When I first heard about the Practices of Parenting Carnival, I thought, "Hmm, great idea. But I won't be contibuting." It was one of those mothering days when survival is the goal, and having anything extra to offer, much less advice about parenting (as in I know what I'm doing, so let me tell you), just isn't in the realm of possibility.
But today is a new day. While I still don't know what I'm doing, there are a few precious pillars of motherhood that I have come to cling to that I wish someone had told me earlier on in my journey. So in an effort to maybe save someone out there some of the tears I shed and the hair I pulled out (figuratively), here are four of my own practices of mothering that have helped me to survive and enjoy motherhood.
Build Your Tribe
We're not meant to mother alone. Period. I think sometimes in our effort to be all the women, independent, throwin' our hands up and whatnot, we decieve ourselves into thinking that we can figure this mothering thing out on our own. Asking for help is to admit we're one of those women that got gyped when it came to the natural wiring of womanhood that just instinctively knows how to handle babies. But anyone that has gone down this road of independence knows how miserable it is.
Source: thelittlebullfighter.com via Danielle on Pinterest
So we must build a tribe. If you're like me, you have this picture of your ideal support network, bosom friends all hungry to eat the meat of life together, all within walking distance, all with the same parenting styles. Right? And if, like me, you don't have that, you get all woe is me. Building your tribe may mean redefining your tribe.
My life is very transitory, full of hellos and goodbyes, too many goodbyes. Sniff. And my hardest motherhood seasons coincide with my lonely seasons. I've learned that instead of pining away for my ideal tribe, I've got to redefine it. Open myself up to what is available, no matter how less than ideal it is. And I've got to remember that community is worth the effort. Worth the two hour bus and taxi trip across the city to meet with other moms. Worth cleaning the house and fixing the meal to have the new friends over. Worth being totally vulnerable and inviting myself into a group.
My ideal tribe also doesn't involve cyber friends. I prefer the real life ones I can hug. But the blogger community that I have immersed myself in has been food for my soul. Amazing women like Sarah Bessey, Laura Parker, Jamie Wright, and Ann Voskamp wouldn't know me if they saw me on the street, but daily they open their lives and let me in. I laugh and cry with them through their days and am inspired to grow and encouraged to know...I am not alone.
Find Your Style
Maybe you're early on in your journey and you've started parenting a certain way, not even realizing it's a style. It's just what everyone around you is doing and so that must be how to parent. But it feels like you're stuffing your foot into a shoe that doesn't fit. There is no magical glass slipper where you and your babies are happy ever always, but maybe you need to find a new shoe. There are other ways to parent, styles that may fit your personality and the weave of your soul in a much better way. So throw off that darn shoe and try something else. When I did that, my husband, my baby and I all took a collective sigh of relief.
Rest Your Soul
When the first baby arrived, the luxury of a "day off" each week became about as realistic as a full night's sleep. We eventually worked our way into shifts on the weekends that provided each of us with something of a break. When another kid popped out and there were now two humans demanding our constant care, we sort of gave up trying to have time off in an effort to keep everyone fed, clothed and not screaming while attempting to meet all our other obligations. But as parents, as a couple, and as individuals my husband and I began to wither.
But then we had some very wise people speak into our lives, and remind us that God created our bodies and our souls with an innate need for rythmns of rest. To thrive as a family, we had to find this rythmn. We chose a day to disengage from our to-do list, to pull out leftovers and paper plates, to put in an extra Veggie Tales, to take a nap, to find that which is life-giving for us as individuals and as a family. We know we have freedom from the law, but sometimes in throwing out the practices of the law, we throw out the heart of the law. Sabbaath rest was meant for your heart and mine. It just got so shackled and distorted with legalism that we threw the whole idea out. For me that phrase "life-giving" was invigorating. It wasn't about making a list of all the things we wouldn't do in order to Sabbath rest. It was about finding what gives us life. Weekly rest has breathed vitality into our weary bones. No matter how hard it seems to make weekly rest happen, it's harder to live without it. Mamas, we all know how desperately our souls are longing for rest. We've got to stop saying it isn't possible and make it happen.