Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Getting in the Easter spirit March 28, 2010

Filed under: Holidays — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:35 pm

Last spring I suddenly realized a few days after Palm Sunday that I had no game plan for Easter whatsoever… which annoyed me when I reflected that to followers of Jesus, Easter is every bit as important as Christmas (possibly more so).  Belatedly, I scrambled to figure how to buck culture, make a big deal out of the resurrection, and put the Jesus back in Easter.

This spring I’m a bit more on top of things.  I pulled out our kids’ Easter CD and sing along whenever I know the words. Last week we started reading one page per day in The First Easter over breakfast, discussing the events that lead up to Jesus’ death. Each evening after dinner we open one egg from the Resurrection Eggs kit, reading the corresponding passage in the Bible.  Some of the content is definitely over the heads of our 4- and 2-year olds, but they get some of it.   Today we focused on the donkey today during Palm Sunday, helped by the palm-branch donkey our Coptic neighbor made for the kids. (more…)


Mothering through the Panic Room phase March 26, 2010

Filed under: Blogging,Culture,For moms,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 2:34 pm

Today I am guest-posting over at Abundant Life in the Making, participating in a blog series Aimee is hosting called “The Imperfect Mamas Club.” I love Aimee’s idea and series (first post here) which aims, in her words, to “share the good and the bad, in order give balm to the hurt, to feel less alone, to accept the hard and savor the great.”  My post, “Mothering through the Panic Room phase,” also follows here.

We moved into a new neighborhood when our kids were nearly 3 and nearly 1. Our household was busy and we were encountering some significant parenting challenges…. but big picture, things still felt relatively manageable. Our new next-door neighbors, whose four children were 2 to 8 years old, were among the best parents my husband and I had ever met; we loved their kids and parenting style. My neighbor friend described the intensity of having four preschoolers. “My bedroom was like a ‘panic room,'” she told me. “When I felt like I was about to lose it, I’d go into my room, close the door, and scream into a pillow.”

At the time, I hadn’t hit that stage yet in my mothering. Now, with three kids under 5, I have. There are definitely days when I feel I could lose my mind at any moment.  Days when I can’t believe it’s only 11 AM and have eight more hours till bed-time. Days when I desperately wish I could be somewhere – anywhere – else.  Sometimes I find myself in a whole week of panic-room-style days. (more…)


Looking beyond developmental norms March 24, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Culture,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:03 pm

Last weekend I was talking to a wise Christian woman who, in addition to having three teenage daughters, has been teaching preschool for 13 years.  The change that she most noticed among parents over the past decades, she said, was their accepting behaviors as “just how it is for a 2-year old” (or 3-year old, etc).  “Children misbehave and parents stand there and shrug, smile, and say, ‘Oh well, she’s two.’ As if allowing the phase to pass is the only option.”

I thought this was interesting.  The biggest change she saw wasn’t in parents’ increased permissiveness – though she did say she saw this too – but in their psychologizing mindset.  All that talk about “what to expect from your two-year old” and the emails we all get from parent-center-sites have had an effect.  “This is how it goes at this age,” we’re all saying – and leaving it at that.  It’s typical for a two-year old to react against the word ‘no.’ It’s standard for a three-year old to have trouble sharing.  Phew, my kid’s normal.  Guess we’ll wait it out till it works its way out of his system. (more…)


Mom gets the brunt March 19, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Books,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 8:24 pm

“Children often show their worst side to their mothers.” I know this to be true, but I still found it immensely gratifying when I read the line in The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this month’s book club book. The author, a child psychologist/parenting teacher/mother, confirmed what ever mom knows implicitly: she sees her kid’s worst.

I remember showing my own mom my worst when I was a girl… and in all honesty, even sometimes now. She is the one person with whom I can safely “let it all hang out” and know that she will not hold it against me. She will continue to love me unconditionally and think I’m a worthwhile human being to have around, no matter how grumpy or sinfulI may be on a given day. I can alwaysrest in that, no matter what a jerk I may be to her (or at least in her presence).  It’s one of the biggest gifts a good, attentive mom gives her kids – her unflagging devotion regardless of moods and sin.  She’s safe.

And isn’t this as it should be? Mothers have been with their kids since the very beginning – literally.  We know our children most intimately – their character traits, joys, and struggles.  God, the psalmist tells us, knows when we “sit and when we rise… our going out and our lying down;” in the same way, we know these things about our children.  We are right there the whole time.  And in a way, our role is a God-like role to our children when they are young.  We get to participate with Him in their creation and birth.  And his ongoing and unconditional love of us is mirrored, in a smaller (and less perfect) way, in our own love for our kids.  What a privilege and responsibility.

It’s not fun being the person to whom your kid show her worst side. It’s discouraging when she behaves better for others – is an angel for her Sunday School teacher, a sweetheart with her grandparents, a pal with her neighbors, a mostly pleasant child even with her dad.  All this and then – a monster for me. Unbelievably poor behavior at times – I mean truly, one can’t believe it in some moments.  It can make me want to beat my head against a wall and feel that I’ve been dealt an unfair hand – especially when it’s a team-up or tag-team affair with siblings.  But that’s when I need to step back and remember who God is, and how eternal and unyielding his love is for me – even when I am acting like a monster in my own way.  Even when I throw my own mom-sized (and only slightly more subtle) tantrums.  It’s all rolled up in the privilege He gives us of loving and nurturing another being in the selfless way that He loves us.


Mothering well through changes March 17, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 2:13 am

One constant in the experience of a young mother is change. All moms deal with it, but the degree of change seems to accelerate with each new baby.  Our first three children were born in a timespan of less than four years-  a short period, though longer than many I know.  From our eldest’s birth to today, the ever-changing elements of daily life include: my waistline; clothing that fits me; clothing that fits each child; the kids’ diaper and toileting situations; kids’ sleeping modes (bassinette, crib, bed); carseats; feeding issues.  Not a complete list, of course – and one that entirely excludes intangibles like hormones, character development matters, correction techniques, etc. 

Even apart from the fact that the landscape is always changing, it’s a lot. With the continual changes and the need to stay on top of them, it can be overwhelming at times.

There’s a funny cycle that can happen when a big new change – the addition of a baby, say – happens.  There’s the Kickoff Season that accompanies the change – the hang-on-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth adjustment.  Then there’s a Smoother Patch once new rhythms are created and a sense of routine has resumed – the new normal.  Then, at least for me, there’s a funny jetlag effect that kicks in later – the Reality Catches-Up Phase. (more…)


Defiance: getting in the game March 12, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Books,Correction — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:00 am

Our sweet, delightful, blossoming two-year old is coming into her own in terms of knowing what she wants and demonstrating intense commitment toward getting it.  Her intensely stubborn streak is one thing I love her for, but the defiance it calls out prompts a dance that she and I go through together daily – sometimes many times a day.  The dance of will.

Yesterday I was reflecting on this comment made by James Dobson in the Strong-Willed Child:

“Many kids are able to win the contest of wills because they devote their primary effort to the game, while we grown-ups play only when we must.” 

Well said. So easy for us busy moms to get sucked into a thousand other things that keep us from “playing” with focus and intentionality – to the detriment of our child’s character development and our own sanity! Back then, as often as is needed, to consistency and timefulness in addressing defiance wherever it rears its head – a renewed commitment that I will not be outmatched in this game!


Lead them not into temptation… March 6, 2010

Filed under: Choices,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:39 am

One thing I’ve been pondering lately is being mindful of the temptations that our little ones are facing as they grow – in age and (we hope) in character.  Elizabeth Krueger talks about the importance of closely overseeing our children because, when they are very young, their temptation to sin when they’re not in our presence often exceeds their capacity to resist the temptation.  The watchful presence of a benevolent mother functions as a kind of starter conscience for a young child whose own fledgling conscience is not fully operational yet.

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.  A young child who feels an urge to whack her brother may well control that impulse if her mom is standing right there, and she knows that her mom will not approve of this urge (and is apt to make this very clear her).  If her mom is not standing there, the urge may get the better of her and she may well act on the base instinct. This reality explains, in large part, why children who are not closely attended by adults behave much more poorly than when they are closely attended.  Their temptations to misbehave exceed the reach of their current character development, and thus they yield to the temptations to sin.  (more…)