Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lessons in Parenting

I'm beginning to think that parenting can be all about fear...if you let it.

First, you're afraid you won't get pregnant. And then you do, and you're afraid of miscarriage. Then you're afraid of birth defects. By the third trimester, you're afraid of cord accidents and problems with labor and delivery. Then, before you  know it, your little one is here, and you're afraid of everything and you just want to put them back inside where they can stay safe! And you're afraid you might lose your mind with sleep deprivation ;)

I am a fearful person in general. I always have been. I'm just a big fat chicken. I determined at the beginning of my pregnancy that I didn't want to be a fearful parent. And God brought me through my pregnancy, mostly without fear. There was some there, but nothing compared to what ought to have been there given my natural tendencies.

We took Matthew to church this weekend. He was 5 weeks and 1 day old. Our pediatrician wanted us to wait until 8 weeks, after his shots. If it were up to me, I would wait until he was 16 before he could go out, and only then if everyone around him wore Haz-Mat suits. We needed to do an errand recently--I literally raced through the store as fast as I could. The baby was sound asleep, so it wasn't to keep him from fussing--it was to minimize his exposure to "other people." I realized I was becoming ridiculous, and governed by fear.  So, I decided that the things that he'd get his shots at 8 weeks for aren't things he'd catch at church or Target anyway, and we made the conscious decision to go to church on Sunday. I even let other folks hold him, which was also an exercise for me, because I wanted all of them to be screened by the CDC first (don't get me wrong, I love and trust my church family...but, those GERMS!).  But I don't want to be THAT mom! I want Matthew to grow up unafraid, and with parents who are unafraid. I want him to know that rich freedom and security that comes with life in Christ. I don't want him to struggle the way I do. So I made a choice to lay down my fear, to trust the Lord with his health, and we went out. And it was wonderful.

Today I think the Lord maybe is calling my bluff. Matthew has been out of sorts all day. It might be a growth spurt (I hope so) but his voice also sounds a little funny--hoarse, almost. My immediate response was to regret our decision on Sunday. I second guessed and mentally kicked myself. And then I realized that I was falling into the same trap, just after-the-fact, instead of before. I obviously have a lot to learn. And Matthew is sleeping peacefully now, so whatever it is/was can't be bothering himself too much.

Going to church was so wonderful because we got to show this little miracle to our dear church family who prayed us to this point over the last many years. He was held and loved on by so many people who have prayed for and loved him for years. We also got to hear a wonderful message on abiding in the Lord. I really needed to hear it. I mean, really. And the kicker is that it was given by a 23 or 24 year old guy-- I have so much to learn from him!

My mother in law asked me this week what our prayer requests are. I was ashamed to say that in recent weeks, my prayers have focused almost exclusively on, God, please make him sleep. God, please let him stay asleep. God, please let me sleep. Some prayer life, huh?

Life with a newborn has become about survival. And I don't want that, either. I feed him, cuddle him, put him down, and then race to clean the house or make the meals or do the laundry before he wakes up. Then when he's feeding, I try to balance the laptop on my lap and get caught up on computer related things. And I realized that I wasn't abiding in time with my son, either.  And with DH? Well, we're lucky right now if we're awake and in the same location at the same time these days. Guess I've got the same story in all my major relationships right now. I want change. I want the energy to exact that change.

So, I've begun just enjoying the time with my son. I gaze on him while he's eating. I cuddle him just because. I realize that all too soon, he's not going to want to spend all day in my arms. And even if I ever have another child, I won't have this same opportunity because big brother Matthew will be running around, wanting my attention, too. So, I've been taking it slow. The house is suffering, but thankfully those people who've been over enough to observe that have been gracious. I just look at my son and my breath catches in my chest. Have you ever just wanted to stop time? I feel like it's racing by, and I desperately want it to slow down--to stay this way forever, even. I love that when he's upset, I am of comfort to him. It's pretty incredible to be someone's safe place. My heart overflows.

DH and I steal moments together where we can. Thankfully, he is patient too, and we both know that this is just a season. We are so grateful we had 10 years of just us. It definitely makes this time easier.

But most importantly, I'm trying to envision myself like my son, in the arms of MY Father.  How wonderful it would be to spend all day in HIS arms. To lie peacefully without a care in the world. To let Him be my safe place.  It intrigues me that that has to be a discipline for me, rather than an M.O. Thank God that He is patient with me. So I'm trying to abide more, scurry less. More Mary, less Martha. I want to be the kind of woman whose relationship with the Lord is an example to her son, such that he grows up with a heart for the Word and for prayer like the young guy who gave the message on Sunday.

We were going to visit a dear friend this morning who had cancer. When DH and Matthew both woke up not feeling well, we rescheduled for later in the week. That friend passed away this afternoon. We are so sorry to lose her. We are grateful that we got to introduce her to Matthew a little over a week ago. She was one of his big prayer warrior champions. She knew how to abide in the Lord. She was a Mary, though she recognized that her natural leaning was to be a Martha. I learned much from her and I will miss her dearly.

I must go--baby will be up soon to eat and then we all need to go to bed. In the mean time, I'd appreciate your prayers that Matthew really is not getting sick, that DH doesn't get any sicker, and for Kay's dear family and loved ones as they grieve her loss.


  1. Hey there!

    Yay for being willing to trust God enough to take him out.

    As for the hoarseness, it could just be acid reflux. Does he swallow a lot (even when not eating?)

    Our little E had the same thing, it was just reflux causing her to be hoarse, thankfully. With Prevacid (from her ped) it went away! Just a thought.

    Praying he is not actually sick!

  2. A couple of weeks ago in church they challenged us to ask God to meet our greatest need and gave us a moment to pray. All I could think of was... "God I'm so tired. I need sleep. Please, please give me the opportunity to get some sleep!" So, I hear ya!

    Hang in there!

  3. Your prayer life sounds like mine when I have a new baby. Lord, PLEASE let us sleep! Please please please please PLEASE!

    It will get better. :)

  4. Gosh Jen... that picture just brought tears to my eyes. You can only see the side of her face, but the love just radiated from her to your little one. Cherish that forever.

  5. Sorry for the loss of your friend Kay...I agree with Michelle...her last days were brightened by her meeting with Matthew. What a lovely photo. As for taking your baby out...I have never been one to shelter my kids...pretty much from the time we left the hospital...we just lived life. I asked that people wash their hands and that if they were sick to stay away...but we were out and about all the time. Our son was born in spring so not such a big deal. He did fine and we took him everwhere from about 5 days old. Our daughter was born in November this past year....and she has a 2 1/2 year old brother in preschool...you can only imagine the germs he brings home...AND...I pretty much had her out shopping for Christmas from day 5 as well...and..she is now 3 months old and has only had one tiny little cold that robbed us of a little sleep for a few days but otherwise we survived fine. My pediatritian says you either expose them early and they build up their imune system by weathering some viruses or you shelter them and they miss the first few months of pre-school or kindergarten doing the same thing. So...we are pretty laid back about it and all seems to be well. I think you will alleviate a lot of stress if you just take normal precautions but go about your life as normal. You will all survive.

  6. You sound like one wise lady! You don't want to mirror for your son a life governed by fear. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. As far as germs go, new research supports the idea that exposure in childhood to some dirt and germs is actually good for children. They tend to be healthier and with fewer allergies. All four of my kids are healthy as horses with no allergies. I tell them they should thank me for my lax housekeeping standards and for bringing them out in public from a very early age.

    Dawn Davenport
    Host of radio show “Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility”