A message to moms, “Don’t lose that.”

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There is so much hype and attention right now on the choices mothers are making or not making, and I have so many thoughts I want to share.  But I can’t share them fast enough to get it all across before some women somewhere jumps the gun and slams a door in my face because I hit a HOT button in her mental library of things you just DON’T say.  I just want to be me, and I’m a very personal person and very open about life with anyone who wants to share. Right now, I want to share an important message for moms based on my own experiences about a perspective that is lacking where I live and do ministry.

Ready?

Simply put, DADS ARE PARENTS TOO. And I don’t mean that they occasionally change diapers and babysit when you need a break.  A father is just as essential in your child’s education and nurturing as you are, and there are two common problems that need to be repaired.  The first is that father’s are NOT participating as much as they need too. The second is that we mothers often don’t let them. 

Let’s talk about the former first.  This is an article I pulled off the web about the hidden benefits of being involved as a father that give the physical and psychological perspective on fatherhood: The Hidden Benefits of Being Involved.  A fantastic biblical source of information and encouragement for further study is the recent movie Courageous. But don’t stop there!  Go deeper and find out more about WHY a father should also be changing the diapers, doing bottle feedings, watching the kids for AN ENTIRE DAY, cooking maybe? and demonstrating love and respect for his wife in front of his children.

Ok, now for the second problem.  Honestly and truly, how much thought do you, as a mom, put in to opening doors for your husband to take more responsibility with the children?  If yours is anything like mine, he’ll stay out of a lot of it unless I ask for help.  Fortunately, we had some very serious discussions before having children in which my husband expressed his STRONG desire to co-parent with me.  What we have now is something I call duo-parenting where we both mentally and physically share our parental responsibilities completely, each compensating for what the other needs on any given day, and each putting preference on the others need for quality and nurturing time with our children.  Moms and wives, it’s not easy, especially if your man isn’t interested in doing it with you and if we don’t let them.  But people can change, right?

This lifestyle requires a lot of team work and a lot of communication.  Nathanael wanted to be as involved with the children as I was, and then he HAD to be because of their health issues at birth.  I couldn’t be super mom 24 hours a day so he had to learn how to mother them while I slept.  It’s not as crazy as you think.  We have to learn how to “father them” too when hubby works 60 hours a week.  The reality is that a child NEEDS both attitudes, both personalities and both people each and every day, and when one person has to be gone the other has to compensate.  Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to compensate QUITE so much all the time?  To give our “mommy brains” and the attached ears a little more time off a little more often?

An aside: When reading up on my son’s hyperacusis (super, super sensitive hearing) I discovered that sleep deprivation, constant stress and physical trauma can cause hyperacusis, which in turn heightens stress levels and blood pressure due to the increased sensitivity to sound.  Sounds like motherhood from pregnancy onward!

God did not design women to be the ONLY parent any more than he designed a man to be, but we are AWESOME teammates.  Here are four essentials to get you started:

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1).  Find a couple of days out of the week/month during which you (mom) leave the house and leave your children with their daddy for the WHOLE day.  If you can do it a few times a week, even better, because you could use the time and HE will need regular practice if this hasn’t been a usual thing in your home. Even if all I get to do is go grocery shopping by myself, I have a chance to breath, listen to a good audio book I can’t when the kids are around and maybe grab a cup of coffee!  I’ve also found that I LOVE the hugs and kisses I get when I come home, and the ooos and aaahhs of presenting the children with fresh strawberries.  There is something REALLY relaxing about running errands when you’re not worried about hungry children who’ve been sitting in a car for hours and need to get home for a nap.

2). Figure our your duo-parenting teamwork groove. Nathan and I chat pretty regularly about our children, everything from what they ate that day to what they’re learning, what they need to learn, and what areas they need discipline in. All of these things are important to help the other parent be able to jump in at a moments notice and help or take over. For example, we’ll talk about my son’s behavior and agree on the top 3 to 4 behaviors which need to be nipped in the bud and not ignored. We’ve been doing this since he was 6 months old and consequently Samuel learns really fast what is ok and what’s not when mommy and daddy are both catching the same things consistently.  The less formal these discussions can get the better! Run-of-the-mill chat is MUCH less stressful than a long meeting, and then you’ve saved those hours of precious alone time for yourselves 😉

3).  Put your awesome multi-tasking skills to the test and find time for both you and your spouse to go to school.  Every parent has something to teach their children, even if it’s only how to draw an amazing dinosaur. If you homeschool, get both parents involved in teaching regularly!  If you use an online school or local option make sure that you and your husband spend time with the kids on their homework as well as extra-curricular activities.  That way you both know what’s happening in school and how your child is doing, you’ll both feel a sense of responsibility for their education, which will help in all kinds of family decisions.

4).  YOU.  Being a good mother is not about having all the meals ready, fantastically behaved children or a clean house.  I believe that those things do matter, but not at the expense of who YOU are, your own mental and emotional health and your own enrichment.  We can’t be good mothers if we’re not good people, good women.  How much have you thought about pursuing the unique and special interests that you spent time doing before having children?  Not long after my husband and I got married, I was sitting outside a coffee shop studying Ancient Near Eastern History when an old friend of mine, and a mother, approached me.  We’d talked a few minutes before, inside, and got caught up on our news at which time I got to meet her son!  As they were walking out to her car she stopped and said, “I used to do those things before.  Don’t lose that, ok?” And that’s my message to you as well.

No matter what, don’t lose what makes you you. It’s why your husband fell in love with you, it’s why your children love you and it’s what will make them want to get to know you as they grow older.  Bon Voyage!

photo courtesy of cottontradelink.com

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