Today on Mombies Unite, Sheila is giving some perspective and down-to-earth advice about parenting from (almost) the other side!
Meet Sheila. Sheila's a stay-at-home-mom to three almost grown children. Although they homeschool, if you follow her on Instagram, you'll know from her incredible travel photos that there's not too much staying at home involved! Sheila's blog, Making the Most of Every Day covers a range of topics from faith and family, fashion and beauty, food and health, and home and gardening. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Sheila through The Blended Blog and I appreciate her perspective at a different stage of parenting!
This post originally appeared on Making the Most of Every Day blog.
In case you thought otherwise, let me tell you right now: parenting is hard.
Colic. Diaper rash. Teething. Croup. Chronic ear infections. Temper tantrums. Potty training.
If you are a mama to a young one, you know what I'm talking about. I'm preaching to the choir. Some of you begin the parenting race already feeling behind, right from the start. You hope to survive those early years and hold out to when it gets easier. I hate to tell you that sometimes you are just faced with new dilemmas.
Learning disabilities. Bullies. Disobedience. Diagnoses of various issues such as autism, food allergies, processing disorders, dyslexia.
Even if families are spared the struggle of these major traumas, they certainly can relate to the little annoying things such sibling rivalry, messy rooms, procrastination.
Additional nagging thoughts include how do you decide on how much screen time to allow, will they will they be allowed to participate in sleepovers and when is the right age to let them stay home alone?
Invariably, parents analyze the situation at hand and can't help playing the What if game. I don't know of anyone who has avoided it.
What if we had a different teacher?
What if we lived in a different school district? In a different state? In a different country?
What if we homeschool?
What if we go gluten-free?
Or if not the What if game, then the Why did I game?
Why did I allow those vaccinations?
Why did I let him sleep in our bed?
Why didn't I say something? Do something?
Most parents want what is best for their kids (I started to type "all parents" but having friends in the foster care system, I know that not all parents want that.) However, what is good for one person does not necessarily mean it is good for another. So, really, we are all just scientists performing experiments, trying to find the right outcome for each child. Sometimes we get it right. But many times we don't.
The sleepless nights.
It can wear a body out. It can cause despair, if we let it.
When we start out on this parenting journey, we have ideals, we have dreams, we have goals. But then life happens and those standards begin to sink lower and lower. I will never forget a Baby Blues cartoon from about 20 years ago that illustrated this point so succinctly. In the first frame [Before Children] a couple is out strolling in a park and a child dressed in mismatched clothes runs by. The woman remarks to the man, "How can people let their kids go out dressed like that?" In the next frame [After Children], the same couple is walking in the park with their child wearing mismatched clothing and the mother remarks to the man, "Well, at least she's covered." Parents understand this too-close-to-home humor.
In order to survive, we have to learn to fight the battles that really count. Unfortunately, sometimes we simply don't know how to fight them, even the ones that really count. We have no ammunition for that kind of battle. And it's at that point that the only answer is Jesus.
I know that to some this solution may sound trite, but until you have walked in those shoes, you cannot possibly understand. The view is completely different from that vantage point, from that valley.
My friend, Shaunacey, has written an article about eliminating Mom Guilt. My take-away from it: let us cut each other some slack. [Another great article that pertains to this topic deals with agreeing to disagree appeared right here on the Mombies Unite series.]
So can I encourage us to hold back on judging another person's decisions and, instead, pray for that mom or dad in that difficult situation? Can we do that? Rather than think about, or even worse, point out the mistakes that person may have made in her child rearing, join her in asking for deliverance for that wayward child. I am fairly certain that she is doing just that: praying, hoping, wishing for that season, that trait, that period to pass.
I know this sounds bleak. I don't mean to be such a Debbie Downer, but this is not a Pollyanna post. However, the Lord tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. So how DO you (how do I) find gratitude when the outlook looks grim?
Jesus promised us that where two or three are gathered in his name, Heis with us. Even if the situation does not improve instantly after we pray (and believe me, I've been in that boat), companionship with each other - and with Jesus - can help sustain a mother and a father through another day, another crisis, another season.
I am walking down this difficult road right now, and I am blessed to be a part of a small prayer group of moms who pray for each others' children. We celebrate each small victory, and we cry with each other during particularly difficult moments.
Recently, I had an open conversation with some family members and they, too, are praying. I am grateful to be surrounded by so many prayer warriors. I don't know what I would do without my support system.
If you are struggling with a similar situation, if any of this rings true in your life and you would like information about my prayer group (it's a national organization; there may be one near you!) let me know! You can email me at
Until that day comes when my child is changed, I will continue to Ask, Seek and Knock and I will continue to give thanks, even in the hard eucaristeo.
If you're encouraged by Sheila, why not let her know below