When I was expecting I did what I always do, I read and researched as much as possible to prepare for this new thing in my life. But even I knew enough to realize I was still going to have no idea what to expect. So that makes it a little difficult to answer the “is it what you expected” question.
What I do know is that I am not what I expected. I had some pretty clear thoughts – from all that research – on what I’d do and how I’d handle this parenting thing. Some of them have held true, some of them haven’t. But one thing I’ve realized is how incredibly blessed I am to have people around me who have made the same choices I’m trying to make. Moms who have walked out the things I am discovering are best for our family. This village of moms have made all the difference in the world for me. They have emboldened me to keep moving forward with decisions that are a little against the flow – and helped me to see they are more common than I thought. Their encouragement has kept me going when I otherwise might have quit and gone an “easier” way. I continue to feel like a sponge, eager to soak up their wisdom. To these wonderful women I and my daughter are forever indebted.
My awareness of the value of their support has also made me pretty passionate about providing that support to others. I see so many moms who seem to be drowning under the expectations of our culture to do certain things. I want to scream from the rooftops the things I’ve learned so far. I want them to know they have an advocate in their desire to follow their mommy instincts and do some things that may seem against our western cultural grain. I’m finding my heart drawn to be an advocate for the little ones. To learn and share information on what they need, what their little vulnerable bodies are hardwired for. And to encourage moms to do all they can to soak in this precious time that is so very short and fleeting.
But that passion can go a little overboard and I have to really remember that we’re all walking our own walk and we are called to first and foremost show each other grace and love.
As I think back to the judgements I had as a single person toward moms who chose the things I’m now choosing I realize just how fluid this life is. We have to remember that we might just change our minds about what is “best”. And in lots of areas, that’s ok. I do believe there are some absolute truths that aren’t subject to our preferences, but I have to remind myself that most of these parenting decisions don’t fall into that category. When I’m tempted to take part in the aweful trend of mom shaming, I have to remember that where I want to take out that speck, I probably have a plank in my own eye that needs much more attention. Someone recently said we should focus more on the grace at work than the sin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anyone’s parenting choices are a sin, but I think it’s a great principle to apply to this whole mom shaming phenomenon. If we see someone doing something we don’t agree with, remembering that they are walking a different road, with a different kid, and most of all remembering the grace at work – that they truly love their child and are doing what they think is best – can go a long way towards walking in grace ourselves. Do we stay quiet if we have information that might help them? I don’t think so. Do we offer that info with a huge dose of humility and grace? We sure better. Should we remember that feeling of wanting to share info to truly help when we’re on the receiving end of that “advice”? I sure hope we do.
Grace coming and grace going, maybe that’s one of the biggest lessons I’m learning as I learn to parent as part of this wonderfully diverse village.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
– 1 Peter 4:8-10