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Reflections on our days with one child

 Last year a friend asked me this question:  "I was wondering if
you had your time over what you would have enjoyed more or done
differently when you only had one child." Here is my answer.

In the short space of time in which I had only one child, I am glad that I  . . .

* Always aimed to "redeem the time", knowing that future days could be much busier. I did this even before the second pregnancy when Elnathan was nine months old, but especially afterwards!

* Mainly devoted nap times to things like education research and completing craft projects, or to necessary rest and cleaning. God is kind to many of us as mothers in gradually removing that time for personal pursuits. It seems like a luxury now that I used to set aside half an hour a day, at a set time during a nap, to email/blogging/ necessary Internet activities like paying bills. However, at the time that was actually a way of "redeeming the time" through limiting Internet use to that time. It seems like even more of a luxury that I used to have an uninterrupted hour or so to work on quilts. However, now when I look around the house I am extremely grateful to have these projects completed and adorning the home. It really lifts the spirits to see their colourful beauty. Our goal must be to love God and love others with whatever time and resources we have available, and I did that to the best of my ability at that time.

* Established a flexible routine for Nate that was invaluable when Mercy came, including room time, nap, and DVD time.

* Always allowed him lots of freedom outdoors to touch the dirt or inspect garden veggies after they were picked, or roam the house.

My regrets from this one child stage include . . .

* Comparing myself with other mothers and getting upset because they could do more physically, or do things faster, or feeling guilty because I had more time free for non-essentials. As you know, chronic pain limits how much I can lift my child, clean the house, and much more! So comparisons were foolish. I am still trying to gain the skill of learning from others, and their example, without comparing myself to them. I think it is important not to compare ourselves to other mothers, but to rather seek to use our situation to the glory of God. Sometimes Mums say "you only have time for that because you have x number of children, or your children are x age". The truth is that our circumstances are all so different that it is hard to compare! It is not wise to try (see  2 Corinthians 10:12). A Mum with only one difficult baby may have less available time than a Mum of three peaceful children in a good routine. Our job is to encourage each other in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. We are to embrace our own circumstances and really apply ourselves to making the best of them. I often fall short of this goal, and have to repent, but I do believe that it is important to try not to compare ourselves to others. It would be better to point other Mums to God's word or simply to encourage whatever good they are doing.

* Spending very little time playing with my tiny boy. I read to him a lot but rarely just stopped to interact with him in his simple play.

* Saying "no" to Elnathan many times a day, and encouraging very little. Much of my attention toward him was negative. Thankfully I began to recognise this error around 20 months, and change, but some damage was done.

* I observed/heard about a parenting philosophy in which you left things out (like bins) to train the child not to touch them. Now I wish that I'd just put them away and minimised temptations for him. At one point we were trying to teach him not to pull any books off the shelf, but we were much better off once we gave him his own shelf. He was so happy with that, and left our books alone! "Do unto others" comes to mind. How would I want to be treated if I was a toddling baby just discovering the world? Training in obedience is vital, but we don't need to do that with unnecessary temptations. More recently I listened to Doug Wilson talks (http://www.canonwired.com/sermons/sermon-loving-little-ones-i-luke-171-2/) on loving little ones. He encourages parents to have as few rules as possible, but to enforce them rigorously. Our home should be a garden - think of the Garden of Eden, there was only one thing they were not to take!

* It would have been good to spend more time writing out a vision or philosophy for homemaking and parenting, while I had the time. This may have held me steadier during difficult periods. Now I want to do it but time is scarcer!

* Not establishing regular times for Dave and I to have "dates" at home or elsewhere in which we focused deliberately on building our marriage and listening to one another. We got by well with one child. Later with the second child we discovered after breaches occurred that we needed focused time. Establishing this pattern earlier may have averted pain later.

Faith  – (July 3, 2013 at 10:47 PM)  

I enjoyed your thoughts! I remember keeping bins out (we used plastic ones and one wicker basket of books) when our girls were toddlers/preschoolers and it taught them to pick up their own things (was easy as they only had to place in bin, no certain way on a shelf) and to feel a sense of ownership for their own things. I played a LOT with my oldest but when the 2nd girl came along 5 yrs later I didn't play with her as much. that is one thing i do regret although she is fine. Parenting is an ongoing process for sure and I love how you say not to compare our selves with other moms. SOOOO true. I learned that about half way through the first year when so many of my friends just didn't "get" why I chose cotton diapers and to breast feed for the first year. We just can't compare. Plus every baby is different just like every mom is different. I am guessing you are enjoying your time with your children. God bless you!

Anna  – (July 8, 2013 at 7:07 AM)  

Such wonderful wisdom! Thank you for sharing. I agree with making few rules and enforcing them strictly. I try so hard to remind myself too about what type of behavior I want my kids to reflect now and as the grow. It is so very easy to get caught up in accomplishment type behaviors and miss what we should be emphasizing: A love for Christ and obedience unto Him.
I love everything you write and have learned so much for women like you as I grow in the Lord. Thank you so much for using your scarce time to blog. :)

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