honest here. I have no idea how I could possibly handle six children, either. That’s ok, because I don’t have six children right now! There’s no need to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day are the evils thereof, right?
Given the ages of your children, I’d say you’re in the hardest part of motherhood right now. There will be other challenges as they get older, but the early years are often (maybe always) the loneliest, most frustrating time for “just mommies”–even those with fantastic support from family and friends. While your children are merely learning to walk and talk and feed themselves, you, Dear Reader, are learning to be a completely different person, and it’s a transformation that no one else can walk through with you. After living your entire life for the sake of your own needs and desires (for the most part), you are now required to put Self aside 24/7 to care for these very needy little people. It’s a trying time, and you absolutely cannot judge your future prospects by what you see in front of you today.
Practical help and encouragement. Here are a few resources for the new mom who is wondering how she’s going to survive this time of life without ruining her children:
Get Along Home Naturally, I think you should continue to read this blog. Not that I’m going to be much help (sorry), but I could use the company. I get lonely.
Loving the Little Years Click over and buy that book (not an affiliate link) as soon as you have the budget for it. Rachel Jankovic is a fantastic writer and has a sweet disposition, and I don’t think any new mom should be without her wisdom.
Buy me a copy, too. (Nevermind. A precious reader just did. That’ll teach me to drop hints, won’t it? 😉 ) I haven’t gotten to read it yet. I recommend this book on the strength of her blog posts.
4 Moms of 35 Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions (This is an affiliate link.) I’ve been following these four moms’ blogs for a very long time, and they are some of the smartest, most helpful ladies on the web. You can read a full review of this ebook here.
Find their individual blogs here, also, so you don’t miss their reader Q&A’s every week:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.–James 1:5
How about you, moms? What resources have you found helpful in the early years of motherhood?