For Mom’s of Little Ones, Written by a Dad*
We were 20 something years old, church planters in a massive Asian city and surviving 3 little boys with more energy than your typical cyclone. We had no clue what we were doing. We lived in a tiny, cinder-blocked, tile-floored flat. The boys all slept in one tiny room. Life was crazy in those days. While I was out learning the language and working with our team, my wife leaned heavy into three little boys. There was always a scrum on the floor.
Of course, there were no grandparents around. Baby sitters were hard to come by. For my wife, it was all day, all week, all year being mom. Exhausting work.
How does a mom survive? Let me share with you what I witnessed. If you are a mom of little ones, be encouraged – you can survive these years. The kids? Well, time will tell….
Surviving, More or Less
My wife is naturally very relational. She loves people. These little people who came from within her were the gleam in her eye. She adores her boys. Today they all tower over her as each is well over 6 foot tall. Back then, they were pudgy balls of atomic explosions. Hungry, dirty, happy, grumpy, constantly moving – all at the same time. You get the picture. We laugh now. We cried a lot then. We had no idea if we were good parents or not. We begged God for mercy.
A lesson: Pray your fool head off
There are certainly principles on parenting. You can read the books. Living cross-culturally with so many normal resources stripped away (extended family, church community, native speaking public schools, etc.), parenting can be exponentially more difficult. We had no idea what we were doing. So we prayed – usually as we were falling asleep exhausted in bed at night. We begged God to guide us and protect them from our cluelessness. He answered those prayers. We couldn’t tell then. Hindsight gives us the gift of seeing God’s activity in those days in ways we never detected.
Another lesson: Say you’re sorry and keep on saying it
This is one of the greatest gifts we gave our kids. We knew when we blew it. Well, usually. Sometimes we had to point it out to each other. When we settled down and were graced with our senses again, we would go back and apologize. This kept us humble and taught our kids how to say sorry. Our home was a good environment to be real and learn. We were matured by God through our kids, no doubt about that.
Bonus Lesson: Be real about mom’s spiritual life
I wax eloquent about meaningful spiritual life on this blog. With the smack of little feet on the tile at sunrise each day, “devotionals” were hard to come by. My wife tells how she found solitude by washing the dishes at night. I would be on the family room floor as boys climbed all over me and she would hide out in the kitchen doing a chore no one else wanted. But she was alone. She was not being pulled on. She usually had a verse written on a card stuck to the wall above the sink. The spiritual life of a mom can be thin. Moms, be gracious with yourself. You do not need anymore “shoulds” pounding away at you. Take the time when you get it. Seek to make the time if you can – get away for at least 1/2 a day one Saturday a month or something (hint: dads – take the kids on Saturdays!). Your Father in heaven is gentle with those who have little ones. So be gentle with yourselves. Besides, raising little souls is one of the “hidden” spiritual practices God graces some of us with. He is up to more in your formation, and the kid’s, than you may be aware.
Obviously this is written from a dad’s point of view. What do you moms have to say out there? Please share your frustrations and wisdom. Thank you.
*This blog was wife-approved prior to posting.