Me: Oh, thank you. *takes paci, checks for hair and/or visible dirt, shrugs, gives it to Elliott* It'll build his immune system.
Kind person: *look of shock*
That's a good way to summarize my first year of parenting.
As I reflect over the past year I'm reminded of something: I'm not a super mom.
You know what I'm talking about. Those moms who have it all together with their paci-wipes and phenomenal diaper changing skills [cloth only please] that put the seasoned daycare worker to shame and schedules that are precise down to the minute. The ones who breastfeed for at least the first year if not the second [more power to them, by the way!] and know all the dos and don'ts of parenting because they read every book and article they could find before baby arrived [and they'll be happy to share some advice if you want... or even if you don't]. They read at least five books a night to their child and know exactly which toys are appropriate for their age to stimulate their ever-growing brain. They don't miss a routine visit to the pediatrician and could recite the vaccine schedule to you if you'd like to jot it down.
I'm not that mom.
I'm the one who can't for the life of me remember to pack everything I need. More than once [ok, MANY times] I've had to stop at the closest Wal-Mart or CVS to get the most basic of supplies that my diaper bag has lacked. Bottles, diapers, wipes... you know name it, I've forgotten it. So you can bet there wasn't a paci wipe within reach.
I looked like [and felt like] a deer in the headlights at least the first three months as I fumbled about changing diapers, sometimes 3 or 4 within a 5 minute span, getting sprayed in the face and mixing bottles [yes, formula] and trying to remember if I had scheduled that appointment....
I work full time so after six weeks of trying to figure out what in the world I was supposed to do with this crying, pooping, sleep-all-day-up-all-night little bundle of goodness, I was back at the workplace trying to now figure out how to function on no sleep and be decent employee and maintain my wife and motherly duties.
The items on my plate had multiplied but for some reason the plate itself was the same size.
I could have probably filled a small swimming pool with the tears that I cried those first few months. I just knew that this kid was going to be warped for life. How could he not be? After all, some nights I was so exhausted I didn't give him a bath or *gasp* read one book, much less five. I quit breastfeeding after one month and had to experiment to get the right formula for his little tummy.
To top it all off, fast forward to 5.5 months and we're traveling internationally with him to the Jung|e. Before he reached one he had been to four countries outside the US, all of which were third world. He's been passed around Indian villages and ridden backseat in our laps in a taxi more times than I can count. He's played in mud and eaten leaves and torn butterflies in half. He's a very ambitious boy and has the bumps and bruises to prove it.
I think I'm the most unconventional mom I know. The first kid is just trial and error anyway, right??
I used to feel guilty that I didn't follow the rules. Should I really let him cry it out? Is it too early to discipline? I don't think they're supposed to be exposed to sweets until they're at least one.... Is it ok for him to be in this walker? Is it safe to travel overseas? What about vaccinations? Is soy or milk based formula better? Is this toy too advanced or not advanced enough? Am I stimulating his mind enough? I don't think he can watch TV yet... Is it time to take the paci away? Will his teeth be ruined because we gave him a paci in the first place??
The choices are endless when it comes to how to parent your child and EVERYONE has an opinion [and their's is the right one of course]. Fortunately, the Bible has more than a little to say about it and one verse that I've claimed more than anything in this past year is James 1.5:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
I've found myself everyday saying, "Hey, God. This is me coming to you lacking a lot of wisdom. Can I make a withdrawal from your wisdom bank, please?"
And the best part is, every time I've asked, He's come through.
He's good like that.
So, while I may not be a super mom and may not do things like they're "supposed to be done" all the time, I have a resource that far exceeds today's parenting gurus. I have a God that has given me wisdom and a healthy baby boy to prove that no matter what the "professionals" may say, my God knows best.
My plan for parenting? I'll continue teaching him, loving him, picking him up when he [once again] loses his battle with gravity, and most of all raise him to know a personal God who loves Him so much He gave His only Son.
Seems to be working so far....
Elliott with the locals at 5.5 months.
Elliott playing in the Jung|e mud at 9 months.
My happy, healthy boy at almost one year! Praise God!