My very first bible was given to me by a friend of 9 years. He was running downhill towards me from our high school parking lot. We were sixteen. He asked if I had one and I didn’t, so he handed me a brand new, paperback, bible. After that I was gifted two more bibles, one from my youth leader and the other from my soon-to-be-husband. Then I purchased a bible for women when I was 20 or so and I received a marriage bible that year as well. None of the newer ones seemed to make an impact on my life in the way that I had hoped. I’m not exactly sure when, but sometime after my first daughter was born, I purchased a bible for Mothers. I was 22 (I believe) and was so excited to get started but I rarely opened it. Finally, two years later, I decided I was going to commit to my “quiet time” and read my bible for at least 5 minutes a day.
Now that I have started using this version, I think there’s a reason I had put it off so long. I don’t think I would have fully understood every part of the “motherhood” notes in it because I was a new mom and everything was so fresh to me. THIS is the bible that has given me the push I needed, the help I wanted. 11 weeks ago I had my second daughter and the notes in my bible about motherhood are SO incredibly helpful during this season.
With my previous bibles I kept little post it stickers in it to stay organized so I decided to do it again. My pink tabs are for the things I “needed to hear” that day or for the things I love. The blue is for things I find to be “super” important. The yellow is for things I have a hard time with and the green is for questions that I have. The purple is for things I’d like to write about to share with other people, that one is new.
Over the years I’ve also realized that Prisma Colored Pencils work THE best on the thin bible pages to jot down things or highlight.. whatever you may need to do!
For the past couple of weeks I have been in a funk and I haven’t read my bible. It’s easy for me to open my Instagram daily but my bible.. not so much. I know its Satan keeping me from God and I can’t let him win that battle. I need to make it to 5 minutes a day so I can progress from there. Today I opened it up and (I kid you not, every time I do, God reveals something beautiful to me) the most perfect page of advice was there. It was called “Better Moms, Better World” and had 5 highlighted paragraphs of essentials to become a better mom, thanks to MOPS International. “When you grow in these areas, you are a better mom with growing influence on your family, community and world. You are a better mom who makes a better world.”
Self-Care: While it sounds crazy, it’s often easy to forget that you were a woman before you were a mother. Self-care isn’t selfish; taking care of yourself strengthens and equips you to mother well.
This part was given a yellow tab. I have such a hard time with caring for myself.
If I shower, I feel better… but some days I just don’t have the energy to stand long enough. This is especially true with my second daughter. We both constantly smell of milk, sweat and spit up but the few minutes that we spend clean, fresh from bathing… we are relaxed and peaceful.
If I put mascara on, I feel better. But MOST days, I’d rather use that time to get out the door quicker.
If I comb my hair, I feel better. But I just don’t have the patience or energy to do that either.
Whether its feeling bad for doing these things, being too tired to do them, or too short on time.. it does take its toll on me after a while. They may seem small but, in the long run, they aren’t.
If I don’t feel good about myself or take care of myself, I’m not showing my daughters that taking care of yourself is important. It’s healthy. This also goes along with eating and drinking well. I have more energy to tackle the day if I eat a decent meal rather than nothing at all
or snack… all. day. long.
I was really bad at this with my first born, but this time around I have tried harder and have been able to keep my weight constant. Eating and drinking “right” plays a HUGE roll in mothering well and self-care. Especially if you are breastfeeding!
Once I had my baby I dreadingly got my teeth cleaned, my hair cut, painted my toe nails, got contacts! (Still getting used to that one, I get so nervous putting them in and taking them out)
All of these things took time and I couldn’t watch my girls. I was anxious about it all and felt bad during each session but now that it’s all over and done with… I feel better!
Mothering Skills: The detail part of being a better mom includes a lot of practical topics. Your mothering community, along with expert advice, can help you with this. Your own mothering instincts grow over time, and as you observe what works or doesn’t work for your own children, you’ll be able to better anticipate and respond to every situation.
This whole paragraph was quickly filled with circles and lines and highlighted areas. (The preview photo above was obviously taken before that) All of this is SO true and so powerful. With my first daughter I was so scared about everything and I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to teach her everything I could and I wanted to do everything right. Which lead to my blog subtitle “Letting go of perfection to grasp what really matters”
Over time, I became the mother I was meant to be. I’m still learning and growing as the days pass but I’m much more calm with the process. I was so anxious to be a good mom that I was letting it consume my emotions. I read about what other moms were doing or what the doctor was telling me to do and I thought I HAD to do all of those things as well. Turns out, I was wrong. My daughter and I soon found our own rhythm and things couldn’t have been better. We got into a schedule without even trying or forcing it and all was well. It may not have been text book perfect, but it worked for us.
Something HUGE that I thought I had to do (because of our doctor) was put my baby in a crib and let her “cry it out” if she woke up during the night. Doing this made me so uncomfortable that I cried each time she cried and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. She wanted to be with us but the doctor said she needed to sleep alone peacefully in order to have proper brain development. My husband would pick her up, rock her back to sleep and put her down but she would immediately wake up and cry all over again. Meanwhile he was also trying to get me to calm down. I told myself it was safer for her to be in her crib physically and mentally, which was true to an extent. As a newborn I feel more at ease keeping them in their crib because they’re so delicate and we’re too exhausted to have the right mindset. It’s too risky to chance rolling over on the newborn, accidentally covering them… you name it. After 6 months of keeping my first daughter in her crib, I wanted nothing more than my daughter sleeping next to me! Feeling her breathe and listening to her sleep kept me calm. I no longer wanted to let her “cry it out” because it just didn’t feel right. She needed to feel loved. I know she’s safe next to me rather than in a room across the hall or alone in her crib. One night when she was was a little over a year old, she started vomitting in her sleep and I instantly heard the gurgles and picked her up because she couldn’t get herself to sit up. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if she would have been in another room. Would I have heard her? Would I have dismissed it? Could she have choked? So many things ran through my mind.
My daughter is now two and she still sleeps with us. She likes to cuddle and hold onto us through out the night. When she wakes up in the morning she smiles at me and says “Hi , Mama.” and my heart sings. I know this may not be for every family, but it works for us. My second daughter made it to day 30 in her bassinet and then she’s slept next to me every night since. I put her about 12 inches away from my face and even in her swaddle she figured out how to inch her way towards me and doesn’t stop until her forehead reaches mine. Once we touch, she instantly falls asleep. This is where we’re meant to be! My daughters are teaching me how to love them the way they need to be loved. If advice from someone doesn’t fit my beliefs or the doctor doesn’t agree with the way I do things, it’s not the end of the world. (Safety first, of course.)
If you’d like to read more about co-sleeping click here
If you’d like to read more about “crying it out” or self settling, click here
After reading those articles (that I linked) nearly two years after my first daughter was born, my mama instinct was confirmed. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be quick to dismiss that feeling.
Relationships: Being part of a community strengthens you as a mom. Connections with moms in the same season of life and those ahead of you in mothering provide a supportive network.
Thanks to The Little Gym and IG, I have been able to connect with moms who have kiddos as old as mine and it has been such a neat experience! Being able to talk to someone who is going through similar things as you, is pretty calming. It helps you to feel normal!
Marriage and Family: If you’re married, that relationship definitely changes throughout your seasons of parenthood. Consider ways to strengthen the relationship with your husband to provide emotional stability for your family. If you aren’t married, realize that your community is even more important and enlist support from the dad of your children, your sister, your mom, aunt, or a close friend.
My relationship with my husband definitely changed as we had kids. It’s hard not to get angry and scream at each other when there are two, crying, frustrated babies in your face. But as time goes on, you learn to just look at each other and laugh.
Faith: God created you as a woman and a mom. Having a spiritual foundation in your life provides perspective, hope and strength both for yourself and for you to pass on to your children. On the days you are barely holding on as a mother, God is with you. And on the days when you are amazed at the beauty of your children, God is with you too. You’re the best mom for your children, and your experiences and learning as a mom are making you a better mom, who is making a better world through your influence in your home and community.
The words I bolded out, hit me like a rock. How wonderful is our God? Always keep in mind that you are never alone. High or low, you are never alone.