I, the Lord, explore the mind and test the heart, giving all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds. Jeremiah 17:10
I’d hazard a guess that the beginning of motherhood was the same for each one of us: Our first child trained us up to be the mom we needed to be. I, for one, worked hard to meet Zack’s needs, stretching myself in ways I hadn’t thought possible. But you do what you have to do. I did, and I thought I was good to go.
When my second child, Mason, came along, my confidence level was high. I knew exactly what to do to mother him. Oh how wrong I was!
Before kids, I’d heard mothers say they had different rules and expectations for each of their kids. I thought that was ridiculous, and unfair. I was going to hold all my kids to the same standards, and, out of fairness, be the same mom to each one of them.
It was a very rude awakening to learn I couldn’t put that into practice. What worked for Zack, keeping him motivated and moving forward, was too harsh for Mason’s sensitive soul. He’d end up on the floor in tears instead (no lie!).
However, I was exhausted. Zack was a crazy, busy toddler who liked to run and never look back. I had to keep tabs on him, all while taking care of a second child. I was sleep deprived and brain dead. I didn’t have the capacity to go through Mason’s Mommy-boot-camp to learn how I needed to change my style to suit his needs. So I forged ahead with my original approach.
Eventually, I had no choice but to wave the white flag and step it up. I had to create two differently parenting styles so I wouldn’t crush poor Mason’s soul. Likewise, I created a third style when Jocelyn came along. Even now I’m learning daily how to pivot and morph my approach with my three different kids as they grow and change, on what seems like a minute-to-minute basis.
This process has helped me understand Jeremiah 17 in ways I couldn’t before. Prior to kids, I thought God was judging us always, and if we did a good job, He gave us more good things. Now I realize He parents each one of us uniquely, only giving us what we can handle, for where we’re at. When we are ready to move forward, and only then, He gives us more. That waiting for us to be ready is His way of not overwhelming us, not putting too much on our shoulders so we buckle under the weight.
I wish I understood this way back then so I could have saved Mason and me a lot of trouble. I suppose I need to trust the fact that God knows best. Perhaps had He revealed too much to me too soon, I would have bent under the weight and not had three beautiful children, kids that are more than worth all the effort of being three different mothers to each of them.
Questions for Reflection:
* Do I try to parent all my kids the same way – having the same expectations for each one of them?
* Is it possible each child has different needs and capabilities, and I need to adjust my mothering accordingly?