I've survived the tenth birthday of my oldest child. My first baby. The one who officially made me a Mommy. That means...
...well, I'm not sure what that means. It feels like it oughta be a milestone, though, don't you think?
Considering I've birthed five little humans in just over half a decade, I've survived first doctor's appointments, first teeth, first haircuts, first steps, first over-nighters, and oh-so-much more, perhaps I've gleaned a nugget or two of truth.
Obviously, having made it for ten years as a parent, I've learned a Whole Great Big Lot of Things. And since I fancy myself helpful, I've created a list to help all y'all out. Just for your
1. If you think you smell poop, go with that instinct. It's rarely wrong.
2. Find ways to say 'Yes' to your kids. Even if it means glitter in the rug, it feels good to say yes and they LOVE to hear it!
3. The Mommy Wars? Forget them. We each wage war against the Enemy every day fighting for our sanity and the souls of our children. Let go of the one-up-manship and focus on YOUR day.
4. Krispy Kreme for dinner every once in a while is a treat for everyone.
5. Little moments build big trust. Listen when your four year old wants to tell you every detail of her seven page illustrations. Look your eight year old in the eye when they are giggling their way through a narrative that seems more annoying than amusing. Make talking to you a safe and inviting place. Tween issues are just around the bend.
6. Play with those babies. The laundry will wait.
7. Set aside intentional Family Fun Nights. Movies or games or walks in the park.
8. When your child sits quietly and serenely through a two hour church service, it's definitely not all your fault.
9. When you child pitches a fit every eleven minutes through a two hour church service, it's definitely not all your fault.
10. Spend time with your sweetheart. Date night? Fabulous. Can't do it? Put those munchkins to bed and have candle-light dessert in the living room. It's not about what you do, it's about making the time.
11. Take a vacation with your family. Anything that allows you as parents to lay aside the Everyday Routine and spend more time focusing on your family qualifies as a vacation. Camping, beach trip, Disney. Just change the scenery and the routine and the responsibilities. It's hard when they're all little, but it gets easier!
12. It doesn't matter how your family is put together, somebody isn't going to like it. But rest assured, God has a good and perfect plan for how He's ordered you and your people. Trust Him.
13. This Parenting Gig is the hardest dang thing you'll ever do. Don't get it in your head that it's supposed to be all rainbows and milkshakes and clean, white pinafores. It's raw and limit-testing and breaking and rewarding and imperfectly perfect.
14. Don't be afraid to blow the day's schedule to bits and curl up on the couch to cuddle and watch a movie with the very people who are making you shake with frustration and disbelief. Bonding over Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a bowl of popcorn covers a multitude.
15. June Cleaver is a character. Beaver's lines were written by adults. Wally's real siblings weren't on air with him. Ward is not your narrator. This is Real Life and it's messy.
16. Pajama days decrease your laundry workload and are novel to the children in your life.
17. Work hard in those early years to train your child right. It's exhausting, but it pays off in the short term and the long term. I promise.
18. Pick your battles and ignore what you can. We are immune to quiet giggles and light thumps that come from the kids bedrooms after lights out. If they are on their beds, we win. You can't force sleep, potty training, or eating.
19. Find your village. Nothing builds or eats away at friendships like raising children. Just because you've been with your friends throughout college and the pre-parenting years doesn't mean those people are the best honorary aunts and uncles for your kids. If you're super lucky, some of these relationships pass the We All Have Kids Now test. Chances are, there are some that won't. Don't burn bridges, but certainly look to build new ones that benefit your family's world view.
20. Pay attention when a kid says, "Mama, watch me!" You could witness a first time achievement or prevent a trip to the emergency room.
21. Let them take risks, but be there to help them if they really need it. Allowing independence builds confidence. Kids need both. And they need your arms there to hug them in success or failure.
22. Apologize when you act out. And oh, sweet Mama, you will. Even if you're incredibly patient and creative and together, you will lose your ever-loving mind with those precious little ones upon occasion. It's okay. They need to know you're a real human and they need to see you practice repentance and humility.
23. Revel in their quirks. Be thankful. One of those weird little personality traits may be The Defining Gift God gave them in this life. It's your privilege to pray over that child and their strengths and weaknesses and do your best to model Christ and mold them to be Christ-like. We've already established parenting ain't a fluff assignment.
24. Television is not evil. Pick shows that reinforce good character and clean humor and then utilize those bad boys!
25. Pray. A lot. For you. For them. The more you're on your knees before God, the less likely it is that your kids will bring you to your knees.