Flashback Friday - Lucky Number Seven

Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory:  Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved. ~Kate Samperi 
Last Sunday, my boy turned seven years old.  Seven.  I have no idea where all of that time went.  It feels like yesterday I was carrying him around in my ginormous belly, struggling through the hottest summer I'd ever experienced.  I remember the sourdough bread and rice pudding cravings.  I remember the (highly uncharacteristic) aversion to meat.  I remember having to take my wedding rings off my finger, and how uncomfortable I was walking around looking like a pregnant fourteen year old with no wedding ring.  (Because, friends, apparently I struggle a bit too much with worrying about other people think of me.)  I remember the surreal experience of the doctor laying him on my chest after an uncharacteristically quick labor for a first child of his size.  I remember realizing, "Oh my goodness.  I am a mom."

Now that I am a mom, I understand the paradox of time.  That is, how seven years can feel like an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once.

Seven years is the time it takes to see your colicky, pudgy baby turn into a responsible, sensitive young man.  To see your family grow from a young couple into a crazy, wonderful household of five.  To realize that with each child you add to your family that you still have oh-so-very-much to learn about motherhood.

Over the past seven years, I have evolved as a mom.  I like to think it's for the better.  Time will tell, I suppose.  We all think we know exactly what to do before we have kids.  Some of my "favorite" parenting advice has come from people who don't have children of their own.  Because they're really the only ones who do know exactly what to do.  Once you actually have one, things are a lot less cut and dried.  

As I sit and reflect on the "Evolution of Me" over the past seven years, I realize I have learned a lot of things.  And, it should come as no surprise at all that I will be listing some of them for you today.

I have learned...

...that if I hover over my children they might never get hurt, but they won't learn how to prevent themselves from getting hurt.  And that's worth a few bumps, bruises, and hurt feelings.
...that simple is always better.  (This is one I'm still learning.  I said "evolution", not "instant transformation".)
...that what worked every single time on one child might not work even once on another.
...that I am not a referee.  Kids need to learn to fight their own battles and resolve their own problems.  
...that if I do what's right for my kids, I don't need to worry about everyone else's and their influence on mine.
...that the right thing to do is often the most difficult option.  (And the reason it is chosen so infrequently.)
...that most of the things I worry about never even happen.  And I can't get that time back.
...that if I keep my expectations low, I'm usually pleasantly surprised...or at least no worse for the wear.  (Just call me the eternal optimist.)
...that, some days, it's okay to let your seven year old fix corn dogs in the microwave for dinner.
...that each day is a fresh start.  Yesterday is over.  So I can stop thinking about it.
...that multiple times each day you'll consider in amazement that these little people whose lives you are helping to mold are a product of *you*.
...that consistency and follow-through are critical.  We cannot expect our kids to behave the way we want them to if we don't consistently expect the same things from them.
...that sometimes your toddler will swallow things she finds under the recliner before you can pry them out of her mouth.  And on those times you adopt the creedo, "That which does not kill her makes her stronger."
...that even after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day the sight of my sleeping babies heals all wounds.  And I wonder...is that how God feels about me when He watches me sleep?

I'm no Grandmother Willow, but I've come a long way from the over-confident twenty year old I was seven years ago.  I can only imagine what the next seven years will bring.  If I'm lucky enough, they'll be as precious as the past seven have been.  

Here's to many, many more years of moments - the good, the bad, the so-so, and most importantly, the ones we can walk away from having learned something.

Happy Belated Birthday, Ben.  I love you so.


Hawklady said...

Love it! especially this one "That even after a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day the sight of my sleeping babies heals all wounds. And I wonder...is that how God feels about me when He watches me sleep?"

Kat said...

What great insights Jennie - thanks for sharing, it's always a good reminder that is needed sometimes.

Dayle said...

We forgive them for everything when we watch them sleep. I just hope they do the same for imperfect mothers like me.

Debbie said...

I love this. Even though I was an old lady of 27 when I finally had my first, I have never have felt confident as a mother. I always think that I am scoring about a B- on a good day a flat failure on others.

I love what you wrote about sleeping children. I confess that I still feel the same and peek at my daughters, old enough now to be moms themselves, and think the same thing.

And I love what Dayle wrote about being forgiven for failing as a mom too. I need a lot of that.

Denise said...

Great post! I think most mom's question their mothering abilities most of the time. We do the best we know to do in any given circumstance. I agree that the right thing to do is often the most difficult. (especially when EVERYONE else is not doing it your way). Hang in there Jennie. You're a fabulous mom and from what I can see are doing a wonderful job raising your blessings!

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