Monday, May 5, 2014

The Difference Support Can Make

I am bad at saying "thank you".

Sometimes I feel like two tiny words is no match for the huge thing that I'm trying to express gratitude for. Sometimes I feel like the words alone are almost an insult because I feel so indebted to the gracious kindness shown to me and surely mere words can't express that.

So often I stay silent, hoping a brilliant way to say "thank you" that could somehow measure up and be worthy of the deed that strikes me. But today I really need to say something. So here is an attempt at a "thank you".

I have been very thankful this past year for the mentoring provided me by our new church.

Last winter I really felt like I was drowning in motherhood. It was a long winter, the two tots were driving me crazy, the housework was out of control, I just couldn't get a grip on organizing the life in front of me, and then I found out I was pregnant with #3. I was overwhelmed, and I felt completely alone.

In this time, we ended up changing churches. I won't go into all the details of this, but our marriage and family desperately needed this change, and I am so thankful that we had the courage to make it.

One of the things that I have so appreciated about this new church is their ministry to Preschool moms. Once a month, we gather for breakfast, fellowship, craft time (in which we learn a new craft to do with our kids later), discussion time, and a themed talk on some aspect of parenting young children.

This has been a life saver for me.

I remember going my first time last April (or March?). I was very silent, just soaking in the discussion and words of wisdom around me. Older moms shared wisdom from when their kids were little. They admitted that it was hard. They gave encouragement. They listed practical ideas. They inspired through stories. They promised looking back now that it was all worth it. They said things like "You can do this. You can be an amazing mom. You don't just have to survive. Look for more in these little years. Be intentional with your day-to-day mothering/teaching. These years are the investment years; drop character traits into the piggy bank that you want them to draw on later in life. They need you right now. You never get this time back." and so much more.

And even just the conversations with other moms over breakfast "You too? I thought I was the only one driven crazy by kids this week!" and "You dealt with this specific problem as well? What helped? What did you do to get through that phase?" and honest discussions- absolutely no judgement- with tips being given as far as what works for them and ideas they have come across for more effective teaching tools.

There is also a once a month Saturday night Young Couples get together. There is dinner, childcare, and then a themed talk from one of the older couples of the church- sharing insights and personal testimonies on different aspects of marriage and parenting.

The nuggets of wisdom that I have been getting from some of these older moms/parents seriously lit a fire under me like nothing before.

Before I felt like all older moms forgot how hard it was in these early years of parenting. That their kids were grown so they would just sit back and silently watch the younger moms struggle. But it turns out- they haven't forgotten. And with these ministries in place where sharing and mentoring can occur? Wow.

With these ministries an active part of my life this last year, I have felt supported, loved, and encouraged with this whole parenting thing.

It's just nice to hear things like "they won't always be preschool-aged" and confessions like "I didn't even like my son for his first 5 years because he was so challenging, but now he's such a delightful and awesome adult. I wish I had learned earlier how to accept him for exactly who he is- even if 'who he is' at times is challenging."

These last few weeks have been very challenging- especially with Carter Henry. Not to go into details (but imagine extremely stubborn little boy in the terrible twos with a flair for dramatic mess), and at times I have felt like we are not going to survive this stage. And is it a stage or will it last forever?

Last week we had a Young Couples night on parenting. That talk- pure gold for my depleted mothering  resources. I left with many ideas and ways to intentionally parent day-to-day in order to teach the gospel to my children.

And this morning we had another Preschool Moms breakfast (Cross Connections)- the last one of the year. And once again I left with my heart fueled with encouragement, my stomach happy from a yummy breakfast, and my energy-meter recharged while Carter ran out all his energy in nursery. I can do hard things. I can parent my two year old. I can teach him kindness and love. I can give him grace while teaching him boundaries. I can stay strong and patient. I don't have to do this on my own. I get daily parenting strength from someone much wiser and stronger than I. Even when Carter has destroyed his room, spilled and spread an entire bag of Costco rice in the kitchen, taken apart the heat vent in his room, played in the toilet,  behaviorally vomited, and tested every.single.thing I said to him that day- this is all part of the crazy but wonderful ride of being a mother. I can do this- one day at a time. And it will be worth it. All the teaching and working and loving- this is an investment I can't afford not to make.

I know I don't often put "churchy" things here on the blog. But today I just wanted to say "thank you" if any of you involved in this mentoring are reading this. Thank you for the support, love, and at times hand-holding through this rocky journey of motherhood. I  know that these ministries take a lot of work and planning, and I am so appreciative.

I don't know if the difference in attitude in my writing from last winter to now is noticeable, but I can feel the difference. I am living the difference. And most importantly- our family is living the difference.

Thank you.

Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

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