Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Out of control...an addendum

With all of last week’s talk about feeling out of control, I felt compelled to give a short addendum. I didn’t want to leave you with the idea that once kids get out of the preschool years, things magically get easier (remember, I still have two preschoolers at home!). They don’t.

(At least not magically, although one might think that, when one's baby first starts sleeping through the night, one's toddler is potty trained, or one's preschooler can entertain himself for longer than a nanosecond! That part does get easier!).

Mostly, though, they just change.

Remarkably, through the years, the same few recurring "control themes" (at least in my life) repeat each other with incredible regularity:

Time:

Then: How am I going to time this grocery trip between the baby’s feeding, the toddler’s morning nap and lunch time?
Now: How am I going to get from softball to baseball to choir to church all in 45 minutes, and keep the three-year-old from falling asleep in the car so she will still sleep tonight?

Food:

Then: How am I ever going to teach them to sit quietly at the table for family meals?
Now: Now that they can fix their own snacks, how am I going to get them to remember to clean up their mess?

Laundry:

Then: I’m washing three outfits a day per child because they spit up, mark on, spill on, or have a diaper blowout every single day!
Now: I’m washing three outfits a day per child because they wear one to school, one to sports, one to church, and one to hang out in (oops, that’s four!). Let’s not even go into the chronic abuse of towel allotments around here!

Character issues:

Then: When will he or she ever learn to obey, not interrupt, have nice manners, and be kind to siblings?
Now: When will he or she ever learn to obey, not interrupt, have nice manners, and be kind to siblings?

(Yes, some character issues are ONGOING. We’ve just gone from teaching them to come when they are called, and not to hit, bite or scratch; to teaching them to do the right thing even when no one is looking, not to use words as a weapon, and to think of the other person first. Dealing with attitudes (theirs or mine) seems to be the overarching theme of my life.)

Freedoms:

Then: How do I train my toddler not to touch the hot stove?
Now: How do I prepare my 13-year-old to say “no” to a boy’s advances?

Knowing God:

Then: I want them to accept Jesus as their Savior.
Now: I want them to know and love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

See? It’s all the same. Just a different time and (sometimes) a different venue .

Yes, I still feel out of control. A lot. As the kids get older, they are away from me more, and I have less and less direct control. It can be downright scary! The questions get more complicated, the stakes get higher, and I feel the weight of it.

But I’m learning (don't get the idea that I've arrived, by any stretch!), from diapers to drivers’ licenses, it’s all by faith. Not faith in myself, because I’ve proven over and over that I will fail. Not faith in a “method” of parenting, even when it is biblically based, and can be very helpful. I've learned a lot by reading books and applying techniques, but that is simply not enough.

My faith has to be firmly placed in God, who gave these kids to me in the first place. His Word is true, and His way leads to righteousness and peace, so I want to stay as close to Him as I possibly can. He promises strength to the weary, and wisdom to those who ask.

Even though my kids are technically sleeping through the night (there are still plenty of tap-tap-taps on my shoulders around 2:00 a.m.!), my life is very full. I don't consider myself a high energy person - I get bone-weary often. There is no way I can prioritize all the competing needs of my family members. So I’m constantly and persistently asking for wisdom!

But He is faithful - even as I bemoan my own limitations - to take my feeble efforts and turn them into something beautiful.

I can rest in Him alone.

O our God...we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.

2 Chronicles 20:12

Here's another post along this same theme from a while back, in case you missed it.

20 comments:

Tammy M. said...

Mighty is our King.

Lauren S. said...

What a great post. It is so easy to think that your current challenges are the most difficult and that life will get easier! Instead we have to face today's challenges, know there will be more tomorrow, and be thankful for all the blessings we have. Thanks for the great perspective!

marian said...

Another great post, full of perspective and encouragement in faith. The character issues "then" and "now" made me laugh. Sooo true! That was one of the things I found surprising several years ago as a newer parent. Somehow I was under the illusion that I would instruct my kids well in something one,two, maybe three times, and that would be it. You know, check'em off one by one? Now that's a laugh!

Chappyswife said...

Gee, thanks. :0(

:0)

Susanne said...

Ya the driver's liscence thing is definitely a faith adventure. I've got two with learner's liscences right now.

Then and now was hilarious but oh, so true. And in each step of the way we must trust God. Great post, Katherine.

Joy said...

Thank you. Both great posts and so encouraging. I've been feeling that out of control feeling this week with my 18 month old starting temper tantrums. It was enough to deal with her two brothers' discipline issues, but now we're in full swing with her too. She's sure cute though! Thanks for helping my perspective.

Anonymous said...

Katherine,

I will return to this post time and again!!!

THANK YOU FOR THE TIME YOU TAKE TO WRITE.

This post got me thinking all about perseverance. And endurance. And, as my hubby often reminds me, he and I are in our 30's, and there's stuff we've been working on in ourselves for years. Decades in fact. And it's the same with our kids. Except the decades part. :-)

Thansk Katherine for sharing your wisdom.

Chris from Canada

MicheleinNZ said...

Okay, I realise that life isn't going to be miraculously easier once the oldest hits 7 or so, but for the sake of my own sanity, I'm going to pretend that this is the hardest time in my parenting and look forward to a bit of an easier time in the future :) Because when they're all sleeping through the night, that's got to be better than waking every three hours!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Marian, you and I were under the EXACT SAME illusion! When you get a minute, could you email me at raisingfive(at)gmail.com? Thanks!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Okay, Michele, you got me on that one. You are right - it does get better in that regard. When they start sleeping through the night, it IS a bit like magic...or maybe, HEAVEN. =) I'll edit to add your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I've recently came across your blog and I have been enjoying reading about your day. Great thoughts today! As a mom of three teenagers, I agree, it doesn't get easier, it just changes. Thanks for sharing!

Donna

Andrea said...

Katherine--I can relate with a preteen and toddlers underfoot. The myriad of emotions and worries. I've got a little hindsight with my age gap...but not much. I'm relying on Him. You are such an encouragement to me.

Laurel Wreath said...

Oh my goodness can I say AMEN loud enough????

Deidre said...

I've stopped saying, "I can't wait until you are ____ years old". I know with every new age, there are new challenges, but new blessings. Thanks for sharing that ultimately whatever the stage, God is the one in control and the ultimate teacher.

JennaG said...

I always tell my friends that parenting always has its challenges--they just come in different packages as your children get older.

Dutchnic said...

Another great post. And thank you for dropping by my blog as well!

Rachel said...

I am a lurker but love everything you write. You preach to me - me and my control/perfectionist issues. Thank you for encouraging me in this so very difficult but rewarding job. My oldest is 7 and I am just now beginning to realize how many things I have to learn. Hopefully the Lord will get through to me before all 3 of mine are out of the nest.

Blessings to you!

Beck said...

Wonderful post, as always.
I read this earlier and then thought about it later on when The Girl and I were doing our endless negotiations about privledges and behaviour - it cheered me up.

Elise said...

As I began reading, the Jars of Clay song kept running through my head...especially this line... "Into something beautiful.."
Then I reached the end of your post! :)
How comforting, Katherine, to hear that you are still figuring it out, learning, being humbled. And what a strong statement, delivering the control to God through our faith.
Thank you!

Jennifer said...

I wouldn't think that "It never ends" could be encouraging, but somehow it is (with a bit of a challenge thrown in for good measure). This motherhood thing is very hard to do at all--not to mention to do well.