Generation Cedar

Dear Stressed Out, Young Mama:

This is the older me telling the younger me that I see in you, that it’s all going to be OK.

But I’ve learned some things and if I could get you to take some advice from someone a few years ahead of you, I think you would find this life more enjoyable. Maybe?

1. You don’t have to iron so much, or hardly at all. If you hang clothes up out of the dryer (or off the line) most are not too wrinkled to wear. There are the occasional pieces that will need ironed for church or other nice events, but for most things, non-ironed clothes will suffice, especially for young children. Cherish a neat appearance without obsessing about perfection. And really, ironing is just an example of all the ways we feel pressured to be perfect. Give your best, but know that your best will vary in different seasons of life. If your best, with a house full of little people, is getting them out the door with matching shoes (or shoes at all), exhale and accept it. In a different season, your best may look…better.

2.Do not let your children scare you. If you’ve already poured a drink in the pink sippy cup but “GREEN IS HER FAVORITE!” please do not change the cup. Yes, it’s a small thing. Which is exactly why you don’t need to give her the green cup. (Example from the Nanny, Emma) But really, it’s a big thing. The giving in. To love her, truly, she needs to know you’re in control, for her good, and  your strength will be a boon to her development.

3. Do not let other people scare you. One of the greatest forces in our lives is the fear of others, or what the Bible calls, “the fear of man.” Fight it. It will hinder you, impose on your decisions, and ultimately could cause you to live a completely different life than you might have chosen otherwise. Fear causes us to be ruled by the expectations of others and it’s an exhausting place to be. Remind yourself that you must answer to God. Fear Him. Live for Him. And rest in His easy yoke.

4. Savor the differences in your children, let them grow, and do NOT put them in a mold because that’s not where people belong. Push them to be their best but don’t stifle what they’re really good at, or expect them to thrive at what they’re not. Your children are like a bouquet of flowers. Every one is so different and they need the sunshine of your acceptance and love to flourish. Hold them to standards of upright character, but don’t hold them to standards of performance.

5. Slow down. This. one. thing. Evaluate often what the important things in life are and refuse to be ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Do what you have to do, no matter how drastic, to slow down and savor life. Life is a short, fleeting space of time. The people in it are what matter. If you are too busy to give them your time, your love and your attention, you’re too busy. If you’re too busy to go on long walks or sit in the grass and listen to the birds, you’re too busy. Even the demands of our home can push out valuable time with the ones we love. Figure out what is sucking up your time and make adjustments. They’re worth it and you’ll be thrilled, in the end, that you did.

And another thing: accept that there are good days and bad days. And on the bad days, remind yourself that you aren’t stuck here. Push through it and survive it. Better days are coming. Then on those days, soar. Life is about ebb and flow and change and seasons. Grasping that reality has helped me become more buoyant in the waves.

There is grace for when motherhood feels too hard.

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20 Responses

  1. Wow, I needed to read #2 especially! I have often wondered where my children get the sense of entitlement that causes them to complain about jobs they are given, food they are served, etc. It is heartbreaking to me because we have taught them from birth that complaining is unacceptable and the importance of thankfulness and serving others. I have often felt that too many choices breed unthankfulness and discontentment in our hearts. I have let my children “scare” me in the past. By the grace of God…I will be more aware of this in the future. It is ironic that these things we think will make our children “happy” actually end up doing the opposite!

  2. Really Good Word!
    I wish I knew #3-#5 when my girl was little. I had to learn it the hard way, on my own. Which, of course, was hard on her. 🙁

  3. Your description at the end of your post, of the ebb and flow of life and buoyancy in the waves, reminds me of Isaiah 43:2. (“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.”) We can rest in God’s protection and mercy as He carries us through, and we need not struggle against the tide of life. In fact, that is when we’re most likely to feel like our heads are going under water, when we try to fight our own way through the challenges. (It’s still a temptation, even for this not-so-young-anymore mom, to act as if I’m saying “No thanks, God, I’m handling this.”)

    I read an article yesterday, and while it is quite lengthy and mostly regards a different subject than the discussion here, there is one particular section of the article which I was reminded of when you made several of your points in this post, Kelly.

    From your #1: “…all the ways we feel pressured to be perfect.”

    From #3: “[The fear of others]…ultimately could cause you to live a completely different life than you might have chosen otherwise.”

    And #5: “Slow down… Figure out what is sucking up your time and make adjustments.”

    The article is entitled, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” This particular excerpt, from page three of the article, I think speaks well to the time-sucking, pressured, fearful feelings we have of not measuring up to the images that others put forward on the internet. (I don’t believe Facebook and other social media are the only places this happens.)

    When I scroll through page after page of my friends’ descriptions of how accidentally eloquent their kids are, and how their husbands are endearingly bumbling, and how they’re all about to eat a home-cooked meal prepared with fresh local organic produce bought at the farmers’ market and then go for a jog and maybe check in at the office because they’re so busy getting ready to hop on a plane for a week of luxury dogsledding in Lapland, I do grow slightly more miserable. A lot of other people doing the same thing feel a little bit worse, too.

    It’s a stressful business trying to take our cues from others instead of hearing the voice of the Lord as to what His will is for our families in the seasons we’re in. You are right to remind us that we can rest in His easy yoke. The Lord’s ways are never burdensome.

    And thank you again, Kelly, for your reminder that “Life is a short, fleeting space of time. The people in it are what matter.” Going to find my people now. 😉

  4. This is beautiful and so relevant! Thanks for the reminder! Another one that I must remind myself of often is that there is exactly enough time in the day to do what the Lord has planned for me. So then I must evaluate if all these things I try to fit in our day are for Him or myself. Blessings to you.

  5. Ditto to all that has been said thus far. I have often regretted moving back here to be near my mother to be a comfort to her when my sister (her only other child)died at 22 (11 years ago.) I have out of fear of man (especially family) like you said made decisions that I wouldn’t have made otherwise that have proven to be detrimental to the development of our children. I need to rest in Him that it will be ok even at this late stage (for some of my children.) I still have so many other children that are still so young and I don’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past, praise God. Thank you once again Kelly for your wise words.

  6. This is so encouraging. 🙂 I especially love “accept that there are good days and bad days.” I tend to judge my parenting (marriage) on the bad days and that’s not good!

  7. Thanks for this Kelly – your hit all the right spots for this somewhat frazzled UK yummy mummy. As a true saint your turn my focus back to our Heavenly Father – I trust Him to make it all come good :). God bless you and your house in Jesus’ name

  8. If you stretch the clothes with your hands when they are still wet (right after the washer), you barely need ironing. And many clothes do not need the drier, maybe 10′ after they are dry, so they do not feel “crunchy”.
    For small things I do not even open the ironing board: I just iron on my bed, eliminating the biggest wrinkles, that’s all.
    Baby wipes can be used for many things, not only for diaper changes, like cleaning children’s dirty feet right before going to bed.

  9. Thank you so much for writing your blog. I stumbled across it a few days ago and it was just the encouragement I needed. I am a young mama and we just had our 5th. I have never been more isolated or lonely in my life. It is hard to take care of 5 young kids alone. I wish I had someone to call for encouragement, to let me know I am doing the right thing. So thank you for your posts of encouragement. Thank you for reminding us to slow down and focus on our children. Thank you for reminding us weary mamas to rely on God for our strength when life is difficult and fellow man can be so cruel.

  10. Kelly,

    Heard you “Storm Story” on a Happy Home Media Podcast tonight. Happen to take a look around you blog and so glad I did. #3 was meant for me. I’m so afraid of so many things and greatful for this reminder. Will do my best to change my thinking from “what will he/she think” to “What will/does God think?” Thank you for sparking this next step of spiritual renewal in my life! Praising God for your wisdom and finding my way here tonight! Ever so grateful. ~Kayla

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