From the time I found out I would be a mother, I wanted advice. Parenthood was something I was looking forward to. Babysitting in high school and college was fun to me. I enjoyed being around children (not babies, children). Even though I had experience being a “mother”, I wanted advice. Before Harper was born, I would ask mothers, whom I respected,
How to you parent Biblically? What books should I read? What blogs should I read? What did you do wrong that I can learn from? Did you let them watch a lot of TV or not? What routines were best? And on and on and on…
I was searching for methods on how to raise Harper. I was wanting someone to tell me what to do at every second. "What do I do if she cries? Is she hungry?"
Anyway, when Harper arrived, everything clicked. I wasn’t worried about teaching scripture, but just keeping her alive (haha) and loved. That was not very hard. I had received the God given instinct to care for my child.
As time went on and Harper started to learn about the world, I would constantly be entertaining her. Let me back up. My undergraduate degree was in Human Development & Family Studies. In other words, I spent 4 (expensive) years learning about children’s development and how they react with the world around them. I memorized multiple theories on child rearing from
great psychologists. I wanted to stimulate Harper’s
brain at all times. I would never let her play by herself. I was always there
stimulating brain development. I thought this would make her smarter. It made her
very active and attached. (Now, she is looking for constant entertainment and
As time went on, I began to question my ability to be a mother. My child cried a lot, wouldn’t sit in a car seat, wanted me to hold her at all times, wouldn’t nap without me, wouldn’t do anything without me there. She had me tied around her finger. I had conditioned her to be very attached. As I became weary, I thought many times to just put her in daycare. I obviously can’t regulate a schedule, nor can I take any more crying. I had no time to myself, or along with Daniel. When I mentioned daycare to Daniel, he was against it. He said that would be the easy way out. Mary, you have to think and figure it out.
For the past year, I have been reading parenting books. I have been so obsessed with parenting advice. I want to read every little bit of it. The bad part about books is, I was letting them do the thinking for me. When I couldn’t get Harper to sleep, I would Google sleep schedules or read Baby Wise. That didn’t work. I even called The Sleep Lady to see if she could help. She certainly could help for about $1000. Daniel laughed for a day about that suggestion. Anyway, I was not thinking for myself. Since Harper was so wild, I trained my mind to think I was inadequate for my job. If someone would say, “Awe, she’s so happy!”, my response was, “It’s because we’re out of the house, and she can look around.” The fact of the matter was, I was doing a fine job of being a mother, but undercutting my ability. Harper Lee Sims is perfectly normal. After telling so many people she wasn’t as well-behaved as she looks, I believed it. The devil, right then and there, stole my joy with her. From then on, I was enslaved to what I would call, parenting sin. I judged my ability to parent. “Am I doing this right? Is she hungry? Is she laughing? Am I being too hard on her?” I would overthink things instead of just enjoying her and discipline her in the Lord. I had lost all confidence. ALL CONFIDENCE.
Daniel and I (Harper, too) have been visiting a new church in the Jackson area. We love First Pres, but lived far from the church. I started attending a women’s Bible study on Wednesdays and putting Harper in the nursery. She did great (after the 1st Sunday). Last Sunday, we got to stay for the entire service – a treat! Yesterday was a different story, I got buzzed early on and then again at the end. We heard other buzzers going off in church, but not ours. Evidently when Harper cries, the rest of the children cry (so the nursery worker told us). When Daniel and I picked up Harper after church, I could tell the lady over the nursery was semi frustrated that Harper’s crying made the other children upset. I asked her what I should do about the situation. Would Mother’s Morning Out help? Could I get someone to come over and keep her? I sounded like a teenager who knew nothing about parenting. My mind was just so tired and worn out. I just wanted her to say, “Keep bringing her! It will get better!” Daniel and I headed home and he looked at me and said, “Why do you act so stupid? You’re smart! You just don’t think.” He was a little annoyed I stood there and asked advice from 5 other women. I understood his point. I don’t think. I lack confidence now and run to books or respectable people. I feel like I’m brain dead, because I overthink.
Daniel reminded me that this period in Harper’s life is easy. She’s not a teenager. And if we teach her now, she won’t be a rebellious teenager. All we need to do now is love on her, spank her when she disobeys and keep her alive, haha! I used to think if Daniel died, Harper would know nothing about the Bible, because I am not equipped to teach her. Wrong again. That’s just another lie I have been sucked into. I believe one leading factor to me not thinking for myself, is my phone. My handheld computer, who can entertain my mind with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and shopping takes absolutely no thinking. The only thing I think about during the day is when is Harper’s nap, so I can sleep, too. Honestly. My mind is not at work. Daniel will often times talk to me about scripture or business ideas and he asks, “So what do you think?” and every time I say, “I mean, I don’t know.” (or something unintelligent). I feel like I’m just going through the motions of every day life without using my brain.
Back to the phone issue. My time spent on my phone is unhealthy. Along with not using my mind, I sometimes (although I do love taking pictures and letting others enjoy her!) fall into the sin of pride. Sure, I sew, I embroider, I dress Harper in cute clothes (thanks to my mother), I eat at restaurants, I weigh less after a baby than before, I have the perfect family in the nicest town of Mississippi… sure, I do. I just finished Tim Keller’s 46 page book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Life changing. Buy it (http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Self-Forgetfulness-Timothy-Keller/dp/1906173419/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355182480&sr=8-1&keywords=freedom+of+self-forgetfulness) . Anyway, it talked about pride. I’ll just take a short exerpt from page 18,
“In his famous chapter on pride in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis points out that pride is by nature competitive. It is competitiveness that is the very heart of pride. ‘Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next person. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about.’ Pride destroys the ability to have any real pleasure.”
Truth. Wow. C.S. Lewis hits the nail on the head. How profitable is it that all 4,000 of my friends on Facebook know I have a wonderful life? None. It’s not good for the family unit, nor Harper. (I need to delete a lot, but it takes forever.) Nothing is private anymore. I am often times upset with myself when I forget to bring my phone in the back while feeding her. What am I supposed to do while I feed her for 20 minutes? ENJOY HER. Pray for her. Love her. Ask God to save her. Like a child, folly is bound up in my heart, also (Proverbs 22:15). The devil attacks us daily. We would be going down the wrong road if he didn’t attack us. He is real. Praise the Lord for a loving husband and child. Daniel and I are reminded when the devil shows up how important it is to memorize and meditate on scripture. THAT’S what Harper will see. She won’t ask me methods on parenting, but imitate every step I make. My relationship with the Lord should shine so bright; she knows I’m a believer without asking (reminds me of Kelli Dart – you can see the love all over her!). THAT’S what she’ll learn form me. Not that I read my daily devotion and parenting book, but that I showed her grace.
I am reminded this is a learning experience. I won’t be perfect at raising her. I will fail multiple times, humble myself and ask for forgiveness. I will sin; that’s a fact. I am looking forward to the freedom in parenting. Being enslaved entertains your mind in a negative way. I pray God will hear my prayer, I will meditate/ memorize and put my relationship with Him above all. Harper was made for God. Now I’m going to enjoy her J
To all parents/ grandparents, I would highly suggest you read Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. It has been very eye-opening! I talked to our Children’s Director, John Kwasny (LA people might know him, from Plains Presbyterian), and he recommended it, also. I am so thankful to have him in Jackson!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
(I'll add pictures tomorrow. Daniel is home alone with Wild Bill. I know he's secretly stressed.)