Friday, June 8, 2012

Whittle My Mommy Heart

This motherhood thing sure has the ability to pull out our flaws and glaringly display the fears in our hearts. Maybe not for all to see, but at least for us as mothers to know. And to feel ashamed of. I have got to be honest with you because that's what I do here I've been struggling with something. Deep deep deep down in my heart where I'm too embarrassed to admit it to myself even. Because, although it sounds like a humble brag, and although I realize its not about Reese and not even about other people, it does say something about me that I'm not quite proud of.

I know moms talk because shamefully I do it too. I know that when there are kids who throw tantrums or parents with rather loose discipline styles all the other moms in the room/grocery store/doctors office all give each other knowing looks. But I wonder if other mom's feel the stress about making sure our child isn't that kid.

Reese has always been a mover and a shaker. She rolled over early, crawled early, walked at 9 months and started running not long after. She is not usually misbehaved. She doesn't hit other kids, doesn't snatch toys more often than others her age, listens when I say "no ma'am". She's a great kid.

But when we are at playgroup she is constantly running from here to there, playing with this and touching that.

When we are at birthday parties she is playing with any toys that are out and talking to just about everyone she can.

When we are at home she is always dumping out her toys and spreading them around her playroom and every once in a while I will come down the hallway to see that she has moved her entire ball pit just for fun.

I love her activeness, her personality, and basically everything about her, but sometimes I'm embarrassed.

Because she is so active, I wonder if people think she's misbehaved.

I constantly get comments like "Ooh she never sits still. How do you keep up?" I have other mothers, friends, grandparents, etc feeling the need to chase her, or put their hands out around her to make sure she's safe, or follow her closely as she roams around. I know they do this out of a good place in their hearts, but I feel like they are judging her or judging my parenting of her.

I don't want people to think we let her run wild, but at the same time I don't want to stifle her heart or discourage who she is. Colossians 3:21 says "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged". That is what I'm worried about. Constantly telling her not to go here, not to play with this, to sit and be still would stifle the beautiful spirit within her.

I know there are many times in her life that I'm going to embarrass her.

When I'm the mom who comes to every single practice/rehearsal and cheers her on wildly from the front row.

When I call her friends parents to talk to them and make sure there's going to be an adult in the house for their sleepover.

When Hubby makes sure that boy she likes doesn't even think  the word boyfriend.

When I refuse to stop with the duck face pictures.

I know, Reese. It's not flattering on anyone. I just.can't.stop.

But I feel so incredibly guilty about being embarrassed about her- embarrassed by something that is innocent and free and lovely. I feel embarrassed when other moms look at me and think my hands must be full with the tiny little baby that runs and runs and runs around.

I guess what they, and obviously I, need to realize is that my heart is also full. Is it so bad that she is active? As long as she is not hurting others, touching adult things, destroying toys, and obeys when I talk to her as much as any other 14 month old does I realize logically it should be fine. I don't even know what, if anything, other parents think about her behavior. I realize it all is something down in my heart that needs to be whittled away.

She is lovely and beautiful and it is me and my heart that need to change, not her.


  1. i adore your vulnerability and authenticity. God has so called us to this.

    You have legitimate feelings here, it's absolutely OK to feel embarrassed, God knows your heart, He knows you love your baby girl like nothin else..we are all fallen humans and struggle with pride, and worrying about what others think--and there is no shame in Christ, so know that! Don't feel condemned for having these thoughts and feelings.

    How old is she, I can't remember if you said--so are you saying she is extremely active, more than a typical girl her age? What is her attitude when she is being so active? Is she gentle? I think you are being a wonderful mother as you learn to figure out what works for her and what doesn' will know if she's crossed a line...
    i'm so so glad you shared this, thank you!!!

    haha and you are right, there are many years where it will be your girl is 17 now, and yep, I pretty much can't do any of those things you mentioned!

  2. I think your feelings are totally normal. If that helps.
    But your post was so convicting to me too! I love the scripture you quoted.

    Just yesterday as I schooled my two oldest (who was 7 and 5 - 1st grade and JUST starting Kindergarten) - I got so frustrated with Taite who is 5... and began getting emotional (pregnant doesnt help) - and just said "Im just going to have to send you to public school taite, I dont get why you cant get this.... I am explaining it as SIMPLE as I can. You should get this." - and I just was very belittling... I kept comparing him to his older brother who got it... but just failed to really stop and think "wow... Taite is only 5! Caleb has had 2 years of schooling already... " - and then that night I was venting to a friend and she (who is a teacher) told me "you know that is a 3rd grade level concept you are teaching him." - I had no idea! because it was in my kindergarten book we had... but apparently abeka teaches things way early. Like cursive (normally taught in 3rd grade, well in abeka its taught in kindergarden... ) - but any way, I just felt so guilting for discouring my sweet Taite... who is still so young... who is smart but because he didnt GET it in the time I wanted, I made him feel so less than. Def. got to apologize to him today and take a break from schooling for a couple days.

    I think like any mom we feel such a need for people to think we do a good job as mothers... and we fear what others may think if our child acts a certain way... because obviously "if they do misbehave" its our fault, right? When really, its not. Child arent made to be perfect.... they will act up... they will get up and down 100 times and not sit still for 2 seconds to eat a chicken nugget haha... but they are children... and its totally normal.

    You can discipline... its needed. But sometimes, I think we use discipline as such a tool of fear and control.. that we forget the bigger picture and forget WHY we discipline in the 1st place. Is it to correct a behavior that needs correcting... or is it to CONTROL our child and make them act LIKE WE THINK they should??

    hang in there mama! Im sure your sweetie is no more busier than my 3 crazy boys ;-) - if we had a play date theyd totally put you at ease HEHEHE.

  3. I have the exact same problem with my little guy. He's SO active, that sometimes it seems like he's running wild & out of control. But he's not, I promise. He's just super excited about life, and super active. Both are things that I love about him, and at the same time, both are things that sometimes I am a little embarrassed about(like when we're in public ANYwhere..). Don't be ashamed, most Mommas with active children probably feel the exact same way as you. Oh, and by the way, our kids are perfect, going full speed & all :)

  4. I love your outlook. Such a beautiful reminder xoxo

  5. No need to be worried or embarrassed about this love! It sounds like she is a very good little girl who just has an active spirit and that is okay! My boys are constantly on the go & don't stop until their heads hit the pillow. We have to realize it is just who they are. God blessed them with that spirit and gave them the will to want to discover and learn. If they are not hitting or hurting or being mean to others - then no harm is being done. Let her be free spirited - she will thank you in the end. :)

  6. I think we all struggle with this sometimes! Lately, my son has been much more... umm... vocal - meaning - screaming just for fun! I don't want to be "that mom" with the obnoxious screaming baby, so I try to shhh him when we're out (and honestly, sometimes when we're home too because it just gets annoying!). But then I feel like a giant jerk - he's not even screaming or being loud out of anger or frustration - he's really just having fun seeing what his voice can do. And I worry about just what you said - stifling his spirit. Argh...

    So, thanks for sharing and making me realize I'm not alone in this! :)

  7. Oh dear.. this is a tough one. My first baby (who is now almost 7) is very strong willed. 5ohbaby reminds me a lot of her. Very outgoing, always running wherever she goes, very athletic. Even to this day, she is SO athletic. Hubby and I know she will be a runner when she's older. And for a long time, I worried about what other moms, grandmas, aunts, friends, etc. thought about ME. I still do. But not so much about Haylie. As she has gotten older, everyone has sort of accepted that she is just very outgoing and full of spirit! And it's OK. When she was younger, my grandparents (especially) would tell me, "Well she's pretty hard headed, isn't she?" And just a few months ago, I overheard my grandpa telling my sister, "Your sister's really good at this momma thing, isn't she?" So I think that as 5ohbaby gets older, things will get easier. And don't worry about feeling embarrassed. I guarantee every mom has had the same feeling. I have! Hang in there Momma!! :)

  8. As an "outsider" (no kids) I will be honest when I say that I DON'T judge a "free-spirited" as being misbehaved. Simply because those two words are not synonomous. I tend to give glaring looks when a child is willfully disobeying a parent's orders, or intruding on my personal space without my permission (say, in a restaurant) - not when they are simply BEING A CHILD! A toddler, at that.

    I am certain you are doing a wonderful job raising her, and I'm thankful that you are able to post about subjects like this. It is encouraging to me (considering motherhood) that sometimes moms can have thoughts that might not be very "June Cleaver"...

    If a person's child is smiling, laughing, exploring and engaging their environment (within reason)- they are living how God intended. And I think 5ohBaby is doing just that :)

  9. I wouldn't judge an active child like that. Sounds like she is active, but well-behaved. There IS a difference.

    And yes, I do the same thing. Sort of. FireGirl is terribly shy, and doesn't always react in an appropriate way when she's nervous. Like you might say 'hi' to her, and she might scream and run away so fast I don't have time to explain to you what's going on because I have to chase her. And it's not a game. It's because she's SOOOOOOO uncomfortable around people she doesn't know.

    I often wonder what people think when she does that...

  10. Ashely, this is such a sweet post. I love how you see your daughter's activeness as a positive and beautiful part of her personality! So many people would be annoyed by it and would see it as the good thing that it is. =) I'm not a mom yet, so maybe I should be saying anything, but I'm sure those feelings are normal for most moms. Either way, I think it is just another manifestation f that instant battle to find acceptance in Jesus instead of other people's opinions. Keep loving your daughter for who she is and seeking to bring glory to God without fear of what "man" says or thinks. Praying for you girl! Keep being an awesome mama to your little girl. I know you already are. <3
    Alesha <3

  11. I have 4 very active children. One of my close friends says to me regularly, "your kids are always moving." And they are. But, my kids are also the (good) behavior standard she praises to her kids w/ kids. So, we need to give ourselves, and our kids, room to be themselves. We know when they are genuinely misbehaving. Otherwise we need to dispense them, and ourselves, grace. And not worry about what others think.

  12. It must have been so therapeutic to write this, Ashley! It's a lovely introspection, and it touches on a topic that I KNOW so many mothers think about. No one wants to be THAT mom, THAT dad, THAT grandparent. In the end, you're right. As long as she isn't hurting anyone or disobeying, what's the harm with being a mover and a shaker? NOTHING. You're right to let her gain confidence by exploring on her own. You're doing a great job!

  13. Everyone else has already said what I wanted to I'll just let you know that I am sending you hugs...and high fives! You are such a wonderful mama. Xxo

  14. This post really spoke to my heart. My little one is 9 months old, but already so active. He's close to walking, I'm sure he'll crack it before he hits 10 months. Everyone else I know has kids who develop on the late side of things so they always comment on how active my baby is. I worry he is too busy, too into things, too active, but you are so right, I don't want to stifle his spirit. You're doing a great job, let your little be free, she is learning and growing!

  15. I looked for your email, but couldn't find it. I wanted to just give you some encouragement! I use to feel the same way, and some times I still do. But then I had my 2nd child. My 2nd daughter, they are 11 1/2 months apart. I'm not kidding. And it changed EVERYTHING! I quickly realized that I could not longer pay attention to what others were thinking or the looks that I was getting (i'm sure they were, she has to be the nanny, that is just ridiculous!!). I realized that we had been entrusted with their little hearts to mold and shape teach self control, sharing, to learn to play and laugh. To let AB explore and to let EK be a social butterfly. I needed to have their attention and that I was going to have to stand before the one who made me, who made them, next to their daddy and we are going to have to answer for this journey of parenthood. I suddenly didn't care what others thought about the way that I parent. When I let AB walk in public without holding my hand, I really don't care if others think my hands are too full to hold hers. She is just little miss independent and that is what floats her little 20 month old boat. I don't care if others are annoyed at my 9 month old yelling "baba" at a restaurant, I'm not going to stifle her voice that is going to move mountains later!

    So enjoy her, let her play and move things around. And don't you dare worry about what others are thinking, it's your divine right to raise her the way in the convictions that you have been given.

  16. As someone who doesn't have kids..don't be embarrassed! I can fully tell the difference between a healthy, happy, ACTIVE child and a disobedient, disruptive, misbehaved one. There is a clear difference to me and you should really be proud of how naturally active and curious little 5OhBaby is! Not all babies have the personality and spunk to talk to everyone around, find things to entertain themselves with, and enjoy their surroundings (I should know, I was the painfully shy one in Momma's lap longingly wishing I had the courage to jump in with people or kids I didn't know!) Celebrate her vivacious personality spirit!!!

  17. I loved this post and totally needed this today. My little guy is the same way, and sometimes I wonder what the heck I'm going to do! What we really need to wonder- is how we got so dang lucky to have the oppurtunity to be mothers!

  18. You know I have two precocious youngsters in my house, and they find new ways to confound me daily! My 8year old, M, is still in constant motion, even doing cartwheels at each stop of our NASA bus tour this spring. She watches TV upside down in handstands, or bouncing on an exercise ball. All of this in between wiggly snuggles with mom and dad. She doesn't meet a stranger until I want her to be outgoing, then she shuts down to make a liar of me! J is a 10 year old boy who is discovering sarcasm... NO idea where he learned that! He has no filter though, and pulls it out on grandparents or others who don't understand. He is also discovering his own sense of style, appreciated by himself and the more poorly dressed of the Ringling Brother's clown troop! All this to say, I have recently come to realize I need to focus on the job God gave me when he blessed me with J and M. What others think and do is when they are responsible for. If I try to parent to others expectations, I will fail my kids and the trust given to me through God. I'll fail enough as it is! This doesn't mean I never let those glances bother me, or the "help" some offer, but I try to be like the far side cartoon, unless it's acid, Lord, help it roll off my back! Sometimes others will throw acid, then I have to pray I won't throw it back! We are all born into sin, so it is unrealistic for us to expect perfection from our kids, and to expect perfection from ourselves.... Shoot, we even are expected to treat those who "spitefully use us" with love and respect! Ouch! Bottom line, answer to God and no one else. If you and 5ohhubby are together in parenting,under prayer and Godly foundations, ignore the rest! Love you guys!

  19. Wow. Thank you for posting this! I have all of the exact same thoughts about my daughter. The only time I really tell her no or discipline her is when she is being outright disobedient or when she's doing something I know will hurt her. Other than that, I try to let her do her own thing so she does develop some imagination and some spirit (which she seems to already have plenty of). But, other people mean well (I guess) and sometimes try to correct that very thing we're trying to instill. Im just trying to major on the majors and minor on the minors.

  20. This is a great post! Its exactly what I have been feeling everytime someone in the family sees my girls. They freak out or over react when any little thing happens. My kids rarely get hurt playing, but they look at me like I am a bad mom for letting them play so freely. the funny thing is when family watches my kids, they come back with bruises and cuts like crazy... Ironic.Anyway, I love the duck face picture!!! So cute

  21. You've pretty much described my daughter (even the moving the ball pit across the room part!); she turned two yesterday. She is in constant motion and has been that way since she was inside my belly (she also arrived, kicking and screaming, precisely on her due date! This kid is go-go-go!). She moves all around in her sleep, and rarely sit still for anything. She is a curious, energetic, spirited, determined firecracker. People ofen say things like, "Does she stop moving?" or "Wow, she has BOY energy!" At first it overwhelmed and exhausted me, but as she as gotten older and even more independent, I've learned to stand back and let her go (and go and go and go...). She literally lives every second of her life with determination and gusto (she's amazing in that way!) As far as other people and what they think, I've stopped worrying. As long as she isn't screaming/yelling/distrupting/destroying, then I say, carry on! Who cares what others think! (I know, that's hard as a first time mom, and something I need to be reminded of from time to time as well...) Don't be embarrased, be proud :)

  22. I know I feel that stress sometimes!

    Especially when we're in restaurants - hubby and I have almost always gone out for a casual, sit-down dinner at a restaurant on Friday nights and since having Jay, we've just made sure to go to places that are family-friendly. Sometimes Jay is perfectly fine, others (like last week) he's "that kid" - the one that won't sit still, screaming and crying and fussing about anything and everything... being difficult... making me wonder if we should wait until he's older... fortunately I've noticed most restaurants we've been going to seem to have a "family" section where other families with younger kids that may act up or be loud are seated so we can all annoy each other, lol...

    And then Sunday School... he's "that kid" that won't stop crying when you drop him off in the nursery. After 2 weeks in a row of him crying nearly the entire time we were in service because he was scared and just wanted mommy, I felt so horrible and we haven't been back since (that was Easter and the week after - we think we'll try again soon though).