What do you mean there’s no Instruction Manual?

What do you mean there’s no Instruction Manual?

Remember beforeBefore you had kids of your own and you made mental notes about how you would never do this or that or the other? Yup. Me too.

Remember when you were pregnant and women (and men) of all ages came out of the woodwork to give you advice? Yup. Me too.

How’d that work out for you now that you’re knee deep in diapers, Goldfish crumbs, and whatever that sticky stuff is all over the remote control? Yup. Me too.

When I birthed my first baby with the help of a magical epidural actually enjoying and embracing every moment of labor (I say this now in hindsight, but in the action of it, let’s be real – it was not my most shining moment.), I thought, this is going to be so amazing. I sat awake most of the night high as a kite on adrenaline giddy with the rush of hormones purging through my body as I regulated. I thought of every single magical thing about parenting having already forgotten the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and labor (probably because the post-labor pain meds are GOOD!). I thought of how she’d sleep through the night before all the other babies, probably be a prodigy of some kind, be the most beautiful girl in school, everyone would love her as much as I do, and she’d go on to be something amazing like CEO of a company or head chef at a 5-star restaurant. Or, you know, whatever she chose, because #girlpower.

didn’t think about the fact that no one taught me how often to nurse or change a diaper or potty train, or deal with mean girls in 1st grade or 3rd grade, or talk about the birds and bees, or build her confidence or show her the love of Christ properly, or successfully maneuver the world of when you can and can’t have social media or a smart phone. Whew! There’s a lot of things you just don’t know about parenting. And guess what? There’s no instruction manual. I’m not kidding. Maybe you knew this, but I didn’t

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I wish I was kidding. I read all the books: pregnancy, newborns, toddlers, communicating with elementary kids, birds and the bees talks, all of them. I’m an educator. I have hundreds of hours in a classroom learning about child development and behavior and I still didn’t know if I was doing it right. You know what I think? That’s how you know you’re doing it right.

If about once a day you question your skills as a parent – you’re probably doing it right. 

Lesson 101 in teaching and learning is reflection on your skills. Look back at your lesson to make sure it is right and determine where you can improve and change. You’re doing it, Momma. Questioning yourself. Wondering if this is the right decision. It’s how you know.

Here are my three favorite things to remember when I question my skills as a parent:

  1. Did I pray about this? Maybe I didn’t have time to pray in the moment on a specific situation, but have I spent time in conversation with God enough to know His character so that I can make well-informed decisions and give wise advice to my kiddo?
  2. Was I real? Did I give an honest answer to a real question or problem that we faced together. If we are dealing with “mean girls” was I honest and kind? If we are trying to understand why reading everyday is important did I explain that it not only improves our skills but it shows discipline and practice.
  3. I am enough. I am the mom that God chose for this sweet child. It doesn’t matter if I birthed them, had a c-section, adopted, fostered, inherited. This child was given to me to raise because the Father knew that I needed him/her and they needed me.

Often I find myself repeating these things over and over like that mixtape I wore out in my childhood. What pushes you through the tough spots of parenting?

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