Monday, September 23, 2013

Loved This Book.

You should see the pile of books I brought home from the library.  Its huge. I'm not sure I'll get through it all. But I am somehow on a roll.

I think I'm just trying to feel productive while I wait to move this winter.

I just finished this book and just have to share with you about it.

Spirit-led Parenting: From Free to Freedom in Baby's First Year

I think I first heard of this book when I was pregnant with my second baby.
Since the title includes the words "Baby's First Year" I figured I had missed the boat on it. I'd done first baby's first year. So I forgot all about it.

Recently on my library devouring bonanza I saw it and grabbed it, I think just because I was book hungry. I figured I'd super-missed the boat now, since I've done two baby's first years, but I was looking forward to reading it just for kicks.

Oh my goodness. 
It was just what I needed.
(After year-one, of baby-two!)

I'd highly recommend it to Christian mommas of small ones. (ESPECIALLY any sleep deprived ones.) (And not just the first time mommas.) If you are feeling any fear or doubt in your young momma days, or just need some encouragement in the hardship of mothering, I think you'll get something out of this.

It's really encouraging. It spends its pages pointing you towards God and his leading for your specific child and your family. 
It reassures you that just because what you are doing isn't what certain book or certain mind frame told you is "best" doesn't mean you are wrong or you are failing. That God knows you and your baby and your family and He has the strength, knowledge and power to lead you in the right ways for your family because He loves us individually, and He knows us each intimately.

I very much related to the raw feelings of the authors, as well as some other women's shared throughout. I know for me entering motherhood was shockingly emotional.  (And I'm an emotional person. So you'd think it wouldn't surprise me!)
But before my baby was in my arms I "knew" all sorts of stuff. And once she was there in my arms, I knew nothing. Or at least that's how I felt. Because all the stuff I had decided before hand didn't seem right anymore.

But what I found out is God really does equip mommas with the instincts for their baby.
And I was graced with a peace about that through most my first daughter's young life. Overall for the most part I was completely at peace with tuning into my instincts and trusting that God put them there for a reason. But there was a voice of doubt kind of constantly saying "You are just doing this because you aren't strong enough to do it the better way." For the most part I was able to ignore that voice. But I do wish I could have read this book then to cement it all in my mind that God was the one leading and guiding me and it was the right way for us. (And then I could have told that voice to get lost.)

I actually have some really beautiful proof that God gives mommas the right instincts for their babies.

God instilled a DEEP sense of need to protect my young daughter from certain foods. She was my first baby. She was the only baby I had ever spent time with. I didn't know much about food. And I had no clue about feeding babies. 
But I had really deeply seated feelings about keeping her from certain foods. 
It didn't make sense to anyone.
My mother-in-law told me to keep trying to feed her some of the foods I wasn't feeing her because she just needed to learn to like them. And I just didn't feel the need to.
Pretty much everyone thought I was a goofball when I made a totally nontraditional birthday cake for her.
I remember talking to a good friend and asking her how do we know its ok if they eat birthday cake, they've never had it before, how do we know its safe? And she was very sweet in response, but I could tell my train of thought wasn't standard.

Come to find out two and a half years later, she has tons of food allergies. And God had equipped me to keep her safe.

He gave me peace in breastfeeding her more than a standard older baby. She really didn't eat much solid food at all, until after her first birthday. And I think God had given her the instincts to wait, and me the instincts to be ok with that, to keep her safe until she was old enough that we could read the signs of what foods would hurt her.

Once we figured out dairy hurt her, we started her on rice milk. Blake had asked if he could give her almond milk. Not thinking much about it, I firmly told him no. I was just resolute on it. Come to find out later (we had no idea then) she's allergic to nuts. And nut allergies are easily the most fatal. God put a deep seated knowledge of how to mom my baby inside me. And for that I am really grateful.

So you would think with all that going on I'd just trust Him easily with a second baby. And you would think that I'd have the built in experience that He guides my instincts to feel free to except my instincts.
And I did. At first.
Ruby was an excellent sleeper for about a half year or so.
But then she stopped being one.
And I started doubting myself.
And I started really questioning myself.
I started thinking I was not strong enough for this job of mom of two.
Right now, as in last night and the night before, Ruby is a terrible sleeper. Terrible. I might as well have a newborn. Terrible.
And Jasmine, my three year old, keeps waking up in the middle of the night. (She used to sleep straight through for a couple years now.) (By the way, my other library book on three year olds tells me this isn't out of the ordinary for three year olds. Which makes me feel a little better.)
So I get BEAT DOWN. Just by sheer sleep deprivation. 

Reading this book right now was so perfect.
It reminded me of my instincts and how they are made for my babies. (And how I know that, but forgot.)
It reminded me of the constant presence of a God who can tell me exactly what to do.
I reminded me that babies aren't an inconvenience to be managed but a person to mold (and that yes, I may be molding them, but God is molding me through caring for them.)
It reminded me of the servant's heart of my Lord and Savior. And how I get the chance to walk in his ways in these days of true servanthood as a mother.

And even though this book doesn't address more than a baby's first year, the fact that it so beautifully lays out just how well God is able to lead and guide us as mothers, it's giving me a lot more confidence in the stuff I have going out outside of baby-ness. Because if I can trust Him to lead me in those small things, I can trust Him in other small and big things.
Preschooler-ness. TV-use-ness. Potty-training-ness. Food-issues-ness. Moving-across-state-lines-ness. Provision-for-new-housing-ness.

I found it deeply deeply encouraging right now.

Now, I do feel the need to throw something out there: two women wrote this book. They each individually came from a place of trying books that scheduled babies into good sleep. That didn't work for their babies. And so the place God lead them looked more like attachment parenting.
They are very careful to say over and over that God can lead every mom for each baby to a unique type of parenting. And therefore they aren't advocating "attachment parenting" over "main stream parenting." They just end up sharing their experiences (which were something of a huge surprise to them,  as they had in mind something very different.) They share how the things they did, did not ruin their life as they once feared they would.
I tend to like to look at book reviews on Amazon and so in doing that I saw that a couple women felt that the book leaned to heavily towards attachment parenting for them. As if they authors were saying that's the only way God leads.
But for me, I didn't get that out of what they were saying at all. 
I think these women were very sweetly sharing their experience of motherhood not being what they had expected, and the fears they had of both failing and being judged by others for not conforming. I think those feelings can be felt very strongly no matter how you parent. I know friends who feel judged for doing the schedule thing. And I have every confidence that God has guided these women that are my friends to be great mommas to their babies -- babies that thrive in that type of environment and are being parented well.
So I think* "scheduled baby-mommas" would still very much be encouraged by this book because it really does spend its time pointing towards God. (With a couple observations about their sort of attachment decisions thrown in just for encouragement if that is where God's saying you need to take your baby.)

*I say "I think" because: full discloser, my babies have needed more attachmenty type of mothering. My older, much more than my younger. But I've never claimed any sort of style. In the early days of my second baby, we kinda looked like a scheduled family because she was so easy and liked to go to sleep on her own and did NOT like to be in a baby carrier. 
But now in her later days we look like a circus. :) And I'm feeling more at peace with that because of this book. :) Because I'm realizing its not circus at all. We are being lead through the paths the Shepherd has for us. And its just starting to dawn on me, in the more harried days of mommying two, to look around because it really is a beautiful path.

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