Learning Lessons in Motherhood

I had, back in the day, tried to start a little tag called "Lessons Learned in Motherhood." I now recognize there is a certain level of arrogance in that label. Maybe I have learned a thing or two, but there are quite a few things I've yet to actually absorb. Things like the fact that no amount of work can make a perfect sleep schedule, not the mention the fact that no matter how great the sleep schedule becomes something like a new tooth can feel like you've been set back to zero.

Rog at 6 days old...was he ever really
this little and new?
Some lessons are much harder, like believing Jesus that he is good and he loves Roger more than I do and I cannot control when Roger's time on earth will end. I pray it's in 80 or so years, but the fear that it's in 80 or so minutes is never 100% abated. I do see the grace in continuing to rely on Jesus and to keep coming back to him when my heart has strayed. That grace from Jesus to be able to even have periods of peace and then receive it again when I go back to fear is immeasurable. That's why it's called grace.

The fear of Roger dying is a bit easy to write about because I've experienced a lot of victory there since he was about 4 months old. An area that hasn't seen as much victory, however, is the ugly area of comparison. I know that all children develop at different speeds and that I should only be concerned if his doctor is concerned that something is way behind schedule or if he just seems really off in an area.

Thankfully, Roger's been just fine. He went from not rolling from back-to-tum to suddenly rolling all over an area of 50 square feet in mere seconds. He refused to track with his eyes until later than his original (awful) doctor preferred, but when he wanted to he'd laser in on you and refuse to look away. There was that scary appointment where Roger was in the 0 (yes, zero) percentile for weight at his height, meaning that pretty much every other 4 month old his age and height weighed more than him. But then at our last appointment he was around the 25th percentile in the same category and was totally fine.

Unfortunately, I still look at other babies around his age and constantly second guess my mothering. Someone else's baby a bit older than him is already doing sign language. Am I not trying hard enough to teach him signs? Should I just keep trying to teach "milk" to him when he can see his made bottle and is screaming with frustration that I won't give it to him because I'm trying to teach him sign language? I say it's for his good, so he can communicate, but is that really honest? At least, is that the only reason?

Then there's the boy at church who can sit up without support. I tortured myself trying to remember how old he is. I think he's about a month older. But what if he's younger? Or only a week older? Roger's nowhere near sitting on his own. We practice, both sitting on the floor with minimal support from me, and also the doctor's recommendation of using the Boppy as much as possible to encourage him to work on core strength. Unfortunately, Rog will sit up in the Boppy for about .25 seconds before either arching his back and getting stuck, the small of his back high centered over the large bump of the Boppy, or he'll just pitch forward and do what he really wants, which is roll all over...the thing I was so worried that he wasn't doing yet 2 months ago. Now it's not good enough--doesn't he know he needs to be able to sit up and develop a strong core so he can eventually crawl and walk and this is all for his good!!

Back when I still thought the blanket made a difference,
Roger would start out like this...

...and literally 2 minutes later he'd be like this.
I'd say he developed his rolling capabilities quite well, no?
I wish those were two anomalies, exceptions to the rule. Sadly, I do that with everything. I remember how our friend Josh did the trick with his daughter where he balanced her feet in his palm and she stood upright and he'd lift his arm and she thought it was the greatest game ever. I try to remember how old she was, and decide that it's high time Roger is able to do that, so I try to help him stand up (which, if support is at his hips, he's GREAT at) by supporting him at his thighs or lower, but he just sort of folds into a pancake at the waist.

I worry when he doesn't really make any new sounds--he's not practicing anything yet, just makes the normal little squeals and peals of playing. I try to talk and teach him as much as possible--I always tell him what we're doing, "we" count and sing ABC's and read lots of books and I'm as intentional as possible all day long to foster an environment conducive to Roger's learning.

Now, maybe you read this and think, "Oh, she's doing fine. She needs to give herself some grace." I'm actually not fine. See, the common thread in all of this is that it's very minimally about Roger's development and increasingly about me and if my effort to help him learn and grow is evident in his accomplishments. Secondly, I cannot give myself grace. Only Jesus gives grace, and I can choose to receive it or I can keep spinning out like a truck stuck in spring rain's mud.

Rog can stand and balance on his own if we prop him up for about 30 seconds...

...then he does this :)

The honest truth is that I'm chock full of pride. I've promised myself that the first time Roger strings together the sounds of, "mamamamama," I won't jump on Facebook and tell everyone that Roger just said Mama! I know that almost always a child will say mama or dada but they don't actually associate the name with their parents until they're a minimum of 9-12 months old with rare exception. I know better, you see, so I won't be the braggart parent who looks ridiculous.

This one? He's Jesus', not mine.

Worse, I have sworn to myself that I will let Roger be as he is, praying not that he'll be a genius but that he'll love learning. But if I'm really honest, deep down I think how can Roger not be smart? Jason and I are both fairly intellectually adept. I did exceptionally well in school and though his grades weren't quite on par with mine Jason is seriously brilliant, far more mentally astute than I. The problem is that while I say that I just want Roger to honor Jesus by always doing his best, being a worshiper of Jesus and a good steward, secretly I want Roger to both be brilliant but also self-driven so that I'm not that awful parent whose child never feels good enough. And, of course, the better Roger does at "life," starting with simple things like rolling over and culminating later in huge life choices, the better I both feel as a parent look like a competent parent to others, possibly even someone to envy! In reality, any good thing in Roger's life is because of God's grace and I might truly do the best job possible has Roger's mama and things could, in my version of his life story if I cling to it, go horribly wrong. It's all about Jesus, not about me, not even really about Roger in the larger sense.

Ugh. I hate being this honest because the lies I tell myself, and subsequently everyone else, feel so much safer and are so much "cleaner" than the truth. But the truth is reality, and I want to live in the light of truth and not keep struggling in this darkness and shame. The unsettling feeling of rottenness in my bones is ever present when I'm not being honest about my heart, and I feel the pressure it puts on my sweet young boy even at this tender young age. He's not old enough to remember it yet but it doesn't mean he can't already experience the negative effects of a mom pressuring him to perform.

The answer is always the same (that's for you, if you still stalk me Sarah formerly-W-now-S): Jesus. Where he reveals that my heart is not agreeing with him I get to repent, turn away from the death and destruction and be restored to life and joy and Christ.

Yes, he's wearing Christmas jammies.
They're the only fleece ones we have in this size
and we went for a walk early this morning in the cold!
And you know what? I wrote all but that last paragraph late last week, in the midst of the awfulness. But just today, Monday, October 3rd, I did believe Jesus more, and when Roger refused to work on his core strength I got over it and we just played on the floor. We literally had our best day together yet. There was tons of laughter and playing and jokes and smiling and "chatting" and hanging out. I adore that boy, and still on a daily basis am in awe that he's my son, that when we go hang out with a bunch of other people and their kids, Roger is the one that comes home with us. I'm utterly in love with him.

Honestly, I crave joy. Why suffer in silence? Why not let the Holy Spirit reveal these things instead of fighting him? Why not experience life and joy where there was only death and sadness? Oh, Jesus! Let me not forget this truth, and when I do forget, may my folly be short-lived, my repentance quick and authentic!

And, one last Roger-related thing: milestone alert! Thursday, tooth number one (the bottom left front tooth) broke through and today (again, Monday, Oct 3) its neighbor, bottom right front tooth, broke through! Additionally, Saturday he ate food (other than milk/formula) for the first time--oat cereal. You can check out the video here, and another one where he, in awesome Roger fashion, immediately ate seconds :)

1 comment:

  1. LOVE it. You know it's so true- someone literally said the words, "the answer is always the same" the other day, and I had a nostalgic moment where I realized the saying is just as true now as it was then. I adore your honesty with others and yourself- Gods sanctification within you is broadly viewed through this sweet blog, and even though it's hard, I want to encourage you that you are totally using gifts that God has BLESSED you with to glorify him. How friggin' cool.