As a young mom of two girls, I’ve picked up a few nuggets of parenting wisdom which I try everyday to live by…
1. Every child is unique… Act accordingly.
My two girls are so very different from each other. Reese is quite temperamental and strong-willed—from the very moment she was born! Cate, on the other hand, is quite an easy and happy baby. Maybe Reese is in her terrible three’s and Cate hasn’t reached it yet; hence, the reason for the differences in their characters.
When my husband gets puzzled and asks me what we should do about Reese’s temper outbursts and how come Cate is so different, I have to explain to him that our two girls were probably born with different temperaments. We have to parent each child in a specific way… and to take things with them one day at a time.
2. It’s hard to be patient, but it’s the only way to go if one is to survive parenting.
Even while we were dating, I made it clear to my husband that I will never spank or hurt my children. And I will not allow him to do so either. That rule, then, became part of the family vision we drafted as we were preparing for our marriage. Thank God we committed ourselves to that! Because, to be honest, there have been many instances already that I have so wanted to spank Reese whenever she’d throw a tantrum or become unreasonable. But I have to keep remembering what a teacher-mentor had told me once, “When a child is fussy, the only thing we can control is our own reaction. What good would it do to hurt the child?” So, during heated situations between my preschooler and myself, I try my best to collect myself. And I try to see things from Reese’s perspective–as unreasonable as she may be. To be patient is a tall order, but it’s the best way to show my children how one can be in control of her emotions and reactions. I discipline my children, but I don’t think I can live with myself if I ever hurt them.
3. Choose your battles.
My house is not the neatest place, and I am not the most organized mother. When I was pregnant with Reese, I had already crafted rules and a schedule that we would follow to the letter. Once she was out, and followed two years later by Cate, I had to learn to choose my battles. So now, top priority is to make sure we all have three meals to eat. Then, I go with the flow the rest of the day. I teach my children to pack away after they play, but of course, the result is their version of “clean”, not Martha Stewart’s. And we sometimes stay up till late at night playing or reading books. In fairness, Reese knows her basic concepts already without my hardselling them to her. And Cate has developed a love for books. So, I must be doing some things right.
4. I cannot parent on my own.
Jack and I have kept our sanity so far because we have the support of other married couples. We’re able to run to some friends for advice. “Has this ever happened to you? How did you handle it?” And we get reassured all the time that what we are experiencing is normal. We likewise benefit from the perspective of couples who have been married much longer and have more children than we do. So, I know that I will survive motherhood because I am following in the footsteps of other women who are willing to teach me how.
5. I need to pray.
No matter how prepared I try to be for emergencies or worst-case scenarios, something always happens that leaves me no choice but to pray and ask God to take over. I find that, many times, I have to let go and let God take charge of my children and of me. One striking example was when I underwent a difficult pregnancy last year and had to stop working. Then, when I gave birth to Cate, she had to undergo an emergency procedure. I thought I had everything planned. But God had other plans. And He saved Cate’s life.
So, everyday, I try to do my best to take care of my little girls. And I try to let go and entrust everything else to Him.