Thoughts on Mothering
by Tamara Eaton
Every mother of more than one child has times when she feels stretched in several directions at once--trying to meet the needs of each individual child. In fact, often a mother of one or two who is thinking of having more children asks herself, "Will I be able to handle more than one or two? Will I love each child as much as the first? How will I manage if they all need me at once?" There's only one adequate response--the same Lord who blessed you with the children will enable you to take care of them!
We can trust in His grace during busy seasons of our lives and ask Him to help us cherish each moment with each child--whether we have one or twenty or more! He's our strength during nurturing, discipling, and homeschooling our children, and His strength never fails.
I love each of my six children unconditionally and each one is very special and unique. Maybe it's because all our children were a result of much prayer (Psalm 113:9 "He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.") but each one has been so treasured and appreciated.
I can remember all their first steps--it was just as thrilling to see the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth child take the first step as it was for the first one. Not only that, but in addition to the cheers of Mom and Dad, they had the cheers of the other children, too! I have many special memories of each one--physical and spiritual birthdays, learning to read, getting his own library card, cute sayings and stories, learning to whistle, learning to drive--and before I know it, (should the Lord tarry) I'll have memories of weddings and grandbabies and more....(With all those memories crowding my brain, no wonder I sometimes get their names mixed up!)
Our first child didn't have much time to be the "only child" so we had a crash course in parenting more than one. By the time our firstborn was nine months old, we were expecting another baby--and we ended up having four children in four and a half years. But that didn't make us love any one of them less--our love for them multiplied! And when years later, after a God-planned gap, we were blessed with two more within twenty months--we rejoiced again!
We sought to never look upon them as a group--"the children" but to see them as precious individuals with individual needs and gifts. Each one created by the Lord for a special purpose in life that only he or she could fulfill. It has been exciting to watch them develop and mature.
There are quite a few books written about birth order, and while they're interesting, I don't always agree with them. A recent parenting book suggested we give all our children a "first born" experience by making sure they get our special attention and don't get overlooked or taken for granted. I do agree with making sure we treasure each individual child, but I also know that being a first-born of several children isn't always all it's cracked up to be. William and I are both first-borns and experienced firsthand some of the joys and sorrows of the position, so we've tried to be especially aware of not burdening the older ones or expecting too much from them--viewing them as "miniature adults". They need a normal childhood, too.
Our later children have some benefits to their birth order--parents with more experience and wisdom! And older siblings to love them, help nurture them, and do things with them--but not to take over rearing them! I often say to my older children, "There are already two parents in this house and that's enough!"
Each birth order brings its own potential problems so we have to be on guard and ask the Lord for His help in bringing up our children--we don't want to push and pressure the firstborn, or ignore the middle ones, or spoil the younger ones. (I've seen quite a few families where the younger children were showered with all the attention.)
Homeschooling has given me time to spend with each child--time to be home with them, enjoying them, knowing them, treasuring each season of our lives. The little ones were able to get special attention from me when the older ones were busy doing other things, the older ones were able to get special attention from me while the younger ones were sleeping or playing, and the middle ones were able to receive special attention from me when the older ones and younger ones were doing different things. It all balances out when we allow the Lord to reign in our hearts and homes!
And much, much valuable attention takes place within the daily routine when we're all together, enjoying one another. I don't buy the idea that the only time we can really minister to our child is when it's just the two of us alone without distractions, although we do have time alone with each child sometimes and often catch moments during the day.
I believe the key is to keep our focus on what's really important and not let other things interfere--our children are only young once and we can let up on housework, laundry, elaborate meals, outside activities, etc., when necessary, to take time to really play with them, read to them, talk to them, listen to them, discern their needs and BE THERE for them!
It could seem overwhelming if we get our minds into it too much, but God has a plan for our family and it included six precious children. We can trust Him to help us give all the attention and care and love to each one--for they are all very precious to us and we will be eternally thankful for this privilege!
Psalm 90:16-17 " Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it."
Psalm 127:3-5 "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
Psalm 128:1-3 "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table."
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information, please join us on the Christian Homeschool Fellowship Message Board.
[ Please don't forget to include your email address within the body of your message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient email addresses! ]
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."