Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mothering isn't for quitters...

I think we all understand that there can be issues with training children to sit still in church. Some children pick up on it easily, while other children are prone to wiggle and squirm every waking minute - whether they're in church or out.

We are blessed with four children 8 and under. Our oldest generally does well in church, but our other three (just turned 6 year old, 3 year old, and soon to be 2 year old) still struggle with sitting still. We've tried various things, like bringing a bag just for them with coloring books, felt books, etc. but found that it just made a mess and was very distracting. We sometimes allow them to draw on a piece of paper, but in general we really try hard to have them sit quietly and listen, with only an occasional book to look at.

That's the goal anyway.

This last Sunday was rather interesting. My husband was very involved in both church services we had so he wasn't able to sit with me. I had planned on him being with me to help for the second service but he ended up being busy again. Being in my third trimester I'm quickly losing my lap to my swollen tummy, making it difficult to have my squirmy little one(s) sit on my lap.

When I saw my husband was going to be busy for the second church service as well I have to admit I fought back tears. I wanted to give in to self pity. I was tired, hungry, and touched out. All I wanted was to have my husband sit down and take over so I could go eat something and have a minute to myself.

I looked at my children, and decided that I'd better wrestle through my feelings. I've determined that it's better to smile at my children even when I don't really feel like it, because it helps me get to the point where I actually do want to smile at them. So out came the smile, an arm around my squirmy six year old, and I braced myself to hold my youngest on what's left of my lap!

You know what? I ended up admitting defeat. I left my oldest to listen to the church service and decided I'd better listen to my tummy grumbling and go eat a protein snack (I struggle with low blood sugar especially while pregnant so I have to eat a lot of snacks). I took my three youngest children with me downstairs and had them sit on chairs. A friend ended up coming down with her children, and between my children wanting to snack with me and seeing little friends down there also, all my child training fell apart right before my eyes. They didn't sit still at all and I really didn't have it in me to make them.

They had a privilege taken away (the two middle children, the youngest is still not old enough to comprehend) and I talked to them afterwards about the fact that they didn't sit still very well.

So why am I sharing this on my blog? Because life isn't perfect. We all have ideals and goals for mothering our children, but at times we have to admit defeat on some of these little areas and not give ourselves a complex over it. The experience at church has made me more determined to work at home on sitting still - no, I haven't given up on the hope that one day that will happen. Now I know full well that not every outing with our children will be perfect; some days we will (or at least I will) end the day in tears wondering how we can wake up the next day and do it all over again.

But we do, and we will.

By the grace of God that is.

Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute we make it through. The sticky fingers, the constant questions, the messes that never end, the temper tantrum we thought that child had outgrown - we endure and persevere. We have hope for a better thing. We see an end in sight for our child and as mothers we are determined to make it to that goal. Giving up and admitting defeat means terrible consequences for our children so it's just not an option.

If you are struggling through a difficult time mothering your children-don't give up! I have many, many areas I need to work on as a mother but I'm determined to keep going. God has richly blessed me with four (almost five) very unique children. I'm still in awe sometimes that I get to be the one responsible (with my husband of course!) of raising these children, of finding their hearts and keeping them close to me until it's time to let go.

Is it exhausting? Yes. Without a doubt. Sometimes so very exhausting.

Would I have started this mothering adventure if I had known what it was really going to be like?


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At November 29, 2011 at 8:27 AM , Anonymous Shawnele said...

Thank you for sharing this! Our family is the only "large" one in our congregation and when we struggle with the wiggles (as we did last Sunday) I am excruciatingly aware of the looks. Actually, that humbling (having imperfect children) is such a good thing. Only God is perfect; my family will always struggle!

At November 29, 2011 at 11:09 AM , Blogger Rachel said...

A real blessing to read this. I struggle getting my 5,3,1 year olds to sit in church. And I'm expecting my 4th next summer. Blessings to you!

At November 29, 2011 at 12:09 PM , Blogger Natmatmama said...

I am a children's pastor's wife. There are times that our children will sit in church with us as well. When my boys were a little younger, I can remember we were all sitting towards the front of the church. My youngest at the time, was about 4 and he was being very distracting. Wiggling and dropping the coloring book I had pulled out in desperation to try to distract him and keep him quiet. I have a rule that I count to three and they have until then to fix the undesirable behavior. I held up 1 finger...2 fingers...3 fingers! Only to look down and see him counting on his hands to 10 as if to mock me. My husband picked him up and as he was being carried out of the church, I heard him yell out...No! No! Don't spank me! Don't do it! There were chuckles and I was VERY humbled. It happens to all of us at one time. They are children, and there are none righteous, no not one. We just do our best and move on with life training our children with all diligence and love that parenting requires. :)

At November 29, 2011 at 12:19 PM , Blogger Amy said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's always nice to hear that other moms get worn out too =)

At November 29, 2011 at 12:25 PM , Blogger Becky said...

I bet in 10 years you won't have to worry one bit about taking any of these children out because of the wiggles. I've learned to loosen up, take the kids out (actually David, usually), let them run a little, have a snack. Who knows, maybe they will think church is enjoyable, instead of punishment. Our goal is still to sit still through church and most of out kids do. There are still some wiggles now and then, but they do get the picture. I've been the single mom in the pew while David was busy. NO FUN! Head straight for the basement and have a snack. You did the right thing! Sorry to talk so long. Just want to encourage you, they grow up so fast. Love, Becky

At November 29, 2011 at 4:12 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

We struggle with our son at EVERY service. But as he is getting older (he's 4 now) and as we continue attending and being consistent in our expectations of how he must behave in church, he is improving. We are in a small congregation and everyone has been very supportive of us since we moved here 2 1/2 yrs ago. In the beginning the were very vocal, offering support when they could see that we were frustrated and worried that he was interrupting/disrupting service. Now that he is improving we get a lot of "you guys are doing a wonderful job, I couldn't even hear him this morning" type comments (even from the preacher, occasionally). I remember once shortly after we moved here, we ran into a lady from church at the grocery store and she said, I think we go to church together, you have the little boy who talks. I was a little self-conscious after that, but she really wasn't being mean or judgemental, it is just her personality...and my son's. She is right, he almost never stops talking. So hang in there. Your kids will outgrow a lot of their wiggles. And eventually all of your kids will be sitting still in service and you will miss your wiggly monkeys :)
May God bless you in and for all you do.

At November 29, 2011 at 4:53 PM , Blogger WilxFamily said...

It is hard, and you are not alone! Thanks for posting this, as it reminds me I'm not alone either. My children are 8, 6, 5 and 10 months.

At November 29, 2011 at 5:08 PM , Blogger DannielleSB said...

I don't know how long your services are or how far away you live is but is it possible for you to leave and take your kids home and then return for your husband? Sitting thru 2 services is hard on ANYONE including adults.

At November 29, 2011 at 5:12 PM , Blogger DannielleSB said...

or if you even have two vehicles you both can drive on those Sundays where he has to be involved in two services or the possibility of two services.

I just think it's a lot to ask a pregnant mom w/small kids to sit thru two services. (I hope I didn't offend on that one... just trying to make a suggestion) And maybe this isn't the norm. I apologize if it isn't.

At November 29, 2011 at 5:27 PM , Blogger Caroline @ The Modest Mom said...

@ Dannielle,

We live about thirty minutes away from church so it's not practical to drive separate or leave. Many times our children do just fine, so I know they can do it! It's just a learning process. :) Thanks for your ideas though!

At November 29, 2011 at 5:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh how we both have so much in common in this post you spoke my words for me to be exact...I have a 7,3,2 and 8mth old and love them dearly and would never exchange me being a mother for anything else it is The most high calling....God has taught me so much through my children and continues to teach me more each day and I pray that God is not done with me yet and gives me many more children to come as I Love being a mom.

At November 29, 2011 at 6:33 PM , Anonymous Shannon said...

I am told every week that I make it all the way to the end of service that it is a joy to have little one's in church and that they are glad we are there. Children are not just a blessing to us as individuals but a blessing to the whole church.
Those of us with kids that have a good week try to go out of our way to put the parent with the struggling kids at ease, with reminders that we have our share of hard weeks.
It sure helps me to here this!
I truly feel sorry for those that give bad looks at other families, they need to rethink how Jesus would respond, I think Jesus would go out of his way to set the mother's at ease.

At November 30, 2011 at 10:47 AM , Anonymous Sharon U said...

Oh my heavens...I'm right there with you sister! And I only have one child so far. He just turned 2 in October and is not even still in his sleep.

My husband is the pastor of two churches. Right now we only attend one service. That is enough for this family right now. And we don't spend the majority of the service in the sanctuary. I feel guilty because I feel like I'm missing out on teaching my son the value of church. But then I feel guilty when those who are in the sanctuary with us can't focus on worshiping because of the 2 year old LOUD noises.

There is an answer out there somewhere. Just not sure what it is yet.

At December 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM , Blogger Lauren said...

Oh, oh, oh. This made me cry. Thank you so much for sharing a vulnerable moment, when you felt that your training crumbled in your little ones' behavior.

We have been going through such a hard season of life since the birth of our fourth child. Weeks and weeks of days of looking at my children and thinking to myself, "Whose child do you think you are? Why are you crying and wailing in the middle of the grocery store because I said no to donuts?" (Seriously. I had the crying child in the grocery store this week. Five and a half years and four kids, and this was my first time experiencing this.) Weeks and weeks of days that blur together into one seemingly endless counsel with one or more kids at once all day. One or two days of relative respite, tiny glimpses of fruit in their hearts and hands...and then back to pulling weeds.

Thank you for your encouraging words - such a blessing to me tonight.


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