Monday, July 09, 2007

Setting my course - the desire

Before I had kids, I was just plain arrogant. I assumed being a mom was an easy job. I never saw my mom sweating over raising us, and after all, how hard could it be? Change some diapers, give a bottle, tickle some bellies (babies are so cute, after all!). Take them out and show them off. As an ICU nurse, I was used to saving people’s lives. This would be a piece of cake. What was the big deal?

And besides, I’d read every parenting book known to man. I was going into this thing prepared.

Of course, when I was knocked senseless with our first child, who refused to cooperate according to any plan of mine (was she just being difficult on purpose, or what?), I was forced to re-evaluate my old stereotypes. By the time she was three months old, colicky, and had never taken a nap longer than twenty minutes, I was exhausted, frustrated, and ready to lose my mind.

Suddenly, all the information in the books I'd read all jumbled together. Demand feed? Schedule feed? Cloth or disposable diapers? Back or tummy? I was confused and literally paralyzed with indecision. No book could have prepared me for this.

I needed a person to help me.

About that time I had a friend named Shannon whose children were a few years older than my daughter. Her house was always kind of messy (full of kids’ crafts and toys – what was she doing - playing? - all day?) but her kids were interesting and nicely behaved. She didn't know it, but I was watching her. She seemed to have a plan for going about this mothering thing, and I wanted to know her secret.

I figured she wouldn’t have any idea what I was going through (her oldest was so big, like SIX), but I called her one day anyway and poured out my heart. I was at the end of my rope. Once we got through the chit-chat, I found myself telling her about all the things I thought would never interest me: my child’s bodily functions, meal planning, grocery shopping (I couldn’t get through the store without the baby losing it before the bread aisle), house cleaning. How did she do it?

I liked Shannon because she was not arrogant. She listened. She was so confident. I wanted that so badly! She prayed with me, and encouraged me to seek to know the Lord more (which I thought was so funny. I knew the Lord. What did that have to do with taking care of a baby? Boy, did I have a long way to go!). She gave me some mothering tips.

She helped me.

As I look back on my early mothering years, God was so good to put people like Shannon in my path. She saw beauty in serving her family. To her, even the humble tasks, like doing laundry and wiping snot, were building blocks to leading her family to know Christ.

Somehow along the way I had separated the tasks of child care and housekeeping from the goal, and these mentoring moms (I'm sure they had no idea they were mentoring me) helped me see how seamlessly everything could flow together. They gave me a vision beyond just survival - a purpose for the tasks I considered menial.

A desire for something more was planted.

Could Jesus’ words be true? "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." I had never considered that in the context of mothering, but suddenly it all made sense. Did it make it easier? No, especially when our second child was born 15 months later, and I felt like my entire life was serving.

But it prepared me mentally to take my frustrations to God. In the crazy moments, when I thought I was losing my mind, when I felt so alone, I knew He was there.

It was the beginning.

I’m wondering: Is there someone you could seek out for godly mothering wisdom? Is there someone you could help along this road?


Marc and Charity said...

I think all I ever say in comments is "thanks." But thank you for this one. Keep 'em coming. I am praying for God to send someone to me, I need a good friend to share this stage of life with, someone that is physically here in this country. Thanks!

Susanne said...

Great post, Katherine! We all need someone we can go to and how wonderful that the Lord would use us to in turn help another Mom out.

Laura said...

You are so right. I lean heavily on my Bible study girls and of course all you amazing ladies in Blogland who mentor me without even knowing it!!

Thank YOU for your words of wisdom just when I seem to need them the most.


Anonymous said...

Your last question was about whether there's someone to be a mentor to, and I've found myself so thankful for those women God brings into my life.

Especially when I'm feeling so out of it in my current parenting journey, I am really thankful for the younger moms that can benefit from my experience/research and affirm that yes, I am an "educated professional."

(That's really important to me for some reason.)

I have been given valuable skills.

So I find my own trials and confusions keep me humble, and my ability to encourage others encourages me.

Wow. God is just so organized...
Thanks for your blog. It's recent discovery for me and I've been enjoying it very much.

Joni said...


Coming out of "lurk-dom" to say...boy, oh boy, can I relate to your latest posts. Mothering has thrown me for a jolt like nothing else in my entire life. I could really relate to what you said about feeling competent before becoming a mother because you were an icu nurse. I was an elementary school teacher and had similar thoughts. I was certain that my training had prepared me to be supermom. Can I just say...teaching and mothering are not at all the same! Sure, I might understand kids in general better than your average joe. But understanding my own children...that's a whole other story! I have thrown myself at the feet of Jesus more times than I can count at the realization of my own self-centeredness and inadequacy to be a mother and He's slowly showing me that one of the reasons He gives us children is to sanctify US! So, thanks for your wonderful posts about charting your course. I hope there are more in the works! You can find one of my latest (very raw) mothering posts at my blog. Scroll down to a post called "Touch the Hem".

Very Warmly,

Wendy said...

I felt the exact same way before having kids. I was the perfect mom, until I became one. :)

I have developed a wonderful mentor relationship w/one of the pastor's wives at our church and it has been such a help to me. I would recommend that for other young moms as well. And, for older women to be available to share w/younger woman (as described in Titus 2).

Leslie said...

Sometimes I feel like I should print your posts out and catalogue them into a binder called "Motherly Wisdom" for when the time comes... Does that count? :)

Hanging out with moms now (even though I am far from being a mother yet) has had a huge impact on the way I look at parenting. I just think moms are great!

Emily said...

I TOTALLY agree with Leslie! In fact... I have a "life binder" where I put articles/clippings/stories I love... and Katherine, it's pretty much chock full of you at this point, and only getting fuller.

Love you Katherine (and you, LB!!)!

Anonymous said...

Great posts! I read every book I could before having my son. We had a terrible time nursing, and I remember thinking, "Okay, I read the books, I know how to do this; now I just need to get him to read the books and we'll both know!" I learned quickly that things don't always go according to my plan! Thanks for the thoughtful insights!

Joyfulness said...

Hmmm... I always feel like I need other mentor moms to help me along. I learn so much from those a few steps ahead. But I've been totally alarmed by moms looking to me these days. Just cuz I have four kids does not mean I have this figured out! It's frightening and wonderful to encourage new moms...

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I set out the same way - armed in hand with Babywise and all of the "right stuff". HA HA! Some of us have to learn the hard way.

Thanks for the continuing thoughts about setting our courses. I liked the idea of tying the chores, housekeeping, etc with the goal! I feel like that is just finally sinking in over here. Thank you - I will continue to ponder and pray over absorbing that idea.

I have loved being in MOPS for this - women who have gone ahead and women who are a bit behind me.

Andrea said...

Yes, that is good advice for mothers of all stages. I find now I am seeking out mothers of teens for that stage in my life. (like you. :)
I still have so much to learn...

Jen said...

I'm in MOPS at church and it helps tremendously. We bond and talk...and cry and pray for each other.....what a great post Katherine. We have all been there.

holy chaos said...

wow! what awesome reminders!

i have been reading and re-reading Matt. 23 which goes along with what you have written...

i remember those early days...trying to have everything perfect...being totally overwhelmed!

i have six children now and I have been feeling that way again! I have been tempted to call "Clean Sweep" to come to my house!

Thanks for helping me to get re-focused!

Keri said...

When I was expecting my first baby, I had just begun offering piano lessons from my home. God sent me 3 wonderful, experienced, Christian moms and their children, who became my students. These women quickly became sources of wisdom and counsel for me, and their children became very dear to me, too. I worked with them for three years, until just before my second child was born, and I can't count the number of times I thanked God for their presence in my life. Although I don't see these women regularly these days, I know that I could call any one of them for help or advice, and they would be thrilled to come alongside me and offer whatever they could at a moment's notice.

How grateful I am for this blessing, and how I hope and pray I can be the same kind of blessing to another mom somewhere down the road!

Thank you, Katherine, for this excellent post that brings up an important point of discussion. And thank you for sharing your motherhood experience with ALL of us, near and far!

Ginger said...

Hi there, I've just stumbled upon your blog and this entry hit me hard! I've been struggling with this VERY thing. My kids, 4 of them, 5 years old on down to 4 months, are so needy. I never knew how selfish I was until I had kids! It's that whole, putting others needs before my own... I have to keep reminding myself that it's just a season, but ohhhh, from this end of diaper land, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. I keep hearing the, "Oh, you'll look back on these days as the best." And I worry, YIKES! Is it really going to get harder? Thanks for your encouragement!

Mindy said...

I didn't really have many preconcieved ideas because I was the first of any of my friends, cousins, etc, to have kids. I did have a few I will admit, like, "my kid will never scream like that at the store", and of course, they are laughable now. I have a few friends/coworkers of my husbands, who I feel like they look at me sometimes, thinking what they will do different, and it makes me smile! About the mentors, I have friends from before kids/marraige who still don't have kids and I have friends who are mothers of preschoolers that I have made since having kids, but not many who are far ahead of me. Does that make sense? So I am thankful for my blog friends who encourage me! And looking for a mentor. Good suggestion! BTW, I have linked you twice in my posts. Thought you should know. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying this little series. I think you are being a mentor here through this little series. I appreciate your honest sharing because it makes me feel like I'm not alone. :0)

Your first post brought tears to my eyes because I could relate to some of the things shared in it. I have been weary of the serving, guilty of missing the blessings in my life, etc. lately. Parenting is definitely the hardest job on earth but with God's grace we'll make it through. :0) Hanging onto Him with my every breath . . .

Christi said...

Oh, Katherine! The first few lines of this post were so - me. I remember someone commenting to me when Ryan was a newborn that I didn't seem to have a lot of questions. I replied "It didn't occur to me that I didn't have it figured out until he was born!"

Love this post - as I do most of yours!