Blog Post, Mother Culture

Loving them Well

We named him Blaze Josiah. Both of his names refer to fire. Our hope was he would be a spark, a flame of joy, hope, love, Christ. I believe he will be. In the meantime, sometimes he covers his ears when we pray. He doesn’t care to be told what to do (who does?). Transitioning into and out of any activities can be delicate and provoke him. We have spent the last month being screamed at – I am talking about red faced, contorted expression screaming directly at us anytime he is unhappy. I have prayed. I have cried. I work really hard to offer him a beautiful life. A real childhood. I read him scripture, he memorizes it. We sing hymns, read classic chapter books. His days are filled with the outdoors, family, poetry, hands on activities, and short lessons. Yet he still shoves his brothers any time they upset him while playing. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have ran to one of my younger boys in horror after observing my eldest toss them to the floor in a squabble over a preferred toy.

I do everything I have been promised will give him a great foundation and beginning in life and education.

I have watched my son who was attached to me and nursed for nearly three years, put space between us and disrespect me in ways that have really hurt my heart. I have asked myself what I am doing wrong. I have asked friends. I have sought counsel and read books.

So this week I made myself a promise. I promised to watch my thoughts and my words towards my son. As we embarked on this new week I determined to give him specific and genuine compliments several times a day. As I passed him while he played, I tousled his hair or gave his shoulder a quick squeeze. I have watched him while I cooked a meal and found things he was doing well. I openly commented on it where his brothers could hear. I have given him tasks to do and then praised him when he followed through. I have let him get upset and told him I would wait for him to calm down enough to hear me. Without raising my voice or becoming emotionally heated, I have explained to him thoughtfully what his behaviors were and what the consequences would be.

My aim was 5 authentic, specific compliments each day. I wanted to touch him, hug him, or kiss him at least 10 times a day (that is tough with a wild and free 6 year old).

I have done this for four days.

Today we crossed some sort of threshold.

He has been smiling. He has been proud when he accomplishes a task. He has been able to calm himself and listen to an instruction. I have been floored. He completed his math in 12 minutes this morning. Beaming he came to me and said, “When I give it all of my attention, I am done sooner and get to go and play.” My heart soared! At lunch, he reviewed his skip counting, he recited his memory verse, and he hugged me on his own, without any provocation.

“The child brings with him into the world, not character, but disposition. He has tendencies which may need only to be strengthened, or, again, to be diverted or even repressed. His character — the efflorescence of the man wherein the fruit of his life is a-preparing — is original disposition, modified, directed, expanded by education; by circumstances; later, by self-control and self-culture; above all, by the supreme agency of the Holy Ghost, even where that agency is little suspected, and as little solicited.”  –Charlotte Mason

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He raced downstairs to proclaim, “You can trust me, mom. I put all of my clothing away.”

To say I am excited is an understatement. My children are my treasures on this Earth. Most of my day is spent brainstorming how to teach them, help them, give them whatever I can. Many nights are spent praying for them. I am so grateful that I get the opportunity to change my own habits and in doing so, help my son start fresh.

So here is to my eldest doing hard things. Here is to him learning to love prayer. Here is to him learning to love God and life and others. I am willing to do my part.

Mother Culture

Be Brave, Mama Bear

I found two beautiful little bar necklaces a couple weeks ago. It is a style I have kept my eye on and never could really afford. They turned up on sale and a stellar price. As I put one on, I noticed how beautifully they paired together. A little mantra for my heart, “Be brave, Mama Bear.”

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Why brave? Brave because the weight of bringing little ones with you everywhere can be crushing. Brave because motherhood comes with expectations, responsibilities, and emotions that can easily swallow you whole. Brave because taking care of them means taking care of you. I was listening to a Sally Clarkson podcast last week and one statement really resonated with me (paraphrased), When you go to drink from an empty glass, you get nothing. No refreshment, no filling, no satiation – your need is not met. Same for moms, if you try and give to your children from an empty, exhausted place you provide them little. Now the pressure is on! Be brave because you need to fill your cup, mama. I am not sharing this for you, more for me. Or maybe for you, if you need to hear it too.

Here is the thing: I used to feel guilty if I bought myself something nice (the children need things more than I do). I would feel badly if I left them for two hours to spend time with a friend or go on a walk alone (my first duty is to my kids, they need me). I would not allow myself time to read a book for pleasure, or to sit and sip my hot coffee. Then I began to understand what I was offering them. I was offering my exhausted, bitter, cranky, easily frustrated, wore down self. It was all I had to give them.

Be brave, mama bear. Be brave and take 10 minutes to read some scripture or a new book while you sip your favorite warm tea. Be brave and hang out with the ones that fill you up. Be brave and smile and laugh in the woods all by yourself. Be brave and ask your husband to watch his babies so you can run and grab a pedicure with a friend.

I am not advocating doing less for your children. I don’t even put a demand on how often I do these things. Demands can become more crushing than freeing. I am merely saying, offer your children yourself from as full and beautiful a place as you are able to. In the newborn with two toddlers phase that may look like a shower every day and nothing more. In the one or two have started school and I have a toddler phase it will probably look more like time to yourself, time with a friend (how exciting, right?).

So, be brave, Mama Bear. You can do this. You can pour from a filled place.