Matt and I have often said that if money was no object, we’d be perpetual students. We love learning. So many of the experiences that helped shape me into who I am today took place during my undergraduate studies at Northwestern University, whether participating in discussions in Wendy Espeland’s Sociological Theory course, gaining a more comprehensive understanding of our country’s development through my Intro to US History course, essentially memorizing the textbook in preparation for Mark Witte’s Macroeconomics exams, or learning about the giants of Western Philosophy and their influence on contemporary thought in my Philosophy courses.
Recently I’ve decided to direct my studious nature toward a different arena – parenting and teaching young children.
I’ve found these recent weeks of parenting to be exhausting. It’s not so much the baby and the lack of a full night’s sleep; caring for Atticus requires much of me, but it’s usually pretty straightforward. Parenting the girls, on the other hand, is difficult beyond measure and draining in a different way. They need less help meeting their physical needs, but I devote hours each day to helping to shape their character, helping them to grow into the people they are going to be. And as much as I thought the stakes were high back when my biggest worries were about sleep training methods, they’re ever so much higher now. It’s not just, will she ever nap for longer than 30 minutes without me?, but, what kind of person will she grow up to be?
We’ve had several hard days during these last few weeks. I’ve made multiple phone calls to Chicagoland to check in with my good friend / parenting expert there – she has raised TWO, count them, TWO children who are functioning as adults, doing cool things, and following the Lord today! She’s two for two so far! And while she’s quick to say that she doesn’t have it all figured out either, that’s two more than I’ve raised!
In our young church community, I may not be surrounded by a multitude of older women from whom I can learn, but in the spirit of these posts – from girltalk and The Gospel Coalition – I am taking advantage of what I do have.
I’m making sure I get in at least a few minutes of time in the Word daily. Moody’s Today in the Word is going through Romans this month – hard-hitting and thought-provoking even in just a few minutes each day. I know I need to make an effort to be more consistent in prayer, as well.
I’m making those long-distance phone calls to seek out parenting advice from those with older children and parenting philosophies I respect. I sincerely appreciate it when I’m told where I probably blew it, and I try out suggestions of ways in which I can be training my kiddos going forward.
And I’m devouring the parenting resources with which I’m surrounded. In addition to some great blogs, like those above, I’ve been diving into some good books. Recently I read Hands Free Mama, which offered helpful encouragement to be truly present with my kids throughout the days (as opposed to being home with them but preoccupied by my phone or my “to do” lists…though I am curious about when the author actually does accomplish those necessary “to do” list items like dishes and laundry!). I’m about to finish The Whole-Brained Child, and I was delighted to find that much of what it discusses lines up so closely with what Matt and I learned last year from Karyn Purvis and others at the Empowered to Connect conference, though I think it will be more helpful once our kids are slightly older. And I just received a box in the mail with the parenting and teaching books that are next on my reading list – No-Drama Discipline, The Three R’s, and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.
I can’t wait to get into them and learn what I can.
As a college student, one of my worries when I contemplated becoming a stay-at-home mom was whether I would find it at all intellectually challenging. I’m discovering now that it’s every bit as challenging – and in heart-wrenching ways – as any other path I could have chosen.
What about you, readers? Any favorite books or other parenting resources?