This month I am participating in "The Gentleness Challenge" with some other Mamas online and IRL. Here's the link with the info.
If you find yourself struggling to be a gentle Mommy that doesn't yell, speak out in frustration or anger, or use negative tones when you speak, l then I encourage you to join in on this journey.
Also if you are a seasoned mom and are past the stage of kids at home, I'd love for you to join our group and offer your wisdom and grace. Us younger moms have much to learn and gleam from Moms who have already raised their children.
I need this so much. I've slowly made my way into "the frustrated angry mama" that I had never wanted to be. And the beginning of the year is a wonderful time to find my way back to being the gentle mama I long to be.
There is power in numbers and God wants us to come along side each other to encourage and build each other up., as well as keep each other accountable for where we are at.
Because of this a friend and I have started a facebook group as a place to encourage each other, share together along the way, pray for each other and keep each other accountable. If you'd like to join us you don't have to be friends or people we know, we're all in this together as mamas, all around the world. My facebook page is to the right of my blog, the link all the way to the bottom or if you want just invite me as a FB "friend" and I'll accept and add you to the group. ;O) My facebook name is Becky Dunlap and my location is Wilmore, KY.
I'm looking forward to growing in my faith and in the gift and calling God has given me, to be a Godly Mother. I'm excited for God to restore my gentle mama heart, and am praying for all my mama "friends" too.
As I reflect and pray about my heart and actions with and towards my children, I am surprised by how much frustration and impatience I have with my kids sometimes.
I'd like to share how my journey as a mom began, and where I am at now.
My heart's desire and my only dream growing up was to be a Mommy.. I dreamed about it, I looked at baby stuff in the store, I spotted a baby in a second when we entered a restaurant, I had this crazy love for babies and kids.
When my husband and I got married we were so excited to have kids. (We wanted 5 to be exact, LOL) We spent a lot of time babysitting together when we were dating. We loved kids and we considered our time with kids as "dates" together. LOL... During those times we spent a lot of time talking about how we wanted to parent, and how we didn't want to parent. We had these great ideas and when we actually began having kids we realized that we really had no clue. One thing we did know was that we wanted to take joy in our kids, and engage with them fully. We also knew that we did NOT want to yell or discipline out of anger. It was all to common in my background and I desperately wanted to not have that in our family.
We had our first son just 1 yr. after our marriage. I had complications during my pregnancy, one being severe sickness that landed me in the hospital and home with IV's at times... Throwing up became the biggest part of my days. Then my little man came 7 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia, (super high blood pressure with kidney problems, etc). Nothing started out like my dreamy plans. He didn't nurse well, he spent 3 weeks in the hospital, I had a C-Section, I got an infection, etc etc.
That was the beginning of what began a long 8 years of having babies. 6 babies in 8 years and most of that time I spent extremely sick and in between pregnancies I struggled more and more with post-partem depression.
My first memory of yelling at my boys starts VERY early. My husband and I both agreed that we were ok with spanking at times when the children were outright defiant and that we would discipline with time out etc. when needed otherwise. We had agreed that we did not want to discipline out of anger, and that we would have control and talk gently and lovingly.
When my 2nd son was born our first was only 13 months old. Caleb (our 2nd) was a fussy baby. During the first 6 months of Caleb's life I began struggling with some significant post-partem depression. Things felt overwhelming.
As Caleb got older and the boys were around 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 I remember a specific time at the table when I became so frustrated I yelled at Caleb. I felt horrible.
Over the years I had times of great mommying, times where I've been gentle and right on with Jesus' heart for me as a mama, and then other times I have been impatient and frustrated and operated out of my flesh, and defiantly not the fruit of the spirit.
Depression became more substantial and was progressing to dangerous and scary places. Both my husband and I did not know what to do or what I needed or even what was happening. Dr's put me on anti-depressants and they helped less and less over time. My heart hurts as I think about all this, especially for the kids and my husband. As time went on I became more detached with my kids (something that was very important for me) and being fully engaged with each of them became harder and harder. It got to the place where my husband was full time working outside the home and also full time working (alone) at home. He was daddy and mommy, cook and cleaner.
Meanwhile my kids would come home from school and the first thing they would ask is "Is mommy awake or not?" and at dinner they would ask "Is mommy eating with us today". It broke my heart over and over and it still does to even begin to think about it, and yet I couldn't handle anything more. I hated where I was at and desperately wanted to be able to be the person God had made and given me a heart to be, a mother, a wife, and a friend to family and friends.
All this mommy stuff and parenting had NOT worked out the way I had expected and so deeply desired. (more on that in another entry) Finally 2 years ago when things were dangerously bad God brought me to a Godly Psychiatrist that had a heart for his job, and considered it his calling to help people. That day I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar (rapid-cycling) which in simple terms means that sometimes I am deeply excited, and sometimes I am deeply depressed, and sometimes I felt somewhere in the middle. I also may be doing poorly and on the outside someone would never know. Sometimes I know if I'm not doing well and other times I have no clue how/or where I am at in the spectrum. The rapid-cycling throws a twist in there in that it means on any given day or week my brain may switch back and forth to each extreme rapidly.
My husband and I walked out of that Dr.'s office that day with a speck of hope that we hadn't felt in several years. Hope that I actually have something that may get better, that there is something that may help. And so began a hard journey to healing With proper types of medicines, it was like a light came on again. I have had many rough bouts and probably will in the future, but I have been given my life back and there is no other way than by the grace and unfathomable love of my Father, Jesus.
I'm learning again what a joy and gift it is to be a mother, to be a wife. God is restoring our family and I have faith that over time God will restore all the years that the locust have eaten. (Joel 2:25)
I grieve over all that I lost as a mother; I grieve over what my children have lost. This is a fresh journey that I just yesterday was praying and grieving through. There is so much God has used and I believe He will use our struggles for His glory. He promises to. (Romans 8:28)
But as I "wake up" as a mother and woman and wife I struggle. Tears as I right this. I would like to say that as things get better I am a gentle compassionate, engaged mother and that I will not be harsh or impatient or hurtful to my kids anymore; the truth though is that I still struggle. I get angry, I nag, I exasperate my children, I speak before I think, and I wish afterwards that I had thought first. My patience has been wearing thin, I hurry my kids, I spend a lot of time telling them what they should be doing, rather than a lot of time praising and approving them.
The wonderful thing though is that I am more than not a loving gentle engaged and joyful parent that enjoy my children and am embracing my calling and gift as their mother. Because of God's grace. I am making progress, I am learning, God is redeeming, God is gracious. He is my parent, and He is the Great teacher and He is faithful to answer our prayers when we ask.
I am having more and more times of gentleness, times of teaching and instilling the love of Jesus in my children's hearts. I am amazed at home deeply connected and loved my children are with me and how deeply God and my Husband have covered them throughout the years. My oldest Isaiah who is 12 has been much more aware and I think probably most affected is sharing his heart with me. We are honest and I can see Him growing and becoming more like the Lord, and in that I am blessed.
So God is so very God. I continue to thank Him. Learning to thank Him more and more for all the good, and more and more thanking Him in the hard too. I am looking forward to God's pruning, His shaping, His sharpening, His healing and His transformation to be more like Him.
This is where my parenting journey started and where it has brought out the ugly, and also the beauty of His grace and enduring love. Thank you Jesus. Praise God His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is forever.
He is love and He is the one who makes us gentle and beautiful Mothers. His gift on the cross covered our flesh as a mother, and His Spirit pours out His fruit.
My prayers for myself are also my prayers for all Mothers, that we would Glorifies God and pleases Him as we love and train our children, with GENTLENESS.