Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Parenting

What I Pray for My Children

Lindsey Smallwood

I want a lot for my kids.

I want happy days playing in the sunshine and the chance to for them to learn to ride a bike. I want memories made by the pool on long summer afternoons and the joy of conquering winter’s biggest sledding hill.

More importantly, I want them to develop in all the right ways. Physically, relationally, intellectually, spiritually. I long for their little lives to flourish, growing into their full potential as people, loving God and loving others the way they were made to love.

But raising kids is not another project.

If you want to write a book, you set a goal of two chapters a week, clear some time in your calendar and get after it. If you want to lose 20 pounds, you throw away the chocolate and reacquaint yourself with the elliptical machine. Turning tiny humans into actual full-fledged adult humans is different, because:

  1. it takes 18+ years, and,
  2. ultimately they get to decide how much they will develop.

My first few months of motherhood, these thoughts paralyzed me. I considered every tiny decision in light of the huge scope of parenting.

If I wait ten minutes to pick him up when he cries, will he learn to fall asleep on his own; thereby becoming a more independent person, capable of sleeping, and perhaps other tasks, without my help? Or will I teach him that the world doesn’t care about his distress, that he’s actually alone in that tiny crib-cage?

But seriously, I wondered about this stuff with everything from how to do tummy time to what kinds of food I should offer at meals. It was overwhelming.

At some point, I became more confident in my parenting decisions, realizing letting him cry while I took a much needed shower wouldn’t keep him from mental health in young adulthood, and if my dad wanted to give him an ice cream cone, it wouldn’t change his taste for healthy fruits and vegetables.

And as I’ve continued learning how to be a mother, trusting my instincts and consulting with experts (aka: the moms of adult children in my Bible study group), I’ve come to understand that while I’m responsible for shepherding my little ones through the little moments and tough challenges they face each day, I can only do so much. Both because I’m only one person with 16 awake hours every day (give or take, actually no, please don’t take), and because my children are people with hearts, minds and wills of their own.

So what do I do with all my wants? How do I manage my hopes and dreams about the people they’re becoming in light of the day to day demands of work and parenting?

I pray.

I know. This is not mind-blowing insight. But sometimes the seemingly simple tasks are the ones we need the most and tend to forget.

As I lay my babes to sleep each night, I pray they’d grow to be like Jesus. I’ve been using Luke 5:52 as my guide. It’s a tiny little verse that tells us nearly everything we know about Jesus’ childhood.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Oh that my own children would grow in wisdom! That their minds would be sharp, full of God’s truth and their intellects would develop as they better understand the world around them.

And stature! I pray that their sweet little bodies would grow healthy and strong, able to do every good work God has planned for them to do.

And that they would find favor in relationships, most importantly, with their Creator and also with all the people God brings across their path.

It’s not conquering the sledding hill or mastering tummy time, but I think this simple prayer covers all the bases that truly matter. It’s my nightly act of remembering what we’re working toward and trusting God with the outcomes, whatever they may be.

It’s that trust, for me and my kiddos, that I want most of all.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places. 

I Don't Want to Forget

Lindsey Smallwood

At Middle Places this month, we're ReCounting - preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving by taking time to remember. Today I'm holding on to sticky fingers and chubby-cheeked smiles... 

I’ve been feeling schmoopy this week.

That’s the word my husband and I use when we feel sentimental and all overflowing with a gushy kind of love.

I keep looking at my kids – two boys ages 1 and 2 – and feeling sad that some day they’re going to grow up and leave home. I am enjoying this season so much and the thought that someday they’ll be big giant men who don’t need me makes my heart wilt a little.

Jen Hatmaker keeps telling me that teenagers are fun too. Carol, our MOPS mentor mom, told our group of mothers-of-preschoolers that her favorite season of parenting has been having adult children. So I’m trying to believe them and know that I’ll enjoy what comes next too, but oh, the cheeks! The lisps! The cuddles! It all seems so exquisite right now.

The other night as we were reading bedtime stories to the boys, I leaned over to my husband and said wistfully “We’re going to forget this, you know? These days, they’re all just going to seem like a big blur of diapers and legos and swiffering the floor all the livelong day. We’re going to forget the smiles and the storytimes and the giggles.”

He looked at me thoughtfully.

“Yeah, maybe, “ he replied. “But we’ll have your blog. Don’t you think your writing will help us remember?”

I’ve been turning it over in my head, wondering if he’s right.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started again in earnest in February, during Lent, finding my voice after taking a sabbatical from social media. At first it was a rush, giving voice to stories with no other place to be told, welcoming feedback from friends new and old.

Then it was a personal challenge, writing as a way to grow my skills at the craft, submitting to magazines and websites, working with editors and learning how to revise my work to fit in other contexts.

More recently it’s been a discipline. After a miscarriage last month and a long bout of illness at home, I’ve been fighting exhaustion and some feelings of depression. Writing has been a means of getting in touch with my real self, tuning into the sadness and confusion, rather than trying to drown it out with busyness and Netflix reruns.

In the midst of all of these, it’s been my hope that my writing will be a way to give glory to God, to find Him in the midst of my ordinary life and point to His grace for those who are willing to see.

But maybe in addition to praising God and processing feelings, beyond connecting with people online and growing my skill set, maybe writing is a way of remembering, of chronicling now for someday.

For someday when my babies aren’t babies and life doesn’t look the way it does today anymore.

Their baby books are mostly empty, save a couple locks of hair and their teeny-tiny hospital bracelets. But as I watch them grow, as I watch me grow, as I’m changing and learning, I’m writing it down to remember. I’m recounting today so that it’s gifts and lessons can be cherished for the days to come.

You guys, their little heads smell like heaven and their chubby hands are the most perfect things I’ve ever held.

And I don’t want to forget.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places. 

Quick & Lively

Lindsey Smallwood

You guys, it's Bobby's birthday this week! My sweet baby is two years old. So excited to celebrate his little life that has already changed mine forever. Today at Middle Places I'm telling his birth story and reflecting on God's generous gift of parenthood. 

I wasn't planning to have a baby that day.

Sure, I was 38 weeks along and the size of a mall Santa Claus. And okay, I'd been having sharp pains at regular intervals all night long. Plus there was the groaning into my bowl of granola.

But everyone told me that babies are always late, especially first babies, that I'd know when I was in labor. All I knew is that my stomach kept getting tight as I was trying to get through my breakfast.

Mom had flown in to be there and she had a strange smile as she watched me.

"I think it's time, Linds," she said knowingly.

I was sure that, just like in all the stories I'd heard from my mom friends, the hospital would take one look at me and send me home with instructions to wait out the pain. Luckily, I had my last regularly scheduled visit with my OB/GYN that morning so we didn't argue about whether it was time to go in or not.

Watching from the kitchen, me bent over in pain and my mom whispering encouragement, my husband announced that he was packing his bag so we could all go to the doctor visit. He threw in a sweatshirt and swim trunks ("...I thought someone said something about a waterbirth?") and off we went, Chris and I huddled in the backseat of our Toyota Corolla, as Mom zipped up the California freeway.

When I arrived at the doctor’s office, the receptionist took one look at me and ushered me into an exam room, where my doctor promptly informed me that I was 8 cm dialated, which in having-a-baby-speak means it’s just about time. Chris and I had planned to drive out to a ritzy suburb for delivery, we have made arrangements to check in to a hospital that featured midwifes and birthing tubs. But given how quickly things were progressing, we were rerouted across the street to the teaching hospital in order to have the baby then and there.

Once I realized the moment was really here, that we were going to meet the little person we’d been dreaming about all these months, I was both overjoyed and overwhelmed. Chris held my hand and told me funny stories. The pain, which up until that point had seemed manageable became unbearable. Though we had planned a natural childbirth, I asked for an epidural. Chris nearly fainted after seeing the needle and had to be taken away, but I was so thankful for the sweet magical medicine. I took a nap and woke an hour later, ready to push.

At some point during my labor, a nurse asked permission to use my birth as a teaching experience for new doctors, nurses and EMTs who needed to observe labor and delivery. Feeling magnanimous after my epidural, I said “Of course!” which meant that when it was time to deliver the baby there were 17 people in that tiny hospital room, watching in anticipation.

After three pushes, my firstborn came screaming out into the world. His head was the most perfect round shape and his eyelashes were longer than anyone’s I’d ever seen in real life. Even in the messy aftermath of the birthing experience, he smelled so sweet. The nurse took him over to the scale and Chris leaned over, watching her work. He looked back at me with tears in his eyes, saying “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” I laughed but understood, God’s great pleasure in His own son made perfect sense as we admired this tiny human God had made with our love.

I’ve never been more grateful for a God who holds the whole world in his hands as I was that day, holding my baby in mine for the first time. The thrill of birth, the fear of loss, the joy of new life, the overwhelming sense of responsibility all mingled together to create an awe for a God who so carefully and personally stewards His creation and had entrusted me with doing the same.

This week, my baby turns two. For two of the longest, shortest years of  my life, I’ve been growing in that sense of awe everyday. As we make a cake and sing a song and celebrate the quick and lively creature that is my son, my eyes are turned again to the Giver of all life with gratitude that He’s allowed me to join Him in the incredible work of growing tiny humans.

Today, for the gift of parenthood, thanks be to God.

Coffee is Not Enough

Lindsey Smallwood

You guys. Tommy, my six month old, has a 104 degree fever, the sweet baby wants to nurse and be held all the livelong day and night. My toddler, Bobby, thinks Cheerios make a better floor decoration than breakfast food so I'm continually reacquainted with my friend Mr. Swiffer. My sweet husband Chris has a late meeting (again) and won't be home until bedtime. And I slept funny last Thursday and haven't been able to turn my neck in all the usual directions for days. 

It's been one of those stretches lately. Where your eyes cross a little and people look at you funny because they've asked you a question and you are just staring at their eyebrows. 

Presented to you in the whole, honest, embarrassing truth:

1) You try to open the door to your house by standing in front of it and clicking your car remote.

2) After putting on your shoes, you remember that you must first put on pants if you want to leave the house.

3) The clerk looks at you sympathetically when, after getting your 2 kids to the car, into the cart, around the grocery store (with your LIST, no less), and through the 3-person-deep checkout line, you realize you have left your wallet at home.  With the diapers.  Which you have also realized that you now need.

4) You "clean up" by putting the dirty diaper in the washing machine and throwing away the messy onesie.  When you realize your mistake, you fish out the dirty diaper but decide to just let the onesie go.  

5) When you find yourself thinking of your husband more than usual, you realize it's because you put on his deodorant this morning and the smell of Speed Stick is with you wherever you go.  

True stories, people.

Friends, are you tired? What sleepy-eyed moments are you finding yourself in this week?