As many of you know, motherhood the greatest passion in life outside of my relationship with Jesus. The first time I saw Callie's face, my life was forever changed in a way I knew only God had designed. My heart grew in size that day and ever since has been walking around in the form of a spunky little girl I love more than life. Motherhood has changed me to be a better person and a closer follower of Him. It has stretched my limits emotionally, physically, spiritually, and taught me that I really don't need 8 hours of sleep to function.
Here are a few small things I have learned in parenting Callie Elizabeth:
- Parent from the inside out. What really matters is how well your child is inside...expensive clothing and extravagant gifts mean nothing to children. The way to show you love your child is quality time (probably doing something that wouldn't be your first choice:) .
- Callie's Song- Since the day she was born, I started singing "Jesus Loves Me," to Callie as she goes to sleep. Even at age 6...if I start singing, it she cannot keep her eyes open! It's helped to calm her down so many times and given her sweet words as she drifts off to sleep.
- Raise a child that is flexible- While keeping a schedule is important to me, I have always been so thankful that Callie is flexible! She started traveling at an early age and is an excellent traveler. I have tried to teach her how to soothe and entertain herself...it has paid off big time!
- Getting involved in too much.....is too much- Basically, if is a problem at school where blood or vomit are involved...I will get involved (which has never happened:). But getting involved in petty arguments between friends or he/she said is a HUGE waste of time. They make up 2 minutes later and then you look silly. Sometimes Callie and I talk about things that bother her throughout the day and we try to come up with solutions but it is her decision whether to utilize them or not.
- Read, Read, Read- Through my education in Early Childhood and my experience as a mother- reading with your child is the most effective way to help them prepare for school. Even 15 minutes a night can make a huge difference in how well they learn to read and how much they love books! Nothing is better than cuddling up on the couch with a good book together!
- Trace their hands- Anytime you get the chance...trace their hands. You can't believe how fast they grow:(
- Oreo's for breakfast. It's OK once in awhile- We're guilty. The end.
- Hugs are healing- for both mommy and child. The best part of my day is when I see her and get a great big hug.
- Praying over her while she sleeps- I'll admit, the first time I did this I felt a little weird. I even thought, "If she woke up right now and heard me praying over her, she would look at me like I was crazy...." But feeling the push from God to make this a daily priority, I started praying and speaking scripture over her. Isn't it funny how the power of prayer just knocks you over? I've seen such tremendous power in her and our family as a result of these prayers. It aligns my heart with God's heart for Callie. It helps me to focus on what He desires for her life and shakes off the day to day occurrences that hinder us.
- Let her experience consequences- One of the hardest things to do is to let your precious child feel the results of their actions. There are times when I am positive that it hurts me more than it does her...but nevertheless she must know that her actions will have negative and positive consequences. If this is not taught at home, it is such a disservice to children.
- Do nothing together- The times I have laughed the hardest, had the most fun, and bonded the most with Callie has been when we were doing nothing at all. No great adventures, no fancy trips...just sitting on the couch...cracking up. To me, that's what life is.....the good stuff anyway.
- The house can wait, babies don't keep- I can tell you that not one time in the past 6 years have I ever had the house organized, all the laundry done, and kept a rigorous schedule. For a lot of people, that's just about enough to send them over the edge. Dusted baseboards can wait when there is a story to be read. And laundry can hold while recipes are made together. Babies don't keep:( ( on a side note: I did marry Matt, who is OCD about the house..so that helps!)
- Journal- At the very least, write down their favorite things at each age. You will look back and laugh one day..and if you get time to jot down things they say or precious memories..you'll thank yourself later. My mom did this for my sister and I...how else would I know that in 6th grade my favorite "band" was Westside Connection? bahaha, it's true! We nearly laughed so hard, my side hurt!
- Emergency Car Kit- Sounds silly. I have learned to always have a bag packed in your car with an extra change of clothes for Callie, pain reliever, baby wipes, Ziplocs, neosporen, band-aids, hair rubber bands, a brush, a blanket.
- Eat lunch with her at school- You learn so much and experience what she does everyday. And you put all those names you hear with all the little faces.
- Be the person she looks up to- They watch you every second and you've never had a bigger imitator of your actions. Example: Callie orders what I do at every restaurant. When given choices, she asks me what I would pick. If I have a snack at home, she will have the very same snack. If I paint my fingernails, she will want hers painted the name. If I get upset and stay to myself, Callie will do that same. If I worry, Callie will too. I have learned that I must strive to be like Jesus not only because it glorifies Him but because I have a mini me learning how to live in this world from me.
- Allow her to have a unique style-This one was a tough one for me. If anyone knows Callie, she loves to be flashy. Flashy is actually a mild word. As for me, neutrals are my best friend. I have loved dressing Callie from day one but this past year, she had other plans. And they included sequins, glitter, and a lot of clothes that were from the 80's. I do have two rules about her "style"- #1 It must be weather appropriate and #2 No private parts can show or almost show. Modesty. She is so proud when she picks out her
outfitscreations. I believe it builds up her confidence and that's worth all the pink spandex in the world.
- Let her take the lead sometimes-So often we forget that children are told what to do almost every moment of their early lives. Naturally, it makes them so happy when they get the take the lead at appropriate times. For example, Callie and I love to cook together. She gets so happy when I let her scour the cookbooks for a recipe she wants to make and choose the whole affair. We always have a cooking show while we cook and I am always the assistant and she is the head chef. She even tells me to look at the "camera" and explain myself. It's hysterical. We also practice this by letting her decide what we do on family night (i.e. movies, games, outside).
- No Means No- No means no and there is no compromising or bargaining after Matt or I have said no. I think it confuses children when parents say no but then end of giving in. Why did you even say no the first time if you change your mind so easily?
- Openness- "Mama.....I gotta tell you something...." Sometimes when your baby tells you the truth, your heart breaks. For the choice they've made. For the disappointment you feel. For the pain it causes you. But mostly, because you realize that your angel isn't perfect and they are affected by sin the same way we are. But teaching your child that they can tell you anything and more importantly- that you love them anyway- is a ginormous blessing. Yes, you look at your child and feel hurt. But they told you the truth! And they came to you for guidance and direction. And you look at your child more objectively, which helps you to accurately guide their steps and be thankful for that. In the dark is not a good place to be in your child's life.