Emily sent us an e-mail the other day asking if I was holding my sweet baby in my arms yet. The answer to that question, Emily, is “no.” Baby is very decidedly still in my belly.
I’m pretty sure that the Lord designed the last 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy to make you actually want to go into labor. You spend the first 32 weeks trying not to think about it and seeking to trust the Lord, but when you hit the home stretch, you sing a different tune. It hurts to walk. It hurts to sit. And if you lie down, you can no longer breathe. Bring on labor!
But as every mom knows, the second that little one is placed in your arms, every bit of sickness and pain (well, maybe not all of it, but you catch my drift) becomes a distant memory. And Lord willing I’m only days away from that sweet moment. If little girl doesn’t make an appearance before February 3rd then I am scheduled to be induced on Monday the 4th. We will be sure to post a few updates on the blog when the time comes.
As you have so kindly done for me three times before, I would be grateful if you would keep me in your prayers.
Better than yesterday’s list. Found this one posted by her bed.
My most embarrassing moment as “mom” took place before I had children of my own.
I was babysitting my toddler nephew Andrew and I took him to the grocery store. He spied a bag of Cheetos and when I told him “no” he proceeded to throw a big fit. Right there, in the middle of Giant Food, he threw himself down onto the floor and began kicking and screaming.
I was mortified.
All these people probably think he’s my kid and that I’m a really bad mom!
Now Brian and Kristin are some of the best parents I know. They were already working hard to train Andrew to obey and today he is an exceptionally mature thirteen-year-old.
But this was a new experience for me. Not until I had children of my own did I learn that every child throws at least one temper tantrum in the grocery store. It’s right there in the how-to-be-a-kid manual.
Even so, it’s hard not to be embarrassed when our kids put on a sin show for a curious crowd.
So when the time came and it really was my kid screaming for Cheetos in Giant Food, my mom’s advice was invaluable: “You shouldn’t be embarrassed when your child disobeys in public” she said. “He’s a child and he’s a sinner. That’s what they do. You should only be concerned if you aren’t faithfully training him to obey in private.”
In other words, we aren’t parenting for the crowd. We’re parenting for an audience of One.
We don’t teach our children to obey so that they will make us look good. We teach our children to obey because God has been good to us, and because we want our children to experience the goodness that comes from walking in His ways (Eph. 6:1-4).
Mothering under the gaze of God spurs us on to be faithful in the everyday mundane mothering moments when nobody else sees. But it also transforms our most embarrassing mothering moment into a beautiful opportunity to laugh at ourselves.
Sure, your most recent trip to the grocery store may not have been your proudest moment as a mom. But if, by the grace of God, you are faithful in private “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt. 6:18) in public.
Her birthday is February 20th. I found the all-important list sticking to my dresser this morning.
“Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?” asked some one of a mother. “Because,” said she, “I find nineteen times is not enough.” Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Pretty much sums up our rainy afternoon.
Karissa wrote in with a great question:
In a recent post you talked about “picking one thing” and being consistent about it in the discipline of a toddler. I guess my question is: How? There are multiple little issues of obedience that are clear to my 19-month-old, but I also want to be consistent about tantrum throwing. So what do I do about those other issues? Do I overlook her disobedience or lead her away from the “no touch” object? What do I do about those other obedience issues? Thanks for your input!
Great question, Karissa, and I think you’ve got the right idea. We most effectively train our children when we focus on one or two areas at a time. But very young children disobey in a myriad of ways! So how can we focus on one thing without losing ground in other areas?
I’m sure many moms have more wisdom than me, but here are a few ideas I’ve found helpful:
If temper tantrums are your “one thing” then consider ways to minimize other sources of temptation. If your daughter always heads for her favorite “no touch” item in the living room, maybe remove it for a time. If your son cries when you drive by the local park, then try taking another route home. If your child is eyeing another child’s toy dump truck, distract him with some blocks. Eliminating predictable areas of temptation can help you focus most consistently on the most important things.
If our child sins in ways we can’t ignore, seek to deal with it appropriately and move on. So if our child grabs a toy we need to help him return it, telling him as we do that it is wrong to grab. Or if she won’t come right away we may need to go get her and remind her to always come to mommy right away. These are important areas to deal with and should be our “one thing” sooner rather than later, but in the meantime it may help deal quickly with these issues and move on.
This requires patience. For example, we may find our child’s whining irksome, but if we have already decided that tantrums are a more urgent issue, we may need to bite our lip, smile, and model cheerfulness for the time being.
In conclusion, it might help to think ahead about your day: Where can I distract my child from temptation? Where can I overlook or redirect? And where do I need to focus all of my discipline and training?
Finally, as we’ve said all along, don’t grow weary in doing good. Your consistency in one area will produce fruit in many areas in your child’s life.
How Nicole’s posts are born.
Over the last few months Hudson has crossed that threshold from baby to toddler. His speech has taken off, his comprehension level is higher. He’s not my baby anymore. But with big boy words and actions have come big boy attitudes. Mike and I needed to become more intentional about training him to obey.
But where to start? Mom’s advice has always been so helpful here: “Choose one area at a time and be consistent.” As we considered our little guy, we decided to address screaming. For one thing, Hudson’s screaming had become clearly defiant. He screamed when he was mad or frustrated with us, one of his sisters, or with himself. He screamed when we didn’t let him have what he wanted. This was clearly an area where he needed to come under our loving, biblical authority and to learn self-control.
Not only was Hudson’s screaming a clear expression of disobedience, it had ramifications for family life. It made it difficult to take him out to the store or to a restaurant, it didn’t bless Caly or MJ as they tried to play with him, it caused babysitters to run the other direction. His high-pitched, badly-timed screams were kind of hard to ignore.
So a couple of months ago I buckled down and began intensive, focused training on this area. This meant I had to overlook or other ways Hudson lacked self-control such as throwing toys or his near-constant whining. Whenever Hudson screamed I repeated the same simple phrase, “No scream. Say ‘Yes Mommy.” Then I brought appropriate consequences.
Consistency was the hardest part. Sometimes it meant turning off the stove and dragging my pregnant self upstairs to address a screaming incident. But the consistent training is beginning to bear fruit in Hudson’s life.
Sure, he still screams, but not nearly as much as he used to. And even though we focused on this one area, it has spilled over into other areas as well. Most notably, Hudson is happier now. And his newly formed habits of obedience and self-control mean we can go to out to dinner and make memories as a family.
We’re just at the starting line of many years of training Hudson, but one area at a time, by the grace of God, we can make progress in teaching him to obey.