Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We've come a long way, baby

I've told you before that I've struggled with anxiety since the twins were born.

Well, actually, if I took the time to really reflect on it, I probably have my whole life, but it's definitely heightened now.

I saw a counselor for awhile over the winter about it, and one of her famous lines to me was "you can't believe everything you think."

Amen to that.

A good portion of my daily anxiety has decreased, thanks to prayer and working on mindfulness. I no longer think every sneeze is the bird flu. I no longer suffer from insomnia.

But, there is one area I still find myself struggling with...the awesome burden of parenthood.

I am - at all times- acutely aware of the fact that I am responsible for molding people. That my actions and words and body language will help (or harm) how my children will view the world. How they view themselves.

Parenting is a HUGE responsibility.

And while I personally believe any mother worth her salt takes the job seriously, I tend to lean towards possibly taking it too seriously.

You see, I can't seem to stop allowing my mind to play it's continual, accusing track of "is this the moment my children will refer to 17 years from now when they are sitting on Oprah's replacement's couch and saying 'well, I can pretty much trace my life of violence and crime back to this time when I was 14 months old, and my mom didn't drop everything -even though she was trying to make us dinner after spending all afternoon playing with us- to hold me the minute I fussed. I can pinpoint it to then...that's when I lost my ability to trust and started fending for myself...'"


I know.

But it's a nagging question that haunts me constantly. And if I'm honest, it can be crippling. It's WAY too much pressure.

I've read too much. I've read way too many books and articles on parenting and child psychology that I am literally too aware of how much damage I can do, and how easily it can (supposedly) be done.

Some days, it's not so bad. We hit our stride right out of the gate, and the day goes smoothly on all counts. Those days I tend to let myself think I've got a handle on this mothering thing.

But then other days...not so much. And those are the days I tend to spend entirely too much time analyzing why our day (or our dinner, or bathtime, or naptime, or whatever) went the way it did.

I was stressing (and over thinking) something the other night and lamenting to David how surprised I am at the amount of times in a day when I second guess my instincts while mothering. In fact, sometimes I can't hone into my instincts at all. (You know, the instincts I clung to during infertility that I swore were dead on and would make me the best mother ever) This led to a discussion as to why I thought that might be, to which I finally answered "I guess...I often don't let myself believe...I don't trust...that we are all going to be ok."

David looked thoughtful for a moment, and then posed "define 'ok'."

Now it was my turn to be thoughtful. I sat in silence for a bit, and finally came up with "to where we all get to live a long life together, where you and I get to see Luke and Abbey grow well into adulthood. That our marriage stands the test of time. That our children's marriages stand the test of time. That in the end we've managed to turn out two functioning members of society, who know how to be good spouses and good parents themselves. That we show our children Jesus, and that they chose to live for Him. That we always have "enough" money. That we are all spared chronic - or God forbid, terminal- illness for the majority of our lives... " and on and on I went.

And even as I was listing it all, I knew. I have no guarantees for any of that.

I am realizing that what it boils down to is a lack of faith. Faith that my Savior has a perfect plan. Faith that even though we will have trouble (individually and corporately), God will overcome, and use it for good. Faith that God knew what He was doing when He blessed me with this role. Faith that He loves my children more than I ever could. Faith that He really will lead and guide me if I allow Him to. Faith that He is ultimately in charge and any control I feel I have is nothing but an illusion.

It's not all on my shoulders.

This morning I had my quiet time while the twins napped, and I put on a CD of worship music my sister made for me when we first came home from the hospital. It's filled with soft praise songs, meant to serve as an aide to help me relax during a time of extreme stress. I listened to it a lot in those early days.

I left it on in the background as Abbey and Luke got up, and watched as they danced in their highchairs while they happily ate their snack.

And in that moment, I was able to reflect on how far we've come. A little over a year ago, while that CD played in the background of our days, chaos and tenseness ruled our home. Tears (mine more than the babies) were aplenty. I was beyond overwhelmed and unable to imagine it would ever get better.

And yet, now, just over a year later - a year that has not been without illness, stress, arguments, disappointments, misunderstanding, financial worries, or frustration - we are in a much better place than I could have ever pictured.

We've come along way in a year. And while I don't know if I'll ever claim to have this mothering thing down...we're doing ok so far.


Vanessa's Dad said...

It's very clear to me that God has your back, Kendra. You'll be more than OK.


Julia said...

Kendra, this is lovely!

I, too, struggle with the awesome responsibility that comes with parenting, and molding two people, whose personalities shine more and more each day.

I pray every day that God will give me the wisdom to make the right choices.

I love that you juxtaposed listening to your CD this year vs. last year. Look how much YOU'VE grown. In reading your blog over the past year, it's so evident how much God has grown you, Kendra.


Our Family said...

Oh, Kendra, I love the quote: "you can't believe everything you think!" That is exactly what I need to hear as I continue to settle into life with a newborn again. My emotions this time around have been so much higher than with my first DD. I thank you for your transparency on this issue. Hope you and the little ones are having a great start to the summer. :) Lana

Emily said...

Thanks for sharing, Kendra!! It was sooooo good chatting with you yesterday! I can't even tell you how good. Praying for peace for your heart today.

Design from the Heart said...

HI Kendra,

I completely understand how you feel. I have three babies who are not babies anymore, 7,10 and (oh my) 13 :) but one book that REALLY helped me as a mama and a Christian was "The Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. I don't read a lot of her stuff but this one book nailed this subject on the head!

Hope this helps . . .


Aunt Carol said...

I love your dad's comment. Right on.

Linda Lee Brown Ayers said...

Oh if each child could just come with their individual instruction manual!!! So much of parenting is figuring out what works as you go along.

If you reflect on our household "time out" rules, you may or may not recall that what worked for one did not work for another. For some isolation on the stairs was the answer; for another it was being able to SEE what was going on but not participating until the clock dinged; for another it was "go to your room come out when you are happy".

Luke and Abbey may be twins, but they are different children who happened to be born at nearly the same moment.

No matter how horrible or wonderful a "stage" is, it will be gone before you know it...and they will be off to something else.

If you spend too much time pre-analysing the situation, you may miss some of the funny things going on around you. They may not seem funny at the moment; however, in your old age (like me) you will chuckle.

You are doing a fantastic time. You sound like you have the typical first-time parent worries TIMES TWO!!!

I love you,

Kaycee said...

Any Mom who tells you she has this mothering thing down? She's either lying or she doesn't realize it's all about to change. Every time I think I have a handle on the routine, what works - what doesn't - how to handle everything, my daughter changes. This growing up stuff is hard work too, and they are always processing what's around them. One of my favorite quotes ever on mothering is: "I did the best I knew how. And when I knew better, I did better." It helps me remember that mistakes will happen, I will make choices I regret, but I need to learn from them - and do better. Never perfect, never done, never all knowing. The best I can now, and keep learning to do better.

Sarah said...

Faith is a journey, not a destination. And there is nothing like having a child to strengthen your faith in the only one who matters-Christ.
I am going to pray for you about this this week...because I too, have walked in those shoes. Sometimes I find myself pulling them out again when I start playing the comparison game with other moms.
Kendra, God gave you those two BEAUTIFUL babies because HE knew that YOU would be the best mommy for them. Isn't that amazing??? You, Kendra, were chosen to show love to these children God created. You don't need any book to tell you how to raise a child. Be a reflection of Christ, and you will be doing great!

Guy and Julie said...

Hey girl,
I'm catching up on a little blog reading--have been way behind, so I'm just now reading this. I needed to read this--TODAY. I cracked up at your description of sitting on Oprah's couch--ha! I tend to make it that melodramatic too. I've been really struggling lately, and I needed some encouragement. Thanks!