Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oh, My Poor Firstborn Child

As I have spent the past few weeks home with all of my children, I have had some self-reflection and realization of my parenting skills.  It is something I think God has been revealing to me about my heart and my children.  I have actually gone through a phase of regret and mourning, you could say.

I am realizing how many regrets I have about my parenting skills with Leah her first few year's of life.  I look back now and wish I had been a lot more patient.  I wish I would have relaxed more about so many things.  I mean, I realize how much I was concerned with my own agenda when she was younger.  I sometimes think I wasn't ready to have a child yet, when she arrived.  I was young and unprepared...completely!  I never even read 1 book about child-rearing.  Didn't even think about it.  Obviously, no mom ever knows what to expect with her first child, but I felt completely unready.  I never really liked kids growing up.  I rarely gave my name out to babysit.  I didn't really interact with kid's much when I was older.  I had my own agenda, a selfish, prideful one.  No time for kids.  In fact, I always said I wasn't having kids...ever.  No desire too, I guess.  Well, along came Leah.  My vivacious, lively, social, smarter than her own good, witty, energized, curly red-head little girl!  A child who I chose to give up time with to focus on building my business more.  A child who I got disgusted with when she made a mess that I had to clean up and interrupted my 'work.'  A child who I rarely allowed to get dirty because it got in the way of my time.  A child who I would get so angry with when she refused to nap (I must add she was not a great napper, and still isn't) so that I could workout.  A child who I would allow to ruin my whole day when she woke up early and cut into my workout schedule and triathlon or running training.  A child who I loved with my whole heart and soul, yet would get so upset with, about every little thing.

These are the questions I constantly ask myself:

Why couldn't I have seen my selfishness?  
Why couldn't I have realized that not getting a workout in everyday wasn't going to ruin my race day performance?  
Why couldn't I have realized that a messy house was 'okay?'  
Why couldn't I have realized that I had plenty of time to focus on my 'work', someday? 
Why couldn't I have realized that I only had one chance to shape her in her young years?
Why couldn't I have realized I was creating all kinds of insecurities within her by getting angry with her every mishap?

I could go on and on with the questions and regrets that have been swirling in my head.  But instead I have been praying for grace...lots and lots of grace.  (Actually that has been my prayer A LOT lately, with all 3 kids, haha!)

Still today, sometimes that girl can just get under my skin.  And sometimes she dumbfounds me daily with her wit, observations and questions I have no answer for.  She loves and NEEDS to be around people, constantly.  She is not a cookie cutter kid, she questions everything, refuses to be content with a vague answer, digs deeper, is determined to perfect everything, and has an old soul.  She has a lively spirit within her that is contagious to everyone around her. She is a spirited child, and no self-help book can define the best way to handle her.

But most recently, this is what I've discovered.  We bump heads on the things she makes me feel weak in, have no answer for, feel insecure about.  And in ways that we are EXACTLY. ALIKE.  I have realized I cannot handle being humbled daily by the things Leah does that are most like me.  That is a lot to swallow.  To constantly be shown my weaknesses, my insecurities, and my fears--day in and day out. 

You see, I am realizing it is not my child I am having such a hard time with.  It is what she represents in my own life, my own weaknesses, that I can't handle.  God uses our children to humble us, and boooooy, lately my heart is being worked on. You see, I just feel like I am enjoying Autum and Blake so much more than I ever did Leah.  I rarely worry about the mess, get aggravated with their faults, or let an interruption of my own selfish desires make or break my day.  I just feel so much more relaxed and comfortable this time around.  And that is what is getting me, I feel like I have shorted Leah on experiencing the more fun, relaxed 'me.'  Not the uptight, frustrated, self-agenda focused me.  I guess that is part of being the oldest child, he or she becomes the guinea pig, the child you learn from before the next child comes along.  Maybe that's why we have the same issues, I'm the oldest child as well.

But like I said before, I am praying for lots of lots of grace.  And telling Leah that Mommy needs Jesus just as much as she does when she is naughty.  And that I am thankful for His continuous mercy and forgiveness.  That we are all being molded and shaped, and humbled into His image.  Constantly.  So I am hoping she and I can work through this together, and that she is as resilient in this area of her life as she is in everything else.  And someday will forgive me. 

In the meantime, I'm working to forgive myself.  And attempting to make up for lost time.

Photo courtesy of Megan Hein


  1. Oh boy, I have those same exact feelings about my oldest. I bet most people do. I think of how frustrated I would get when she wouldn't nap, I would let her "cry it out" because I thought that's what she needed, and now if one of my littlest is struggling to nap they get some extra cuddles. That's just a small example. Ugh. So many regrets. But, like yours, my oldest is still young enough that we have plenty of opportunities to make up for it and treasure them today.
    Thanks for the reminder!!! I feel ya!

  2. Thanks for sharing! Definitely feelings I can relate with and beat myself up for. A viscoius cycle. Appreciate helping put things in perspective.

  3. Thanks for sharing! Definitely feelings I can relate with and beat myself up for. A viscoius cycle. Appreciate helping put things in perspective.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Definitely feelings I can relate with and beat myself up for. A viscoius cycle. Appreciate helping put things in perspective.

  5. I have the same feelings about my oldest. We were young and uptight and going 90 miles an hour. We took him everywhere including business conferences. Our last child(13 years later) was a totally different story. By this time we realized that children did not break and need dirt in their diet. We have traveled very little with this one, so I almost feel guilty about this. However, my last sounds exactly like your first in personality. Had he been our first we probably would have had NO more. He questions everything and just like your daughter does not settle for a vague answer. I, like you have realized these are the qualities he gets from me and this is why we buck heads. It does not help that at 9 years old he is taller than me( I am 5'0").He also is my most compassionate child and will cry himself to sleep if something happened during the day that he feels was unjust. Prayer works wonders and there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are now doing a daily Bible study(5 minutes daily) together and we are both growing closer to God. Praying you find the peace you are searching for!

  6. I can totally relate! But you probably already know that :). I do feel myself loosening up more and more and it feels good not to be driven crazy by your kids, but enjoying what God's given us instead.