July 16, 2016

Puzzle Pieces

Recently I was reading one of my mom devotionals and the writer said something so profound, so simple, it totally stuck with me! She was talking about different parenting styles and ways to baby rear, and how there is so much stuff out there about how to raise our children.  As moms, we want to make sure we are doing the absolute best thing for our children.  Some of us have no freaking clue on how to raise a baby, and maybe someone you know (ahem) may turn to books, online articles on Baby Center or even Facebook (gasp!) to learn how to raise the sweet little monster that may or may not be terrorizing your house at the minute.

Guys, I am talking about me, if you didn't get that ;)

Anyways, I love to read about raising kids.  I respect what other moms have tried and failed and perfected when it comes to their kids.  I am willing to try anything (well, mostly anything) to figure out how to raise my kid so he wont be an...well, I can't say that word here.    I want him to be healthy, happy, compassionate, love Jesus, well-rested, smart, considerate...you know, just a nice and normal person!

The writer in my devotional said that I have to look at my kids, my family, as a puzzle.  We all look different and have different qualities and angles, yet we all fit together perfectly because God gave us to each other.  We are a family.  We belong together.  We fit together, because God says so.  Dave, Tina, Ashley, Zachary = one beautiful puzzle.  That means, however, that my family and your family are a totally different puzzle.  None of our pieces look the same, therefore our puzzles will never look alike.  When it comes to figuring out life, it can be helpful to ask and learn from what other parents have done, but we have to take into consideration that our kids are all completely different beings.  I hear the "what works for me may not work for you..." all the time but more than that, child-rearing has all these milestones and rules that we feel we should all follow and fit into.  The result?  Well, I don't know about you, but all that ends up doing is make me feel like a bad mom when my child doesn't fit into that mold.  

That starts a deluge of the critic in my head..."You aren't doing this right," and "you aren't a good mom," and "Other kids do or don't do that," and all that nasty stuff that we hear and feel and sometimes even listen to. Being a mom in this world can be really tough. 

To breastfeed or bottle feed?  Wean at a year or at two?  To vaccinate or not?  To cry it out or not?  Are you going to homeschool?  Private school?  Which nursery school?  Your kid needs to do sports. Your kid needs a schedule. Your kid can't watch TV.  Your kid can't have this or not, and needs those, and won't be this without that.  So...many...choices! Most moms I know are in the same boat as me, we just don't KNOW yet...but there are other families we see or hear about who are so passionate about some of these things!!  It's not wrong to be passionate, not at all.  But it is wrong for me to think that what works for me and my kid must work for everyone else too.  I understand the "mommy wars" term now, because society can make us feel pressured to do something we may not know is right for us and our babies, or they tell us/make us feel that what we've been doing is the "wrong" way. 

When I read that line about the puzzle pieces, it helped alleviate the pressure I sometimes feel.  It doesn't matter what other moms are doing, or what the "experts" say.  They are doing or saying what works for them, or what works for the majority.  Zachary is my kid, I spend 24 hours a day with him (right now) and I know his needs best.  I am his momma!  He is part of the puzzle of my family, and he is teaching me very quickly that he will not fit into any standard this world has.   I spent the first few weeks after his 1st birthday feeling so stressed out.  He has to give up his bottle, I have to stop the formula even though he doesn't eat enough food, he has to be on a nap schedule, blah blah blah.   I wanted to scream because I wasn't doing anything right!

I realized that I wasn't thinking about my kid, really.  I was just thinking about some silly standard I have in my head.  A standard based off of a bunch of information that has nothing to do with him.  I know that we will conquer each step or milestone eventually, but it has to be right for Zachary.  Finally, with the help of Desperate, and a whole lot of prayer, I realized I need to stop trying to fit my kid into some puzzle that doesn't exist.  He fits into our puzzle perfectly, however we can make that work and keep him safe, healthy and happy.   

I know I'll probably never feel like I am doing everything right, but that's ok.  I am going to let Z guide me and teach me, and keep filtering everything through prayer.  Being a mom is scary, having to be in charge of this sweet, little life is a big responsibility.  When I strip away all the junk from my head, I see how lucky we are to even have this kid in the first place.  How is it so easy to forget that?   Our family has our own way unique way of living and growing and loving, and we are figuring it all out one step at a time, minute by minute.  That, my friends, is totally fine.  We are a puzzle, each piece belonging wholly and truly, just as God orchestrated.  Can I hear an amen?  

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