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Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

I laid my 21 month old son down for his nap and hopped in bed for some shut eye myself. About five minute later I hear my three month old daughter stirring. She won't settle, although she is obviously tired and has only had forty five minutes sleep. Dummy gets rejected. I feed her and put her back to bed. Wow, she stays quiet. I go back to bed and doze. 15 minutes later I hear my son crying, a sure sign her hasn't had enough sleep. I lie down with him and sing, resting beside him until he sleeps as well. I observe the garden quilt on the wall and wonder how I ever had time to do that. Oh, that is right - I didn't have a newborn! Then I hear baby girl fussing again. Oh, maybe that is enough rest for one day? So even though she is quiet again I've given up on sleep myself and come out to share a book that may bless you if you are also in the midst of the "little years".

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic is a precious book for those of us in this season. It is suitably small, and has suitably short chapters! Rachel had five children five and under, including twins, so she has lots of experience with tiny people. She seems to loves a clean and tidy house, peaceful children, and time to do craft projects as much as I do, but also has lots of recommendations for how to thrive when things are not just as we would like. Loving the Little Years gets to the heart of what we need to focus on in these years. Here is a snippet that convicted me:

"Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organisational challenge . . . If you are focused on the upkeep of the house and the schedule, as long as your child is not interrupting, you don't worry about it. If you are being pastorally minded, you will stop whatever it is that you are doing to see how your daughter is up in her bedroom." 

Children are precious. They are blessings from God. They are also, in their little years, a great deal of hard work. I am sure there are some people who find it easy to love being a mother in these years, just like there are some people who have pain-free childbirth. The rest of us will have to work at it. Almost every day, I ask myself "how can I love being a mother?" and "how can I be a joyful mother?". Often I look for organisational solutions. I spend my days wondering if I swapped DVD time with room time, or did more puzzles, my son would stop squealing at the dinner table. Or if I got Mercy up to feed her at 6 instead of 7, could I somehow manipulate her into sleeping when I want to nap and read in the afternoon? Hmmm . . . I'm gradually realizing that if I want to enjoy motherhood, my attitude matters much more than my schedule. I need to enjoy the baby when she won't sleep. I need to cherish cuddling up with my son on his bed while I put him back to sleep. I need to be ready to sit and read to my boy when nothing else will calm him. Slowly, I'm trying to learn to relax in the midst of the work rather than waiting and hoping for that elusive quiet evening that never comes because baby won't sleep until 9pm! 

I will leave you with an encouraging quote from Loving the Little Years, as my babies are still quiet and I'm off to see if I can get some more shut eye.
  ". . . if you accept your lot and rejoice in your toil, God will give you the kind of overwhelming joy that cannot remember the details. Motherhood is hard work. It is repetitive and often times menial. Accept it. Rejoice in it. This is your toil. Right here. Those are their faces."

Loving the Little Years is available from Canon Press.

Mel Gaebler –   – (February 24, 2011 at 5:52 PM)  

Well Sherrin I think you are on to something here! What a great sounding book, even though I have older ones I am definately still in the trenches with little one's too! The book sounds very encouraging - might just have to pick up a copy as I will need reminding of these things more & more as we are blessed with another 'little one' soon! Where is a good place to purchase this from? God bless.

Christina  – (February 24, 2011 at 9:51 PM)  

Maybe Trev has it? I want it too!

Sherrin  – (February 25, 2011 at 4:23 PM)  

Hello Mel & Christina,
Thanks for commenting!
I borrowed my copy from Evelina. Unfortunately Anselm Study House is not selling it as yet, so I think you would have to buy it direct from Canon Press. They do ship internationally but I believe the price is quite high.

Sandy  – (February 25, 2011 at 7:34 PM)  

What an encouragement... will store that in my bank of wisdom and hope and prayer it is brought to rememberance in a few months time!! Humbling going into the last months of pregnancy and not being able to complete the lists of things that I usde to do with ease!! I am sure more humbling will come as i have to lay down more lists and ask for more help!! But attitude is the key word... and i am grateful to have a little one incubating inside of me... Love to you all xxx Sandy

Mel Gaebler –   – (February 26, 2011 at 3:45 PM)  

Thanks for letting me know where to get this book. I ordered 1 from christianbooks.com for $9.49 & $10.00 shipping - just for anyone who might want to know another option instead of Canon Press? I know that the shipping is more than the book, but some added wisdom & encouragement is usually worth the price tag!

Anna  – (March 1, 2011 at 8:30 AM)  

A little window into another mom's day is such a blessing for me these days. It makes me feel like I'm not so alone. :)
I completely understand how having two little ones (or more) is just bouncing from child to child taking care of someone's need just in time to handle a new one for the next child.
I can really relate to questioning yourself. "If I had done this would he have gone to bed without crying?" Thanks so much for this post. :) Praying that God will strengthen and rejuvenate you each day.

Deb  – (March 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM)  

Sherrin ~ I can so identify with the baby stage you're at right now. It brings back lots of memories. When my oldest was 4 1/2, my youngest was born. That doesn't mean there was a 4 1/2 year age gap...it means that the newborn also had a 13 month old brother and a 2 1/2 year old sister in between her and the oldest 4 1/2 year old brother. I look back now and wonder how in the world everything got done...but it did. And I only have good memories and wish I could do it all over again--but not at this age but 30 years younger!! When the Lord brings you to mind, I will definitely be praying for stamina and strength (and sleep!) for you. Thanks for your post.

Susannah  – (March 20, 2011 at 9:13 AM)  

Hi Sherrin, Yes that book is a fabulous read--highly recommended. Rachel provides some great biblical insight into the younger years which can be so trying at times. Glad you enjoyed the read Sherrin :-). I also loved her sense of humour!! See you soon. Trev is in the process of ordering it and will cost around AUD12 including postage.

Mrs. H  – (November 1, 2011 at 1:09 AM)  

Thank you so much for your review of this book. I found it while doing a Google search of the book title. I am thinking about buying it. I have a 12 month old son and feel all these things you are describing. I feel so inadequate and am constantly feeling like I am messing my son up!! I need this kind of encouragement that you and this book you read just brought me. Thank you!!

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