About Me

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I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Friday, January 29, 2010

How I became the Mom I am Today

A couple weeks ago, my blogger friend Tiffany at A Moment Cherished wrote a blog about five experiences that shaped her into the mother she is today.  Her post has caused me to ponder what the major influences in my life have been.  What things were the most pivotal in shaping how I respond to my children & the life impacting choices I have made for my family?  I've been stewing on this ever since I read Tiffany's post and it's hard to pinpoint specific experiences because so much of who we become is because of the cumulative effect of thousands of small seemingly insignificant day to day experiences.   But here I sit still wanting to nail down some specific things that have made me the mom I am today.  So, let me go boldly forth in this endeavor and shed some light on who, what, why & how I became what I am.

1)  One of the most obvious influences on my parenting is my parents & how they parented me.  My dad & mom loved me and I knew I was loved...(not every kid can say that, sadly.)  My dad hugged me a lot; my mom bragged on me a lot.  They took me to church every Sunday; they read aloud to us; we always ate dinner together as a family; birthdays and holidays were celebrated with exuberance.  My family was always really open about things that other families weren't...I always kind of had an understanding of the workings of the female body because my mom just existed openly with us...while my best friend didn't even know what pads & tampons were until sex ed in 4th or 5th grade.  My parents expected us to take our responsibilities seriously but they never forced any responsibilities on us (I don't recall ever having set chores)...most were of our own choosing (like 4-H & extra-curricular activities.) There are so many things that I learned from my parents that I do with my children.  They are so ingrained in me that I cannot separate those behaviors from my identity as a parent.

My parents did so many things right...but they did a lot of things wrong too and the things they did wrong influenced me as much as the things they did right.  I recall as a teen specifically making notes to myself about what I was NOT going to be like as a parent based on what my parents WERE like.  I laugh at that now but the truth was--it did have an enormous impact on my parenting style now.  Sometimes when I run out of patience with my girls and start making unreasonable demands...I remember my notes and I pause...I take a moment to acknowledge the new found understanding & appreciation for my mom and then I try to do things differently because I still can remember how it felt to be the kid.  When I get into a battle of wills with my 2 year old...I remember the battles of wills I had with my mother and I know that if Jasmine is anything like me...I need to change my strategy because when my mom pushed me--it only made me push back harder. (I'm speaking figuratively, of course. *smile*  I don't want you thinking we literally were pushing each other!) Because of these experiences with my mom, I know that her approach didn't work and that I need to find a better way to change my stubborn child's behavior.

2) My salvation is another HUGE factor in my role as a parent.  I grew up in the church.  From the moment I was born, I was sitting in the pews with my family.  I can't tell you the exact date of my acceptance of Jesus as my Savior.  I can't tell you how old I was for sure...BUT I can tell you that I remember it.  I hold the belief that I was around the age of 5 but I could be wrong.  It was during my church's summer VBS program.  I remember going to the alter and praying.  This is important for so many reasons.  One of the obvious reasons is that knowing Jesus changes the way you see the world and a person's worldview is THE thing that most affects how we live our life and thus raise our children.  But coming to the Lord at such a young age gave me confidence to know that a child's salvation prayer does mean something to God.  Even at the age of 4 or 5, a child can understand enough of Christ's sacrifice to make a decision for Him and God honors that.  As a mom, the confidence in this knowledge, affects my view on spiritual training.  It also gives me perspective on what it means to have a child like faith...I remember specific instances when I had such a child-like faith and it was honored by God.  Like the concert I knew I was going to be invited to and the summer I prayed that God would keep the snakes out of the yard.  (Click here for more details on that.) Now as a mom I have access to those memories and hopefully I use them to encourage & strengthen my children's faith and to recapture that faith within myself, as well.

3) Meeting Russ & his family is another biggie in so many ways.  He introduced me to a world of "thinking outside the box".  I was brought up very conventionally and was taught to think pretty conventionally.  While I have always been the "rebel thinker" in my family--it wasn't until I met Russ that I started to learn how "normal" it is for some people to be different.  Meeting Russ influenced my thinking on health and changed my views in regard to food.  Meeting Russ & his family challenged my thinking on the government & social obligations.  Meeting Russ expanded my views on education & gave me more conviction in my desire to home school.  My relationship with Russ certainly rearranged & shifted some elements of my worldview and in that way certainly has had a huge impact on the decisions we make in regard to our children.  I certainly wouldn't be the mom I am today if I had never met him and his family.

4) The books & magazines I've read and the programs I've watched have been incredibly influential on my parenting.  While I am not the kind of person who thinks I need to follow any book, philosophy or experience exactly or I'm failing, (I'm pretty go-with-the-flow in my parenting...I figured they'll be fine no matter how many mistakes I make as long as they know I love them at the end of the day.) I am all about learning from other people's experience and trying out good ideas when I can so I have soaked up a lot of information about parenting from outside sources.  I often access my internal files for a way to better handle things with my children.  I utilize ideas I've learned  from Gary Ezzo,  Kevin Lehman, the Nanny & Cookie magazine.  Sometimes they work & sometimes they don't but in combination they have shaped the way I think about parenting and (occasionally) the way I actually parent. ;)

5) The births of my children are what make me a mommy & not just another working woman.  I've always known I wanted to be a mom...when I was in college (and single) and people asked me what I planned to do with my degree if I decided to be truly honest I would tell them that I wanted to get married and be a stay-at-home mom.  I usually wasn't that honest because, unfortunately, being a homemaker isn't highly valued in our acedemian society, and I guess I was ashamed to admit it.  But when Eden was born and they put her on my chest seconds after she left my body, I wept and marveled at her warmth & weight (5 lb 14 oz!) and in that moment (when I officially became "mama") it was like getting a glimpse of the Divine. 
What could be more important than being a mom? God gave me this perfect precious little child and trusted me with leading her from this helpless squirming cone headed state into womanhood.  What an honor!  And now I am Mama to three girls who I must always remember are only mine for a time, by God's grace, and must parent them with that in mind.  I have been entrusted with His daughters and therefore I have to try my best to raise them His way and through His leading and learn to let Him have them back when I want to cling too tightly and trust that He loves them even MORE than I do and thank him for trusting me enough to let me be their mommy!

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

I absolutely loved reading this,and I am so glad you decided to write it! Isn't it need to reflect back on the experiences God gave us in order to weave together our tapestry of being a mommy? God is so good. I love your story.