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Reflections from a Mom

Ever notice how much of being a mom is out of your control?

Take conception.
The world will tell you to “’plan your family”—as if children were a nuisance that must be scheduled into your life,
“That you shouldn’t have too many children”—what’s too many, especially when God tells us children are a blessing from Him?
There are couples trying to have children and couples trying not to have children—all of it out of their control, but not God’s.

Take pregnancy.
There are so many tests now that are done to “make sure the baby is developing properly”—what can you do if he’s not?
So much out of our control. 

Take birth.
The world has gotten use to “scheduling” births for the convenience of the doctor’s or parents’ schedule. 
(Most “emergency” c-sections occur between 8am and 5 pm. If they were true emergencies, they would be spread out through the night too.)
Scheduling the birth fits into their schedule. They are in control.
Normal births are completely out of our control.

Take sleep.
What’s that? For a newborn and the mom. 
Often it shows how a newborn disrupts everyone’s sleep.
You can’t even sleep when you are exhausted.
And so the world adds a schedule, pushing the baby to sleep through the night. So you can.

Take feeding.
The world has scheduled that too.  
You control how much that baby eats. Every two hours, then four hours, then work so it’s fewer and fewer, especially for those night hours.
But God made moms to breast feed. Sometimes the baby just wants a drink, and sucks differently. 
Other times he’s on a growth spurt and drinks all the time. As if God made him to know.
And once again, you do not control.

Take teething.
Wish teething could be fast-paced and finished, instead of constant drooling, slobbering, and pain for weeks before one little tooth appears. And repeat for the entire mouthful.
One dentist told me, the pain of teething would be excruciating. 
It is bone cutting through skin, after all. Little at a time might be all we could bear.
Out of your control.

Take colic.
Some babies have it all the time. Others seem to miss it.
It certainly isn’t the parents’ choice that their child has it.
It’s not like you “cause” their pain. 
Yet you are helpless to relieve it.
It’s beyond your control.

And we haven’t even gotten out of the baby stage.
The world has a way to deal with it.
To put it back in your control, so you don’t feel so helpless.
But God designed motherhood so you would feel helpless.
Why? 
Read on.

Take the toddler years.
Your toddler wants to put on his own shoes.
You must leave for an appointment.
The world says, “Let them.” 
Of course, you must plan ahead to allow for delays, but sometimes your two year old cannot control your schedule.
They can’t control everything.
It’s also a reminder you can’t always control the actions or attitudes of a two year old.
In fact, it’s hard to control your own actions at this point.
But God says, “discipline a child, when he is old he won’t depart from it.”
Though you enforce the actions, you feel out of control to reach his heart.

It’s one thing to dictate to a toddler that they will eat oatmeal for breakfast.
They seek to control you by taking a bite then asking for ice cream.
You show who is in charge by making sure the oatmeal is eaten before or if they get ice cream. 
(I didn’t use food to enforce my will, unless I sensed they were manipulating me for certain foods. I merely use eating oatmeal as an example.)
You demonstrate you are in charge.
And so you must.
But inside, you are praying he eats his oatmeal.
What can you do if he doesn’t?
Force it down his throat? Of course not.
He must choose to obey.
Yet you can make sure oatmeal is the only thing he gets until he obeys, or starves. 
(Does a toddler have enough will to starve himself rather than not eat oatmeal?— Or whatever you have drawn the line for him to obey.) 

The world doesn’t have an answer for this.
Why must you usurp your will over your child? 
Doesn’t he have a right to his own desires?
And so the world states the child can dictate to you (the parent) what he does and leaves the parent wringing his hands, hoping the child will listen.

But God has given parents the authority to discipline.
You do have a right and an obligation to make your child obey.
You stand in God's place to show your child what is right.
You are a visible representation of God to your child. (Talk about impossible!)
I remember praying very hard that my son would choose to obey.
Because though you are delegated by God as his parent whose will they are to obey, you cannot make them obey. 
You can only encourage them to choose to obey or suffer consequences—and God helps you decide those consequences!
Again we see as a mom, the toddler years brings you to a point of  uncontrol.

This is also when many moms choose to go to work.
It is too hard to stay at home! Who wants to fight with a toddler—And lose?
Work brings rewards, visible and material.
Staying at home brings—frustration and a lot of rewardless work.
Is it worth it?
This isn't where you see the answer.
But the world would say, "yes." You have a career. Or at least a tangible paycheck.
Or stay at home and struggle with a 2 year old! 
What kind of choice is that?

This is also where you will see the world say, "two kids are enough."
Because two are enough to see how much we are out of control in teaching and molding them.
But when we follow God's directives to "fill the earth", we soon see how much we need God to help us do what He's told us to do.

Take school.
If you’ve homeschooled, you’ve done it to “control” what your child is taught.
You select what they learn. You screen what they watch.
But you can’t always control what they see. 
Learning isn’t in a vacuum.
You must take them to Walmart sometime!
And what do they see in October?
Witches, demons, and all kinds of evil.
Some control is necessary.
I avoided those Halloween aisles.

With my boys, we went swimming at Hume Lake but early in the morning.
They swam in the icy mountain water, then we left when others who were not modestly dressed arrived.
I changed my shopping route to avoid billboards that revealed too much and promoted harmful things.
What I could control, I would, especially from outside influences.
That is a biblical mandate for all parents.
Teach your children what is true, right, pure,...
Did I feel overwhelmed? Yes!
Did I feel like I couldn't do it? Every year, throughout the year!
Remember God shows us we can't, so that we learn to depend on Him.
And you do the next step.

In public schools, this is where the world is obvious in their methods.
They quickly tell parents, “You don’t know what your child needs.”
Parents concede. 
And the world teaches what they view is important—including values and beliefs (or lack of them).
Wonder how this generation got so bad? 
It’s no surprise.
Your children were raised by someone else. 
It’s out of your control.

Take teenage years.
Now their decisions may not reflect all the years you have poured into their lives, because they are their decisions, not yours.
And these decisions are more weighty than whether they eat oatmeal or frosted flakes for breakfast.
They effect career choices and spouses that bring scars and pain if chosen without values and prayer.
These years a parent feels very much out of control.

What are you going to do, spank them when they disobey?
One son, when he was causing grief, was spanked as a teenager—mostly because I had to spank the younger son for the same action.
He just laughed at me.
Talk about being out of control.

Take driving.
Driving becomes an exercise, not just for the child who has the permit, but the parent who is totally under the control of the child with a steering wheel between his hands.
You can’t slam on the brakes when he barely misses a car or turns in front of an ongoing car.
You are out of control.

Fifty hours of driving with an adult is a long time to impress on the parent that you don’t control this child in everything.
Fifty hours of driving with an adult is not long enough for that child to become an experience, good driver—that’s why car insurance is so high for boys, at least until they are 25 or married. (Ask me, I know.)
Lots of time for you to feel out of control.
And that’s the time they want to drive a motorcycle, or a semi….Out-of-control for you.

You see, being a parent, you learn that being in control is not what God wants from you.
Giving Him control is what He wants.

As we release control of each stage of your child’s life to Him, we see God directing more clearly, God working through the details to bring the desired outcome, God strengthening us to be the parent our child needs.

Parenting is a constant letting go—not letting go for the child to direct, but a letting go to allow God to work.
By the time your child is an adult, you find another stage where you aren't in control. 
As a mom, your job is to prepare your child not to need you. But you must back out and allow him.

That total lack of control over your children comes with great heart breaking—we like to control our own lives. We want to control our children's.
But God makes it easier, by reminding us that He has not let them go.
He’s still in control.
And even more in control than we ever were.

It always seems that the stage that we are in is the hardest.
Maybe all those steps prepares for harder challenges.
After doing everything for our children, we come to a stage where they must do so much for us.
Our health fades, our mental capacities doesn't allow change, we need help, it seems, with everything.
I've seen the adage, "Old age is not for wimps."
Because to acknowledge needing help with even bodily functions is humiliating.
God's whittling away at our pride of "I can do it." So we can acknowledge "He must do it."
But God is there too.

A mom’s job is really acknowledging she can’t, but allowing God to work. 
To give God control, so God can show Himself.
As we acknowledge how very much we are not in control—over all those stages of child raising, we find God is enough and has the right answer.
But it is so hard. Why?
We like control.
We like to control our children, our lives, our husbands.
The world will tempt us to do it the easy way, with short-cuts, so that we can feel in control.
But that feeling is a deception. We know deep down, we aren't strong enough. We aren't in control.
Or we deceive ourselves into thinking that "we can control our destiny."
What's the other choice?
As we raise our children God's way, we feel so inadequate. And so we are.
We feel helpless.
Which drives us to God.
That’s where God wants us.
Because we can do nothing but ask for His help.
We trust His control.
And He is there.


When did you feel most out of control in raising your children? Did coming to an end of yourself bring you to look to God? How did He answer?
 

I think the teen years were when I felt most out of control of our family life. There was just so much going on, not just the home schooling but also the hormones, the kids wanting more from life (when we were rather isolated), dealing with the different personalities within the family, it could go on and on. So often I felt like a failure, but God was faithful in bringing each one of the kids to Him and that's more important than any of my mistakes. Now with them all married and with families, there are too many of them to control in any way at all, so I must give them all to Jesus who alone can touch their lives. Thank you for sharing, Sonya, always enjoy your articles.

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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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