Calling A.L.N.B. Mommies!!! (or just mommies who can remember)

“She’s really overwhelmed. The kids just seem to be more than she can handle. She doesn’t enjoy being a mommy any more. She’s just so sad, all the time. Can I bring her over?”

That’s what she asked me. Can I bring her over? How could I say no?!! May I say that without question, I feel totally ill-equipped to minister to this young mommy? Her kiddos range from 8 mo to 6 yr old. They are typical busy little people and there are 3 of them. (Aaaaaa!! My number of terror!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

“Do you remember what it was like when all your kiddos were that age? Do you remember THE HARDEST parts?” Um, yes….kind of. But, honestly? So much of life then was nothing more than a blur – I don’t really remember THE hardest parts, because it all seemed hard at the time. (AND, it all WAS hard!) All Littles with no Bigs is H.A.R.D.

And so dear Mommies of all Littles, no Bigs – help me remember, what are THE hardest parts? How can I best minister to this young mum who is coming to my house….to share a cup of tea and some encouragement. Please, give me words that will minister to her and offer her hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel….and that the light is rich and full of joy!

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14 Responses to “Calling A.L.N.B. Mommies!!! (or just mommies who can remember)”
  1. myderbe says:

    My oldest little is becoming big, so I’m seeing the light now . . . some days. ๐Ÿ™‚ What would I like to hear? I’d like to hear that my messy house days won’t last forever, and I’d like someone to tell me it’s OK that my house always looks like a tornado (or three tornados, would you like their names?) has rumbled through. I’d like to see and be reminded that this phase won’t last forever. I’d like someone to make me laugh because a merry heart is good medicine.

    If you want to DO something . . . I’d like for someone to take my children away from my home for a few hours so I could clean or sleep or eat hot food or talk on the phone or watch a movie or read a book or whatever. I’d like someone to come to my house (but not come IN my house — remember it’s embarrassingly messy) and bring me a meal and take two or three loads of laundry home to do for me. I’d like someone to watch my children (at their home, so I don’t have to fuss over my tornado-stricken one) so my husband and I could go to dinner and not have to pay a babysitter. I’d like someone to call me or send me a note and tell me they know what I’m doing is hard but they’re praying for me.

    When my sister-in-law had three little stairsteppers, a lady came on a regular basis (maybe once a week) and met her at the door and took the three boys to lunch. Often my sister-in-law was still in her pj’s — sometimes she slept, sometimes she took a shower. The lady never came in the house, so my sister-in-law never had to worry about how clean it was. She didn’t want her service to cause extra work. ๐Ÿ™‚ My nephews are grown now, but my sister-in-law still remembers that woman and her kindness. She probably saved my sister-in-law from deep depression.

  2. My three are still pretty little (five and under) so I think I’m qualified:) As far as advice, I’d tell her this…pick one thing at a time that will really help you (for me it is quiet rest time for everyone, no food out of the kitchen, littles in the bed by eight) and really enforce that one rule until it sticks, then work on something else. Let the house go until the weekend when hubby can help if you need to – paper plates are sometimes a neccessary expense. Ask hubby to take over one area – bedtimes, baths, fixing breakfast, cleaning up after supper – and then let him and don’t feel guilty (I’m still working on that second part). Put them to bed in sweatsuits they can play in tomorrow. Play with them – teach them to do things mommy enjoys. Coloring, reading stories, eating cookies:) those are fun for everyone. Send her to MOMYS to sign up to get the digest – that’s been a life-saver for me:)
    All this wonderful (haha) advice, though, won’t be as helpful as you ministering to her. Keep reminding her (the way you do me!) that she’s doing very, very hard work! The first time you said (you with all those kids!) that you thought what I was doing with all littles no bigs was HARDER – that changed the way I looked at this whole thing. Just knowing that someone else thought this was hard made all the difference. Feed her some tea or cocoa or hot milk with vanilla and let her pour her heart out. Compliment her kids (we all love that, don’t we?) and keep them occupied for a little while. Make her laugh and let her relax. Then send her home with dinner to stick in her oven so she doesn’t have that to do. Fixing dinner and buying groceries are by far the hardest things for me. Especially with a baby. If she’s not already wearing that little eight month old, show her how to tie him on:) But most of all just love on her – something you are exceptional at:) – and remind her that she can do this! God will give us the strength we need to care for the littles He sent us!

  3. Melanie says:

    The best advice we received (that I still struggle to follow :S) came from Tim’s oldest niece – in her teens? at the time…

    Relax and Enjoy your children.

    [you can guess how hyper-perfectionist I am/we are — we thought our blessed little first dd ought to be able to act more maturely than her parents…ooops. I’m much better at the list of what NOT to do as advice…]

    Along with that, as the others have said, you should remind her that her task is a NOBLE one — and all things worthwhile are usually HARD. “Persevero!” And remember that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” does NOT mean we can do all the things on the list of OUR choosing — instead we ought to seek God’s plan and ToDoList for each day. This is an important season of life, but it excludes many things we might WANT it to include.

    Someone years ago talked about identifying what are the “big stones” in your life (biggest priorities) and putting those in the jar (24-hour day) first… Quiet time with the Lord and your DH have to be two of those Biggies. And Enjoyable Time with the Littles (read-aloud, baking, scrubbing the kitchen floor or bathtub with swim suits on??) Add sleep/naps and vitamins and fresh air. Serve someone else together (ie, find a grandma/pa to adopt and visit). The rest is probably little pebbles at this point. Speak Truth to yourself and your Little Ones (sing your way through a hymnal and memorize appropriate verses).

    ~An old dog still learning in the midst of biggers and littlers (six dc 4-13yo)

    PS. I was thinking a lot about this last night when I couldn’t go to sleep ๐Ÿ˜ฎ And my thought then was to send you to Terri Maxwell at Titus2.com — she has some good articles in their archives about her own battle with depression in the midst of littles.

  4. Dawn says:

    Hi Dawn,
    Wish I had more time to think and write, as this is my first time commenting… but I am a ALNB mom after all, you know!! One of my biggest frustrations is hearing my voice all day long, so often just correcting (even when I do through God’s grace alone occasionally manage to keep my corrections gentle and loving sounding), and not often enough talking and laughing and enjoying together. I must drop my perfectionism, – train and teach, yes- but spend more moments enjoying and building a relationship with these children.

    It helps me so much when the mom of 8 kids tells me her job IS easier because she has big ones to help. It helps me when she invites me over and her older children are a blessing to willingly play with mine so I may speak with her uninterrupted for a time.

    Point her to the God of all comfort, the One who sustains, and SHOW her what it looks like to do that daily. I love everything myderbe and Shannon said – yes compliment her kids and love on her! I also agree with Melanie that Terri Maxwell at titus2.com has some wonderful Mom’s Corners that help so much. ( I love her style, as is yours, of disclosing her personal struggles in order to encourage others. ) Help her identify those negative voices in her life and help her to stop listening to those bad influences – to take every thought captive.
    Will pray for you as you minister to this dear lady. May you be richly blessed as you do!
    Warmly,
    Dawn

  5. Dawn – i had one more quick thought, although it’s more of a way for you big kids to minister. Our pastor’s daughter sometimes rides with me to run an errand so she can stay in the car for a few minutes and I don’t have to unbuckle all those carseats! It’s such a help! I wouldn’t leave her for long, but when I have several places to run in quickly, it’s a lifesaver. She’s also come over to play with the kids on their own turf while Jack naps and I get some work done.
    Let us know how your meeting with her goes – we’ll be praying!

  6. Tiffany says:

    I second everything shannon said. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. javadawn says:

    Thank you my dears! I appreciate your help VERY much.

    Dawn – what took ya so long???!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Don’t be a stranger – even if you comment in sentence fragments – we’ll understand. We’ve all been there! ๐Ÿ˜‰ (PS Are you a Dawn Marie?!! I’m not, but nearly EVERY other one I meet is.)

    Jenn, I remember the day I had a pastor’s wife tell me that it was her Body’s responsibility to send someone over to help her get her kids (4) ready for Church and if they did not, they shouldn’t complain if she was late for Church. I’d never heard such a thing. (Especially since I had 4 at the time and mine were younger than her’s and we were getting to church with Jeff, who was on worship team (meaning an hour early), rather than just breezing in, in time for the sermon) BUT, this side of that place, I can see what a ministry that would be, for an older woman to go help a younger woman get her crew ready – ESP on a Sunday morning!! (Can you even imagine such a luxury?!!!) ๐Ÿ™‚

    AND we all know my official Javadawn stance on older women in the nursery. ๐Ÿ˜€

    I can see, from your comments that I’m going to be chewing on perfectionism for a few days. If I blog on it, it will be ALL your faults. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. MicheleinNZ says:

    I’ve read this one a bit late, but I still want to comment. I’m about to give birth to my third (not imminently about to, but in within the next eight weeks which feels like tomorrow to me) which means we’ll have three under four and I must say I AM FREAKING OUT (!!!!) And I had my mother-in-law say to me this morning the most unhelpful thing I’ve ever been told (at least it feels like that). She said “You’ve still got a while to go, how are you going to cope?” This was said after looking at my house and then noticing that I was about to sit down for a rest. I didn’t say what I really wanted to say, which wasn’t very kind, but I did say “Well, I imagine I’ll do it one day at a time.”
    But I would like someone (and I do have a few someones that do this) to come over and wash my dishes. We have no dishwasher.
    Someone to buy disposables for us so that I don’t feel the pressure to use cloth almost exclusively to save money. I’m all for environmentally friendly, but sometimes I simply don’t care. It’s not that much work, really, but it is more work on top of everything else.
    Someone to take at least one fo the other kids out for a few hours. Having just one around seems so easy!
    Someone to offer free babysitting so we can go out just the two of us.
    Someone who has homeschooled before to sit down with me and help me figure out exactly what we’re going to do and how! I almost don’t even know where to start. Fortunately we’re big book readers around here so that will get us through a couple of years of preschool stuff.
    And I second everything that Shannon said.

  9. Melanie says:

    Oh Michele!
    First, I must say that you answered your MIL very well — and very accurately [in spite of the burn that must have been in your craw].
    I am not promoting claiming all the promises made to Israel, BUT “as thy days are, so shall thy strength be” is a huge favorite when it comes to labor and daily parenting/etc. [you’re supposed to note that God will provide the strength to meet whatever the day brings, not viceversa!] “One day at a time” is a good plan.

    Our oldest was a month short of 3yo when baby#3 was born, so I can tell you that I’ve been there — and we’ve all lived to tell about it. The Lord allowed us 2years between our last two — the rest were closer (we now have six, 4-13yo). And we even attempt to homeschool ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Please read my other post above — and think about the Big Stones in your life. Nursing can be a good time for read-aloud, so that the toddlers are on the couch w/you instead of xyz (use your imagination for toddler mischief).

    Too funny — I hope this will make you laugh: we’re watching a home video from almost 6 years ago (when our camcorder still worked). DH is trying to nap on the floor. DC #2,3,5 are playing rambunctiously near him. DC #4 is playing solo — “Go away” to me the cameraman. Oldest has her nose in a book. Let’s see – she was 7.5yo and had been a bookworm for a whole year =) Reading clicked w/her about the time Thomas was born — and the day he was born (5 min later actually!), the mailman rang the bell w/a large box of books I’d ordered. [New baby and books: WHAT a day! =)]

    So school: keep reading. Find a phonics program that works for you and your kiddos (we’ve used/are using Saxon Phonics for 2 years with all six). At some point, it really clicks — and you just have to keep them fed with good books to devour. Until then, plug away with as much patience as you both can muster – don’t feel pressure to start before age 5. Reading is a big stone =) {Add math; you can read science and history books.}
    If you get to central Iowa, stop by and browse my shelves and pick my brain, fwiw! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Learn to recognize when your hormones are “in control” — take a break — this is an essential time for Truth. I guess as Dawn said, taking every thought captive.

    HTH!
    Lord bless you ~ Remember to relax and enjoy your children!
    ~melanie

  10. MicheleinNZ says:

    I’ve been thinking about this post a lot since yesterday when I first read it. At what point does a little become a big?

  11. javadawn says:

    Well, Michele, my dear, I guess you’ll have to accept my .02 worth….. I would say that when your Little is more help than they are work, they have gone from being a Little to being a Big…this also means that some days your Bigs might be like Littles ๐Ÿ˜‰ AND there will be a season where the Littles are BECOMING Bigs, but just not arrived yet. Does that help at all?

  12. winkies6 says:

    Oh, Michelle! I give you great kudos! Way to keep your attitude in check, girl!! Of course, I would have thrown in there, “with the help of my family and friends, coping will be a big treat!” And, “the Lord never gives me too much that I can’t handle it.” Said, of course, with a great big smile.

    ((((HUGS))))

  13. Revka says:

    I can relate to the MIL situation because for 7 1/2 years I have received constant criticism of my house and several decisions we have made as we raise our children. I try to keep my mouth shut, but it really tries my control and willingness to act in a Christ-like manner.

    I’m probably WAY to late to be helpful here, but my oldest was 2 yrs 8 mos when my 3rd (and currently youngest) child was born, and they are now 4, 2, and 1 so I know what this mom is feeling. There are many days I would just love to run away from any and all responsibility. I find it helps me to take a moment to actually LOOK at my children. When I do that, I remember why they are so precious to God and to us. I do the best I can with the house and just tell myself that the work is never done so it won’t hurt anything if something has to wait for another time. I do find it encouraging to talk to moms who have been there and are on the other side of all the “littles” who show me that this phase in life does not last forever and better times are coming.

  14. javadawn says:

    Revka, ๐Ÿ˜ฆ You break my heart! I hate hearing about MILs that make life as a wife difficult. I pray that I would be a good mil and that I would bless my new daughter, rather than become a pain in her neck.

    I love your suggestion of looking at your children. That is a precious reminder of their value, let alone the reminder that they are changing and growing!

    As for the older mommies reminding you – oh honey, it DOES pass. It passes by so quickly I can hardly stand it. Do your very best (I know, I know, you’ve heard it 100,000,000 times, but DO try) to enjoy the time you have now. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you mindful of the little moments. They will mean so much to you, even in just a few years!!

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