I have six children. That means there are at least six things I said I would never do as a mom. Each time I would start a sentence with “I would never….”, then boom! I would be pregnant again with a child that was sure to do whatever I had just taken an oath against.
Before I had children, I had many years worth of promises that I would never do what I saw others do with their children. As Raymond Duncan said, “The best substitute for experience is being sixteen.” I was nineteen when I had my first child, so I was three whole years smarter than that even!
It would take too long to name all the things I said I would never do at that time. God in His infinite mercy spared me on the first time around. He knew that my first child had enough strikes against her with such a young and prideful mom. He spared me from too much humbling, on her account. Of course, I believed things went well because I was so awesome.
There’s nothing like a second child to correct such an assumption. After having an idyllic life with one child who slept through the night at two months old and a tiny apartment that had nothing in it to clean, the other shoe (or baby in this case) dropped and it was on. This little cheeky girl would not sleep til one in the morning, no matter what genius things I did to her schedule. She still can’t sleep until one in the morning. It was a losing battle. She got into things, she made messes and she pitched fits. She was a different child and God was grinning down on us knowing this was only the beginning.
Without going into each child individually I will just tell you, if I spoke against it, they started doing it. Thumbsucker…check. Blankey toter….yep. Poop protester….oh yeah. I shopped around for specific pacifiers, I climbed on the floor in the night looking for said pacifier. I started calling pacifiers passies. I stopped washing them when they fell on the ground in a place I judged to be reasonably non-toxic.
I let them wear whatever they wanted, even when others might see them. I lost the battle against the word “fart”. I slowly found myself sleeping with a child in our bed during a difficult year of our lives. I nursed one of my children for two years and I wore a sling. I even started telling them “because I said so.” I’m not saying those things are bad things to do necessarily, just that I was haughty enough to claim I would never do them.
I’m not sure that the verse that says to judge not lest you be judged is about this kind of dynamic or not. I am constantly spreading the word of Grace, not judgment. I had very little grace towards other parents until I dealt with these things myself. Wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t take so much for us to shake our heads and say we don’t know what we would do in any given situation?
Women are especially guilty of judging each others parenting skills. So many things contribute to what we do and what we believe about parenting. Moms can be so afraid of condemnation that they don’t ask for help when they need it. We need to keep an open mind and an open heart towards other moms and support each other rather than tear each other down.
One of the hardest verses in all of the Bible: Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
This is the high standard to strive for. The verse about pride going before destruction also comes to mind, but let’s pray for God’s grace to spare our children from that one while we are raising His child.