Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 2

{Read Part 1 here.}

Here’s the thing.

Biblically, I know that we live in a broken world.

I believe that in a perfect world, every person would be able to fully care for as many children as they could biologically produce.

In a perfect world there would be no pain or sickness, no conditions that require intense times of special care (of children or parents), unlimited energy, time, emotional resources, finances, mental resources, food, and help.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  Sin and Satan have conspired to break everything good.

In light of the fact that God does not condemn birth control, and that we live in a broken world where sometimes people are too sick or exhausted or poor to care for another child, I still don’t believe it’s an easy decision.

To me, it’s choosing the better of two bad options, the only options given us on this sin-shattered planet.

One is to disallow the life of another human being in order to steward the resources God has provided us for those children He’s already given.

The other is to have more children, realizing that it may be difficult to adequately care for them (financially, emotionally, or in some other way).

Yet I have to know that God sees our hearts, and that we can be blameless if our hearts are right before Him.  Do we seek Him?  Do we have His heart toward children?  Do we view them as a blessing or a curse (both those we have and those we might conceive)?  Do we have children, or not, according to His directive?  Are we willing to do whatever He asks us to do, whether it’s to have more children or not?

These are questions and thoughts I struggle with.  I wish there were an easy answer, a solution at the snap of our fingers.  But there’s not.  It comes back to our relationship with the Author of life.

And seeking God brings peace.  Following Him brings peace.  Obedience brings peace.

In peace, we can rest.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 1

I don’t have a Mentor Monday post today.  Instead, I’m going to share about a topic I have wrestled with for many years, and the fruit of those years of study, thought, and prayer.

“Should we have another baby?” 

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of conversations with other women about family size.  It’s a decision that is supposed to be easy to make in our culture, but usually it’s not.  When my friends share their hearts about this topic, I so appreciate their transparency and boy can I identify.

I grew up in a large family and loved it.  I have always wanted a large family.  And now I have one.  No regrets.

I know some Christians don’t struggle with the idea of family size at all.  They view it as a decision for them to make, they make it, and they don’t think twice about it.

Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum, like the Duggar family, who don’t believe in limiting family size at all.

I believe the Biblical view falls somewhere in the middle.

I believe what God says when He tells us that children are an unqualified blessing.

Any child conceived is an eternal soul, made in the image of God.  I think we forget this sometimes in our cavalier attitude toward not having them.

I don’t believe that it’s ever a mistake to have another child.  Children are not a mistake.  They are precious to God and should be to us also.

I realize that, according to Jeremiah, God knows our children BEFORE they are conceived.  I have always had a great fear (respectful fear, not terror) of not having a child God has planned for me.

Our desire should be to have God’s heart toward children—He views them as a blessing, a reward, a gift, He loves them and He calls children to come to Him.

The Bible doesn’t address the issue of birth control at all.  And yes, it existed in Bible times, albeit not in the sophisticated forms we have today.  Scriptures used by “quiverfull” advocates are twisted and pulled out of context, proof-texts turned around to support their view.  God does not forbid limiting family size.

I respect the decision of any couple to have as many children as they desire, including the decision to forego all ways to limit or space children.  I believe that if God leads a family in this way, He will also provide for them sufficiently.

I believe that if a couple chooses to limit their family size, they should choose a way of doing so that does not threaten the life of a child they might inadvertently conceive.  Some common methods of birth control are potentially abortifacent.

I know that a lot of people claim that they can’t afford more children when in reality they don’t want to do without luxuries.

I have talked to many, many older people who wish they had had more children.

I have never talked to a parent of many who regrets any of the children they have.

I believe that most people pray more about whether to get married, change jobs, move, or buy a new puppy than about whether to conceive another child, another eternal soul made in God’s image.

But there’s a caveat.

{Read Part 2 here}

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

A Pause on the Path

Deep Roots at Home

New Life Steward

*For those who have linkies in which I participated this morning…I am having difficulty linking back.  Please be patient, I do want to link to you!*


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Welcome to Reviving Motherhood!

The MOB Society, a great blog for mothers of boys, is hosting their second annual boy mom blog hop, and this year I am participating.

So MOB Society readers, welcome to Reviving Motherhood!

I’m Stephanie.  I have two sons—9 and 1 ½ (and three daughters too.)

I’m joyfully married, and I’m a homeschool grad who now homeschools my own 5.

I LOVE to learn from wise older women who have successfully raised great kids, and to pass that knowledge on to others.  I want to be just like them when I grow up!  I just started Mentor Mondays on my blog, where I publish guest posts and quotes from godly older women we younger ladies can learn from.

You might enjoy this week’s Mentor Mondays post, 4 Ways to Raise Your Children With Honesty and Good Communication, by my friend Debbie Wilson from Marriage Matters Now. 

Debbie says this: “The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex.”  Read the whole post for her wise words about raising kids!

Another passion is fearless mothering.  It can feel like there are so many things for moms to fear!  As a young mom, God helped me to overcome persistent, crippling fear and learn to walk in faith and freedom.

In fact, I’m now writing an e-book about fearless mothering (especially appropriate for those of us with wild and crazy boys, yes?) that should be available for purchase this fall.  I’ll be giving away lots of copies, so watch this space!  Feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to get updates.

The theme of this year’s blog hop is games. My boys’ favorite games differ because of their age differences.  I have found that old-fashioned fun still trumps everything else.  My older one loves sports and whooping me at checkers, and the baby loves balls, blocks, and music.

I’m so proud of my sons, and I love being a boy mom, as well as a girl mom.

New here?  Here are a few more links to get you started.

For pregnant moms and moms of babies, check out what I’ve written on babies and birth.  These categories include posts about preparing for birth, breastfeeding, nurturing your tiny ones, and my favorite baby products.

Thinking about homeschooling?  Start here.

I bet I am not the only mom who has food sensitivities in the house.  Here’s a favorite summer recipe for dairy free ice cream.

Thanks for visiting, friends!  Please come back and see me again!

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Again, please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!


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When You Are Exhausted

When I became a mom, I was more prepared than some women, but one thing no one warned me about were the days of total, complete, unbelievable exhaustion.  Even the best little sleeper has nights of sickness or teething that leaves mama wondering if she can put one foot in front of the other.  One those days a nap is ideal, but sometimes not possible.  Here are a few tips to make it through exhaustion a little more gracefully.

Breath prayers.  Forget sentence prayers.  “Jesus help” is sufficient. He hears.

Take care of you.  If there is a day for fave jeans and a cute shirt, this is the one!  It takes 30 seconds to get dressed!  Throw up a simple hairdo and some 5 minute makeup.  Eat a healthy breakfast.  You will still be tired, but you will feel better.

Do the next thing.  My sister wrote a great post about this here.  It’s SO tempting to fall apart and veg on the couch all day.  Be gentle with yourself, but do just one thing at a time that needs to be done.  It’s OK if it’s done imperfectly.  Just take tiny one baby step at a time.

Speak softly.  I am sure I am not the only one, but when I am beyond exhausted I also tend to be short tempered.  I {try to} remind myself to lower my voice and speak very softly on those days.  For whatever reason, that extra measure of self-control helps me to treat my family with respect.  It is not their fault that I’m tired.  Do I fail?  Oh yes indeed I do!  But speaking softly helps.

Lower your expectations.  I would love to serve gourmet meals and have a spotless home and perfectly prepared, delightful lessons for my children each day.  On the most exhausted days, it’s important to realize that things will not reach the ideal.  Save the ideal for a better day.  (Scratch that, perfectionism kills, just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and do your best!)  If simple supper and the 3 R’s are the best you can do today, it will be OK.  I promise.

Use the TV.  Yep, I said it.  Don’t suffer mommy guilt if you use the TV as a babysitter on those extra weary days.  Make sure the content is educational or at least wholesome and get yourself a nap!


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Advice I’m Glad I Took as a New Mom

I started having babies young; I was just 21 when I got pregnant with my oldest.  I’d never given any thought to a philosophy of mothering.  I had taken care of younger siblings and I had babysat a lot, I knew I would breastfeed and be a stay-at-home mom, but beyond that I was pretty clueless about pregnancy, birth, and mothering.

Early in my pregnancy I was surprised by a call from an old family friend, a mom of 8.  She had simply called to encourage me, and she probably still doesn’t know how that simple call changed the course of my mothering career, simply because she had brought things up that I had never thought about.

She showed me that I needed to be intentional in how I handled pregnancy and birth.  She encouraged me to be nurturing and responsive to my new little baby.  Here are a few things she shared that I’m so glad I put into practice as a new mom:

Eat healthfully and exercise during pregnancy.  Now I know that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and clean proteins with limited sugar is best.

Prepare for birth by practicing conscious relaxation.  Go limp, like a rag doll.  Practice this till you can maintain this state of relaxation for a long period of time.  She sent me a book on the Bradley method of childbirth, which in my opinion is the best way to approach natural birth—or any birth, for that matter.

Shoot for as little intervention in birth as possible.  My friend had all home births.  I was having a hospital birth, and she reminded me that Jesus was in the hospital too.  I needed to have a clear idea of what I did and did not want and be willing to stand up for those things, within reason.  I wrote a birth plan to clarify these wishes to my doctor and hospital staff.

Breastfeed right away.  Follow baby’s cues and feed her as often as she wanted to eat.  Don’t use a pacifier.  Breastfeed for at least 2 years, while baby’s brain was growing the most.

Hold and snuggle baby and respond to her cries.  This is a baby’s only method of communication.  Cuddle and comfort her.  Holding and loving on her would not spoil her!  God designed babies to need many hours of touch and snuggles each day, and he designed mamas to meet that need!

Sleep with baby.  Co-sleeping did not work for us, but it was a relief to know that it was OK to bring baby to bed if I needed to.

These principles helped me establish a solid, nurturing relationship with my baby that carried us through some tough times later.  I’m so thankful for an older mom who was willing to pass her wisdom on to me!  It saved me untold grief!

Did you have an older woman who guided you through pregnancy and the days of new motherhood?  What did you learn from your mentor?


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Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper, Ergo Baby Carrier, and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste: My 3 Fave Baby Products!

I’m pretty minimal when it comes to baby supplies, but after going around the baby block 5 times, here are several products I have found to be well worth the investment.

Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper

I know co-sleeping can be done safely, but it has never worked for us. I’ll admit, this littlest wiggle worm spends more time in the bed with me than not, but it’s not my preference.  On the other hand, I nurse my babies during the night for quite a while, so I like them close.  The Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper has provided the best of both worlds.

It straps nicely to the side of the bed (strap runs between the mattress and box spring in a simple but effective design) and has a bassinet layer for when baby is tiny and immobile, which you remove once baby gets bigger.  It is so nice to not have to climb out of bed multiple times a night, to be able to reach over and put my hand on the little one while he sleeps, and just to feel like I can keep a close eye on him, all the while having our own space in the grown-up bed.  (Theoretically, ha!)

Pricey–but well worth it!

Ergo Baby Carrier

I tried several different slings and baby carrier, and the Ergo wins hands down.  Every other one I used pulled on my back and shoulders so much that I had to quit.  The Ergo distributes weight over your hips instead, making for a very comfortable and practical carrier, even as baby grows heavier.

The benefits of babywearing are untold for bonding between mom and baby.  I like to have my little babies in a carrier because it discourages random strangers from touching, kissing, or scooping them up without my permission.  (It amazes me that people feel free to do this.)  The Ergo has also saved me many, many times when baby needed to be close but I also needed to have my hands free.  It’s a pretty sweet feeling to be doing dishes or laundry with a warm baby asleep on my back!

The one downside for me is that I’m too uncoordinated to put baby in by myself.  For the front carry I have to have someone snap the buckle in the back, and for the back carry I have to have the kids help me.  I’m not sure how anyone would get a baby in the back carry position on their own—but apparently it can be done.  It would probably help if I had watched the how-to video that comes with the carrier.

I will add that I have only used the Ergo once my babies got a little bigger.  There is an additional infant insert for very tiny babies that I have heard good things about, but I don’t have any experience with it personally.

Again–this costs a pretty penny, and my frugal self rarely shells out this much for an item I’ll use for a short time–but the Ergo is worth every penny!

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste

I don’t know if this is available in all parts of the country, but you can get it from Amazon.  This magical diaper rash cream beats any other one I’ve tried, and it even smells fairly pleasant.  There is nothing worse than to have a red-bottomed baby screaming in pain, and Boudreaux’s has come to the rescue lots of times.

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So those are my favorite 3 items for baby!

What about you?  What baby products would you hate to live without?

For more baby encouragement, check out my Babies and Birth categories!


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How to Get a Shower With a New Baby

One of the most common complaints from new moms is that they can’t seem to find a way to get a shower with a new baby.  (Truthfully, I find it a lot harder to get a shower with a mischievous toddler!)  I think it is so important to find little minutes to take care of ourselves, even when we are busy with little ones.  With a new baby, here’s what works for me.  I just put baby in his car seat or bouncy seat and take him in the bathroom with me.  I can keep an eye on him (and save him from over-loving siblings), and my babies have all loved the sound of running water.  Usually they are quiet.  But if they do cry…I am a huge proponent of responsive mothering and I don’ t let my little babies cry.  I pick them up and snuggle them.  But really and truly, it won’t kill your baby to cry for the few minutes it takes to get a super quick shower.  Then throw on some clothes and pick him up!  Mama is clean and baby is happy.  Later, you can take another 5 minutes to throw on some makeup and simple accessories or do your hair.  You’ll feel so much better!

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