Growing Together: The Mom Cafe and the better part of parenting

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growing together

If you’ve been blogging for more than a minute, you no doubt know this week’s Growing Together guest already. And if you don’t know her, then I am positively giddy to introduce you to the fantastic Chris from The Mom Cafe. Chris is a genuinely lovely and gracious woman that I am honored to call a friend. Her words always inspire and bring a smile to my face and the story she has brought here today is no different.

Read on about the beautiful way Chris meets her children right where they are in the better part of parenting and then be sure to visit her at The Mom Cafe.

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The Better Part of Parenting…

My sweet and sensitive daughter is too scared to sleep alone, so she sleeps with her little brother every night. She is now in middle school, and one would think she is old enough to sleep on her own. And although her brother sometimes tries to reject her wishes, she begs and pleads and bribes him every single night. I help to support her case, while encouraging her to work through her fears. I too, plead and beg and sometimes bribe her brother- for the sake of my girl’s desperate fear.

Middle schoolers should be able to sleep on their own, right?

Not my Cassidy. She comes into my bed in the middle of the night trembling and crying, having had a nightmare or terrifying vision she just can’t shake.

I embrace her where she is and honor this very real and very raw piece of her that takes over and won’t relent.

I meet her here. In this place. Where’s she’s stuck. In this phase.

There’s no pushing.

Only the better part of parenting.

And I hope that someday?

She will find peace in her slumber. And the scary dark night will evolve into a haven for rest.

But until then?

I can only hope to help her through this long drawn out season of her life, and carry her through until it passes.

Some may question my choice in parenting.

“She’s old enough to sleep on her own by now!”

To that I agree.

Maybe even scoff with a fierce critique.

“Don’t you grow tired of having your pre-teen be so needy at night?”

Why yes I do.

But what lies beyond these challenges, is the better part of parenting…

I tend to my child’s needs, despite their ages and stages and worn and weary phases…

********************************

My son still asks me to help wipe his bottom. He’s now a third grader. He has been able, at times, to do it all on his own with sweet victory, but the messy times or moments of weakness still prevail. The discomfort he feels about this very act is real and raw. I honor this fragile and vulnerable part of him, because don’t we all have fragile and vulnerable parts in us?

He knows that I respect this challenging area in this little guy’s life. We don’t need to make it something shameful or claim it as disgrace. It is just a phase he grapples with, and there will surely come a time, when this will all be a humorous piece of history. Just yesterday I told him he promised to do it when he was FIVE, and then SIX, and then SEVEN, and then EIGHT, and now NINE! We all laughed uncontrollably at the lunacy of it all…

But I still meet him here. In this place. Where he’s stuck. In this phase.

There’s no pushing.

Only the better part of parenting.

And I know someday, my son will surely complete this act without a thought. I know he will overcome his angst at the mess and learn that dreaded finely tuned skill of cleaning it all up. It will slowly improve over time…

But until then?

I will carry him through this private process, until it passes.

Some may question my choices in parenting.

“Don’t you get tired of wiping his butt?”

Why yes I do.

Maybe even scoff with a fierce critique.

“He STILL doesn’t even wipe his butt alone?”

Why no he doesn’t.

But what lies beyond these challenges is the better part of parenting…

I tend to my child’s needs, despite their ages and stages and worn and weary phases…

*************************************

I’ve been stuck. In many stages. Far from where I should be.

And when I struggle- I long for my loved ones to honor just where I am and tend to my needs.

And so it seems, that in parenting these people I love most- I will always do the same. And as they grow through the countless stages and phases of life and seem to get stuck in certain places, I hope they know I will always and forever meet them there.

No pushing.

The better part of parenting.
~~~~~

Family
Chris Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing grade school kids. She has been writing at TheMomCafe.com for almost three years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration and faith. You can find her here. And here.  And here.  And here. And here.

32 Comments

  1. To be perfectly honest, Chris, I would have been one of the people who questioned (privately) your methods. But after reading this, I completely understand your perspective and I respect your decision to meet your children where they are. Sometimes it’s more difficult to parent gently, but I’m sure your kids are better off for it. Thank you for helping me see things a little differently – I’m going to try to focus on the better part of parenting.
    Dana recently posted..DIY Important Dates Wall ArtMy Profile

    • I love your honesty Dana!! Heck, I struggle with judging all the time- especially with something like a mom wiping her 8 year old’s BUTT!! But I truly believe there are some places that us moms need to tend to with a different ‘push’ and ‘perspective’. And Lord knows, I have had some phases I have been stuck in that didn’t deserve the gentle tending to-

      There is a fine line in this parenting gig. There are many things I ‘push’ with my kids… but also some of these tender spots that just seem so fragile and deeply intense for my kids, that I find myself stretching outside my own parenting expectations to meet them where they are at.

      I know for me, that’s when I felt most loved in my life. Most heard and valued. In my weakest moments- those who listened and honored where I was stuck.
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  2. I agree with Dana. Before reading this, I might have judged, but this really gave me a different understanding. I have often thought about how I parent each of my girls differently because their personalities are so different. However, I hadn’t really considered whether I’m meeting them where they are. Chris, you know I love you and this post is very powerful!
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted..Ten Things About Dad {Tuesday Ten LinkUp}My Profile

  3. It’s such a fine line to balance when to push and when to refrain from that push! These are two private instances that I would honestly judge myself had it not been ME! lol

    The’ better part’ of parenting to me, is parenting that challenges us to go beyond what we ‘would do’ and truly discern what is best for our children. I know, that they will get there- but I think they will feel more loved and respected and trust me, if I wasn’t shaming or pushing or punishing them where they’re stuck.

    My hope is that they will always seek me out when they are in the stuck private and vulnerable places in their lives. I can’t think of a better way to build that safe place than in these messy and difficult phases, where I accept and embrace them despite what the world expects.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  4. This is beautiful. No two kids are exactly alike. Just like us, they have our strengths and weaknesses. Times we need to be met where we can’t move forward without help. What message does it send our kids if their own parent can’t stop to meet them there?

    Physically, I do this too. I will walk behind the slowest kid. Keep them all in sight. Because that’s what we do, right?
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..Guest Post: Laurie of The Adventure of Writing, on What to Bring to My BarbecueMy Profile

    • I love that you get this Eli! I know it isn’t what many parents think is right- I certainly wasn’t raised this way!

      Thank you so so much for reading it and you are an inspiration for being the amazing parent that you are! I’m sure your girls will always and forever remember every gift you have given them in fatherhood. Lucky lucky girls.

      Good to see you! It’s been a while… :)
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  5. The sleeping part, I can truly relate to and have Lily at almost 4 still sometimes crawl into bed with me and would never turn her away, because to be honest, I too used to have nightmares and get scared as a child. My dad would always lay with me until I would fall back to sleep back then. So, to me, it is the least I can do and that is just part of being her mother and to me that is just that. Thank you for being so honest and sharing here today :)
    Janine Huldie recently posted..The Pin It Party – Week 58My Profile

  6. This makes me feel so glad. My kids are 28-18 and I swear I still find myself meeting them in places which feel daunting and maybe make me feel like I have failed. Or like I’m still in the process of failing. Overall, though? I raised kick-ass wonderful people. I’m so proud of each one of them. For their many accomplishments, but mostly for who they are. Who they are is very important to me.
    tammigirl recently posted..Why You Should Stop Reading BlogsMy Profile

  7. It’s all just so absolutely unique and personal and exclusive to who we are and who are children are, really. I measure my parenting success- not by if my child can sleep alone or wipe his butt. I measure it by discovering how they are growing in their hearts.

    I believe you do too. :)
    Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  8. You are a much more patient woman than I am! Thank you so much for this perspective b/c I don’t think I would have thought of parenting these challenges in this way.

    That’s one of the things like love about the blogging community, that it allows us to be us and rejects judgement.
    Stephanie recently posted..A Letter to J.K. RowlingMy Profile

    • Yeah- I have been judged by some of my decisions in parenting… but? I don’t feel any shame or remorse for loving my children exactly where they are at. Do I think my kid will call me to his college dorm to wipe his butt? Or my daughter will never sleep alone?

      these are fleeting phases. I would rather imbed in them a clear distinct relationship that says “I accept you, exactly as you are.” NOT “I will accept you if you get through this successfully. You SHOULD…. You’re not… You’re too… You’re unable..

      And I know they truly believe I respect them, and love them period. Always. Even and especially when- they fail and falter. Oh, how I wish I had a parent that loved me in my messes. Expectations can give messages of all kinds. I certainly expect a lot from them!! Just in these areas, and many others that are just so delicate… I would rather hold on to them while they try, than have them believe they are not worthy until they change.
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  9. It’s so easy to judge but no one walks in your shoes. I say enjoy these moments because you’re not going to college with your daughter or your son. They will figure it out in time. Right now they both need you. And that’s what it’s all about right! Hope you have a fabulous week! ((Hugs))

    • I always say that I’m certain I won’t have a call that asks me to drive to college to wipe his butt! It’s the big picture mentality!! And in that big picture, I would rather he live knowing his mom accepts and respects his needs right where he’s at- even when he is ‘failing and faltering and stuck’. I just pray he comes to me when he’s older and failing and faltering and stuck. I want to be in ‘it’ with him…
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  10. I’ve had comments over the years–from family and strangers–about meeting my kids where they are. I can understand how it might look to some, but to those who know and love my kids, I didn’t expect it.

    When I didn’t push the Girl to stop sucking her thumb, I heard about it. When the Boy still wanted to be tucked in and cuddled at night, I heard about it. But deep down, I didn’t care … Because I knew I was doing the right thing for my kids in that moment.

    Love this post, Chris! XOXO
    Real Life Parenting recently posted..Hymen Hysteria–Get Out of My Daughter’s VaginaMy Profile

    • EXACTLY. I often get the comments too… and at first it shook me. I questioned my decisions. And it was awful!! Now I am more confident and realize over and over again that my choices in parenting are the BEST choices for me and my kids.

      I wish I felt that way earlier when I truly needed it most. It’s amazing how much pressure people put on how you parent. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns on many issues. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      And I’m SO glad you did too. Why are people so fiercely forcing the idea of pushing kids and keeping track of their ‘stuff’ in life? Drives me crazy. Who CARES if so and so still lets her kid sleep with them… Who cares when exactly so and so stops sucking her thumb? I say- Good for ANY parent who feels really good about how they parent. PERIOD. God bless them, the end.
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  11. I honestly don’t even know when they should 100% wipe their own bottoms? Scarlet is four and sometimes it saves a lot of grief to just do it for her and do it well. If it’s still like that in five years? Well we’ll see.
    And she still sneaks into our bed sometimes at night. It’s not every night but it’s some nights. And (my) Cassidy says, “Well she won’t always do this. And we’ll miss this one day. So much.”
    So I meet him in the middle with this, and we meet her in the middle. Literally. In our bed. In between us. With the dog too.
    Tamara recently posted..Like a Hug and a Pint of Ben & Jerry’s After a Long Day..My Profile

    • I just don’t see why it’s even something of an issue- any of it. Parenting our kids is about each and every parent choosing for themselves what is best for their kids. PERIOD. End of story. Respect it. DONE.

      I certainly don’t care about butt wiping, or any stage being ‘passed’ on time. I think the best part of parenting is allowing your kid to grow in their own way in their own time. At least that’s how I see it.
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  12. Thank you for this, especially this day as I question whether we are pushing our girl or supporting her where she is. We, too, make room in our bed nightly as those sweet little feet pad their way into our room and all too often I have started thinking that we did wrong by her by allowing this for all these years. At the same time, I know that in the big scheme of life this is far too fleeting and to enjoy every snuggle.

    Tricia, thanks for a wonderful guest poster!

    • Embrace those sweet snuggles Tamara!!! Embrace each and every moment that comes whether it’s ‘acceptable’ to others or not. I am a believer in truly ‘listening’ to your child… meeting your child’s needs… and loving your child exactly where your child is.

      Parenting is so hard, confusing, and exhausting… trying to find the answers to how best to do this and that with your kids.

      I just don’t see how listening and honoring your kids’ needs could ever be wrong.

      (And every parent knows the difference between their ‘needs’ and their ‘wants’. THAT is an entirely different story!!)

      SO glad you read this today. :)
      Chris Carter recently posted..Love Cares, Love Helps, Love Lifts… The Weight We BearMy Profile

  13. Chris, thank you for your honesty. I haven’t been on this parenting path for that long, but I have been struggling with ‘there’ and ‘here’, with my oldest. Especially now that his little brother is surpassing him in some milestones with a 2 1/2 year age difference, I feel like I need to push him ‘there’. And the pushing is exhausting and soul breaking. Some days, it crushes me.

    I have to remind myself that he is who he is, and I love him. All of him. Here and now.
    Alison recently posted..Through The Lens Thursday #25: SmoothMy Profile

    • Alison- you speak my history in many ways sweet friend. Cade has always excelled in EVERYTHING… while Cass? Always behind and struggling. It’s heartbreaking really. And I have always had a mantra and a theme of working through it all with Cass-

      “You are fearfully and wonderfully made”- that God made her so special in her own way… He made her with such rare medical issues and struggles in her life for a purpose- and her light shines so differently than others because of what she has endured and achieved. Her experience in this world is designed to bring light to others- and how often we find that the people who endure the most seem to shine the brightest.

      She believes that and more. because every single day I have told her- she is fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of heaven and earth who thinks she is mighty perfect in His Eyes. I also tell her that she is one of God’s favorites. I think it’s true.

      PS: When Cade was 3 and Cass five- Cade kept begging me to ride a “big bike” all summer long. RIDICULOUS right? Cass hadn’t even learned how- because, well – it’s Cass. So Cade was relentless and Derek finally just took off his training wheels and Cade literally rode down the street up and down curbs and in and out of driveways with EASE. At three.

      Cass was still having accidents in her pants.

      Your kids? Both of them?

      They are fearfully and wonderfully made sweet friend. Each as their own.

      PS: Cass doesn’t have accidents any more, and Cade still needs me to wipe his butt. And Cass CAN ride a bike now… (See how that works?)
      Chris Carter recently posted..The Better Part of ParentingMy Profile

  14. There are so many judges out there and judgmental people are my least favorite people in this world, and they are often the most ignorant.

    But I also believe there are so many of us just like you, meeting our kids where they are at and just loving them there….I have one bed wetter, one with consistent bad dreams who comes to my bed, one with…., one with…..etc.. Many of us take great joy in being their safe place in their vulnerabilities. I know too well that holding that child in the middle of the night will pass so very quickly, I soak it up. I welcome it, LOVE being the ‘safe place’. I know that the bed wetter needs to not feel shame in her suffering and to know she can trust me and be loved and esteemed right through it. Kids need to know that ALL things do and will pass in their own time. I want them to learn that they can surround themselves with people who will not judge them wherever they are in life…those people are out there and abundant if you choose carefully who you connect with in this world.

    I smiled when I read the topic of this post because I just talked to a mom literally last night who has 14 and 16 yr old daughters who still sleep together every night because the 14 yr old still gets scared. I think it is precious that they find comfort in one another. Isn’t having people to feel safe with and rely on through this journey what is most important in any worthwhile relationship? That is what we are teaching our children when we can be that person for them…

  15. In yoga, when we say Namaste, we are basically honoring the other in front of us, for the place they are in at that moment. The good with the bad, the light with the dark, the neat with the messy. I love that you meet your kids where they are at. I want to be better at this. I do OK in some areas and not so OK in others. You’re my inspiration today to walk a little in their shoes. I love you Chris! (And you too Tricia! Excellent choice in guest writers!)
    Ilene recently posted..No Holding Back for AlexaMy Profile

    • It’s the hardest part of parenting… hence the ‘better part’. Walk in grace,my love. You deserve it and need it most. If I can lose it with my kids, and stumble and fail and falter every single day- how can YOU even manage to hold anything together the way you do!

      And yet- it’s a valuable thing this better part. If we really do reach in and stretch out and realize exactly where our children are…and why…and how… perhaps? It can and will inspire the deepest parts of our mother-love to withstand and endure and embrace them- and meet them there, in this place, where they’re stuck, in this phase, And try as best you (we) can to love them through it.
      Namaste.
      Namaste.
      Namaste.
      Chris Carter recently posted..The Better Part of ParentingMy Profile

  16. I often get frustrated with one-size-fits-all parenting advice because all children are truly different. Where one might need to be pushed, another needs the exact opposite. As the parents we are the ones who know what’s best for our particular children. Also, I really appreciate you acknowledging that yes, sometimes it is frustrating and difficult. Yes, sometimes you do wish your children were further along in these areas. But parental frustration is not a good reason to push them or rush them.
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..Feel Good Friday: Every Woman Has a StoryMy Profile

  17. When my kids were little, they all slept with us. And then when they slept in their rooms, they still would find their way into ours in the middle of the night. People thought we were nuts. “You’ll never get them out of your room,” they said. Of course they eventually stopped. There are certain things where we meet them where they are at, and maybe others we don’t do as well at. None of us are perfect.
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted..Plan Your Menu with Great Recipes at #FoodieFridays no.1My Profile

    • I have had the same comments and yet? I used to be so offended and hurt and it really used to make me question my judgment as a mom. The longer I’m in this gig, the more confident I feel about my choices. I certainly don’t do it perfectly, but gosh darnit I know my kids! Thanks for sharing your example Michelle. I totally get it. :)
      Chris Carter recently posted..What Do My Kids Want This Summer? More of Me…My Profile

  18. I have struggled in the past in meeting my kids where they are. Lately, it’s become easier. We’ll get past the struggles eventually. But I see that we do need to meet in that place to understand it and get out of it. People might judge, but they don’t know what’s best for our kids. Thanks for sharing this, Chris!
    another jennifer recently posted..Philanthropy Friday: My Day with PSIMy Profile

  19. Exactly Jennifer! If we don’t respect and try to understand them, how can we ask that of others in our own lives? We know what’s best and we also know our kids and truly get when to push and when to meet them there.
    Chris Carter recently posted..What Do My Kids Want This Summer? More of Me…My Profile

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