Thursday, March 20, 2014

Birthdays


We just celebrated two birthdays in our house.  My baby girl just turned one year old last week and my youngest son just turned three the day before that.

Birthdays are kind of a big deal in our house.  We let the birthday child choose their meals all day long.  They often get to choose an activity to do as a family or have a birthday party.  We do cake and ice cream and presents.  The cake is their favorite part, I think (I could be wrong, but they sure get excited about it), because I always make a fun cake that has to do with something they are into right then.  My three-year-old's cake was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake of his favorite turtle--Michelangelo.

But my kids' birthdays are very special to me.  They are close to my heart in a way that is different than they are for anyone else, even my husband.

Whenever one of my kids has a birthday, I reflect back on the actual day of their birth.

I remember how the labor began, what I was doing when it started.

I remember what the birth was like and what it was like when my baby was first placed in my arms.

All of the emotions I had at that time come flooding back, only they come flooding back as bittersweet because that time is gone and done.  Bitter because I will not be experiencing the anticipation of the birth of my own children ever again nor feel the high of delivering that baby and seeing him or her for the first time in my arms.  Sweet because I look back on those times very fondly, as the births of each of my six children were such beautiful, sweet, spiritual moments in my life.

And with each birthday, I think to myself, "It's been one year (or two years, or five years, or ten years) since I was in that hospital room in labor having that baby" and I remember that day and those feelings I had.

My children's birthdays may be exciting days for them, but they are such sweet, sweet days for me.






Now, let's see if you can guess which baby is which?  10 points if you get them all right!  (They are in no sort of order, and let's be blunt--the first picture is quite obvious who it is--the hair!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Raise Your Child the Way You See Fit

I get so tired of reading, day after day, all of the parenting advice that is out there.

Of course, often we seek the advice.  My baby sleeps sometimes and sometimes she doesn't.  She eats well some days and other days she doesn't.  So obviously, I try to find answers, or at least something I can do to help her lest I feel helpless.

However,  I feel overwhelmed by all the advice.  I get that we need to pick and choose what we think will work for our own families.  Still, that is rather difficult to do, and sometimes we still can't figure it out.  But if we try to heed all of the advice we read and hear, we will go crazy.

I recently read this about the "cry-it-out" method.  Granted, it is a few years old, but it came out right about the time that my fifth child was born and contributed greatly to my mom guilt, even though I had let my older four children cry at times.  The thing is, these articles tend to not distinguish between the truly damaging crying (orphans in filthy orphanages overseas who are left to cry for hours and hours because there is not enough help to care for them) and crying that helps keep the sanity of a mother going crazy (having to take care of kids who are 18 months apart when they are young, sometimes you had to let one cry to meet the needs of the other). They also don't seem to take into consideration the generations and generations of capable people who turned out just fine despite being left to cry it out at babies. Honestly, this kind of article makes me crazy. Of course, that is because I am guilty of letting my babies cry but more than that, I feel that my children were not damaged by it.

Besides that, a lot of the parenting advice given today is very child-centered.  The article referenced above states

A government pamphlet from the time recommended that "mothering meant holding the baby quietly, in tranquility-inducing positions" and that "the mother should stop immediately if her arms feel tired" because "the baby is never to inconvenience the adult."  Babies older than six months "should be taught to sit silently in the crib; otherwise, he might need to be constantly watched and entertained by the mother, a serious waste of time." (See Blum, 2002.)

Now, I'm not saying this government pamphlet had excellent advice, but I also don't believe that a child will be damaged because her mother puts her down when her arms are tired and because she is no longer in her mother's arms, she cries.  I really don't think that will damage a child.  If her mother threw her down or slapped her in the process, that would be damaging.  If her mother never held her, claiming she was too tired, that would be damaging.  I feel that whole notion is very child-centered.

Yes, I believe that good parents sacrifice a lot to be good parents, but I also don't think they should sacrifice everything and let the child rule their life.

I also believe that a lot of the advice given today does not necessarily lend itself to raising the quality of human being I want to raise.  I believe in things like good old-fashioned work, making kids wait for things, sometimes telling them words like no and never, making them walk places (walk!  can you imagine?), letting them fail (crazy, I know!), and letting them solve their own problems.

Parents, your job is to provide food and shelter and security for your children.  There are many avenues to get there.  Seek advice, but don't try to do everything.  And remember, if you are trying and you are doing what you think is best for your family, don't let the naysayers make you feel inadequate.  You are not inadequate to raise the child that was given to you.  You are just the person that child needs to have as his or her parent.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Every Little Moment

There are so many blog articles and stories written about how we must treasure every moment of our child's fleeting childhood.  They will be grown someday.  We will miss this.  We will yearn for this.  Make sure you treasure every moment so completely because it will be gone before you know it.

I love my babies.  All six of them. I have loved every phase they have been in and hated every phase they have been in.  I have lay there at night thinking how eager I was for this phase to be over and at the same time, feeling sad because the phase would be over soon.

I read these blogs and feel bad because I do not love a lot of my baby's babyhood.  I hate changing diapers.  It seems every time I get going on something and am really deep into it, be it cleaning, cooking, fixing something, writing, reading, whatever, my baby needs another diaper change.  Or she starts to cry.  If I sit there doing nothing with the expectation she'll have one of these moments, then of course, she doesn't.  I don't love the sleepless nights (I am more exhausted than I have ever been with this sixth one--and she was the most terrific sleeper of them all from three months to eight months) and I don't love the teething.  I hate the rear-facing carseat (she screams the entire time she is in the car, every time, because she can't see me).

I have felt guilty because I'm not enjoying every little moment.

But today I had a realization.


To put my 2-year-old down for a nap, someone has to lie down with him until he falls asleep.  In the bed with him.  He will not nap any other way.  He falls asleep at night without this, but for naps, it's the only way.  As I lay there waiting for him to doze off soundly, I watched him fall asleep.  I memorized his face--the way his red hair flopped over his forehead, the way his eyelashes softly fluttered, his perfectly puckered little lips, his adorably kissable cheeks--and I realized that I do this kind of thing all. the. time.

I spend time every day taking in my babies' faces and memorizing what they look like at this age.

I do this with my ten-year-old.  I do this with my ten-month-old.  So maybe, just maybe, after all, despite the nightly moment when I wish my baby wouldn't be a baby anymore so she would sleep all night, I am enjoying their babyhood and childhood.

But maybe I just don't have to enjoy every little moment.



Book Review: The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother






This book has been an enjoyable read for me.  I love to read about parenting.  I was eager to read this book to find out exactly what constitutes "Chinese parenting".  I had a vague idea in my mind, having grown up in an area where there were many Asian students.  I don't know how my Asian friends were raised, having never even been in any of their homes, but I'm certain, based on how they fared academically and musically, that it was probably similar to Amy Chua's description.

Much of the book resonated well with me.  I want my kids to be successful and high-achievers.  I want them to learn music and keep up with their studies.  I want them to be obedient and well-disciplined and polite.  I agree with some of her philosophies, in that I believe that parents should be respected and that children should grow up to take care of their parents.  I believe in being strict about many things too, that some of the pleasures our children indulge in these days are not necessary and many should be avoided.

I can agree that Western parents tend to coddle their children too much.  They don't allow for a lot of personal growth; they don't have very high expectations and don't expect much follow-through.  They come to the aide of their children far too quickly.  That I can agree with.

However, I didn't like some of her methods.  I guess that's the Western parent in me since was raised by Western parents.  I don't believe that her methods will necessarily result in adults who are confident enough to choose their own path.  She doesn't want them to choose their path.  That sounds a bit like Satan to me.  "My way or the highway", right?

I think there is probably a way to blend the best of both worlds.  Perhaps parenting with high expectations in addition to remembering Jesus Christ and following his example.  I think there would be less yelling and more loving.  I'd like to find a way to parent like that.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Doing More Good

I apologize for my long absence.  After having my daughter, I've been struggling with the adjustment to six kids, especially with one of them being a baby who constantly needs to be held. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and my contribution to the world.  Certainly my six children are a contribution and I'm trying my best to raise them well. But I don't think I am doing all the good that I can do.  I have too  many distractions that keep me from fully being the person that I want to be.

I recently read several biographies of women from the mid-1800's.  They were mothers of many children; one had sixteen!  In addition to being mothers, they were involved in their communities.  One of them opened her home to travelers; another helped with feeding and clothing the poor and needy.  The reason I read these biographies was because they were posted as notable people of history for the city in which I live.  Of the sixteen people that were honored on a wall at the city offices, three of them were women from that time period. 

I have read much about women in history and how women were oppressed and not valued, etc.  Today's women celebrate how much has changed for us--how we are able to do so many things that women in earlier times were not allowed to do.  Almost all of these changes have been positive, but some of the fallout effects of these changes have not been.

Women in earlier times were typically "confined" to the home.  They weren't allowed to work outside the home or vote or be public figures.  Yet these women that were honored on this wall still did much good even without these opportunities.  In fact, I'd like to argue that they did more good than most women who are in high career positions and in the public eye do today. 

As I was reading these biographies, I was thinking about how I have all these freedoms and opportunities, yet I waste much time doing things that are not productive nor contribute much to my community or society.  Yes, I am raising my kids, but I also waste a lot of time watching TV, puttering around on the Internet (reading articles, posting comments, connecting through Facebook).  I think that these women had to work so hard just to keep their tables from being bare and their homes clean and kept up that they didn't have time for all the nonsense we have time for today. 

This got  me thinking about how I need to improve.  We have so many modern conveniences that make our lives easier.  We also invest our time in so many busy activities (carting kids around is something women then did not do--the kids worked alongside them and also had time to run free and play without supervision--another thing I could talk a whole lot more about another time).  These activities aren't inherently bad, but are they really making our lives better? 

After reading these biographies, I really felt like I needed to focus more on teaching my kids worthwhile things--like cooking skills and learning how to garden (I really don't know how) with them by my side.  I need to write that book I've been wanting to write for a couple of decades now.  I need to put more time and work into my community, most likely through PTA because helping at school is something I'm comfortable with and know how to do.  I need to spend less time puttering around and more time serving and helping others and teaching my kids to do the same. 

I need to do more good.  I see many women doing good, but I wonder, with all the progress we've made, are women doing more good today than they were when their opportunities were more limited?  In some ways, it doesn't seem like we are.  I want to be a woman who really makes a contribution to the world.

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Struggle

My daughter was born last week on March 14th, which is why I haven't posted anything in more than a week.


With every baby, I have struggled to breastfeed.  I am a perfectionist.  I am an avid reader.  I know all the facts about how nutritious breastfeeding is and how it's so good for both baby and mom.  I know it's supposed to be the best way to feed your baby.

But I hate it.


It's painful.  It's stressful.  It gives me anxiety.  I worry about how much they're getting because they seem to always be hungry.  It takes all my effort and energy.  I don't have time to eat or sleep or even use the restroom.  I'm in such terrible pain that I can't stand having my other kids within two feet of me.  I'm a grouch and I hate my life. 

Yet because I'm a perfectionist, I feel like a massive failure if I don't breastfeed.

My baby is one week and one day old.  On day five, I was a total wreck.  I was experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage.  The breastfeeding was not going well.  I was in terrible pain.  I had to go back to the hospital and spent the day in the ER, trying to nurse my baby with an i.v. in the crook of my elbow.  It was complete misery.  In between feedings, which only lasts about forty-five minutes to an hour, I was pumping because the engorgement was so painful.

After sobbing to my husband for about an hour that night, in the middle of the night, I decided that I just can't do it.  It's too hard.

So now I'm pumping every few feedings and giving formula when there isn't breastmilk to give.  My milk supply is diminishing.  I am going to bottlefeed and my baby is only one week old.  I feel like a bad mom.

But at the same time, I feel relief.  I am not as stressed out.  I am not dealing with massive anxiety and panic attacks.  I am in less pain.  I even feel somewhat happy.

I wish I could find a way to bottlefeed without feeling guilty, without feeling like a bad mom, without feeling like others are judging me.  I did try.  Probably not as hard as I should have.  Probably not as hard as others do.  But I had to weigh the pros and cons. 

I want to enjoy my baby, not loathe her.  She will be okay.  I have bottle fed five other babies after trying breastfeeding for various lengths of time, from two weeks to four months, and they have all turned out healthy and smart.  I know it's not the end of the world.

Yet somehow, it feels like it is in some ways. 

This is my struggle. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Believe in Christ

I Believe in Christ is one of my favorite hymns.  I love the music and I especially love the words.  The hymn embodies my testimony of Jesus Christ as my Savior and Redeemer.  There are many more hymns and primary songs that do this, but this is one of my favorites.

I believe in Christ; he is my King!  With all my heart to him I'll sing;
I'll raise my voice in praise and joy, In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God's Son.  On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised. Good works were his; his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; oh, blessed name!  As Mary's Son he came to reign
'Mid mortal men, his earthly kin, To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path, Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: "Come, follow me, That ye, my friends, with God may be."

I believe in Christ--my Lord, my God!  My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I'll worship him with all my might; He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.  From Satan's grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love In his eternal courts above.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!  From him I'll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."
I believe in Christ; so come what may, With him I'll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again To rule among the sons of men.
--Bruce R. McConkie, 1972





I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love how everything fits together so neatly, how Christ's atoning sacrifice satisfies both the laws of justice and mercy. Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to return to live with Heavenly Father some day and to live with our family eternally.  What a beautiful concept and a beautiful plan!

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