Thursday, September 22, 2011

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

As moms in need of mercy, we care about being good moms, we desire to become better moms. As we grow in Christ and seek to become more godly mothers, we find there's always at least one area where we can work to improve.

In this journey of sanctification, resources like blogs and books that meet us where we're at when we're struggling and inspire us to new heights are treasured gems. They renew our vision and refresh our spirits. 

That's how I felt when I came across a copy of Loving The Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic--a young mother of five, ages five and under. Reading this book felt like having a heart-to-heart talk with a great friend or mentor, where what they say just clicks, and you go away encouraged and motivated.

The book is a quick, but deeply enriching, read. Chapters are short--like reading blog posts. As Rachel writes, it's a "loose collection of thoughts on mothering young children--for when you are motivated, for when you are discouraged, for the times when discipline seems fruitless, and for when you are just plain old tired."

My only complaint is I found it a little too short in places. I wish she would have elaborated more on some topics and flushed out more practical suggestions in areas, such as dealing with the chaos that comes along with multiple little children. However, as Christians, we have a relationship with Christ and fellow believers, the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help instruct us and guide us in wisdom.

I'd love to share with you everything I loved about this book, but that would require more space than this post allows. So here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the book:
  • "As you deal with your children, deal with yourself always and first. This is what it looks like and feels like to walk with God as a mother."
  • The spirit in which we correct our children: "When they disobey, do you talk about your own hurt? Are you pointing to all the work that you have to do now that they screwed up? Do you want to elaborate at all on how bad, bad, bad that particular thing was?...Now try thinking of discipline as a different kind of nourishment--a sweet means of grace to your children."
  • "Flunking" a bad day: '"Child number one was a huge pill all day. Child number two was crying and fussing and fighting with child number one. children three and four were just as bad, but I don't know what they were doing, but everyone was terrible, terrible terrible...A F minus for the whole class...'" (she follows with a challenging conviction to moms on what to do if days like that have been happening a bit too often.)
  • Helpful tips for teaching kids to manage their emotions
  • Encouragement to renew our perspective on mothering. Do we feel overwhelmed? Rachel writes, "God gave me to do this. I may not be overwhelmed about it. I can try as hard as I can, and maybe fail sometimes. I can try as hard as I can and fall asleep at the dinner table. I can try as hard as I can and be completely burned out at the end of the day. But I may not be overwhelmed. Actually, I may be overwhelmed, but I may not say that I am overwhelmed! The words have a real power over us."
  • Great points for not blowing our tops when multiple children are doing multiple things at the simultaneous time. (This section inspired this post).
  • A fresh perspective on "me" time
  • Dealing with the "ambiguous restlessness in the house" during a time of change (such as giving up naps). Rachel writes that it's only a problem when Mom refuses to have a growth spurt herself and suggests Mom finds a creative way to deal with the new needs.
  • Thinking of yourself as a "racquetball court": taking the blows our children send our way and not bouncing them back at them, but absorbing them and finding ways to soften them.
  • Suggestions on sibling rivalry and handling the all-too-common fights over toys
  • A challenge to get rid of the alarm clock when you have a nursing baby. Do we really need to know how much we were up with the baby and how little sleep we got?
  • A beautiful section on teaching expectations and instilling obedience: "God will give you the kind of overwhelming joy that cannot remember the details. Motherhood is hard work. It is repetitious and often times menial. Accept it. Rejoice in it..."
I came away from reading this book feeling like Rachel was a kindred spirit, the kind of friend where you sit and have coffee while the children play and you have a great (but often interrupted) conversation about the real meat of mothering: our hearts, and how to find God's mercy in all the messy moments.

Reading the book was such a blessing to me, I'd like to offer the same experience to you. Cannon Press has graciously agreed to give away two copies of the book (US and Canada entries only, please.) I will draw two random winners next week Thursday. If you'd like to win, please leave a comment on this post, including your contact information. Winners will have 24 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.


  1. I'd love to win a copy of this book! k.a.adams13 at gmail dot com

  2. I would to read this book, it has been on my amazon wish list.

  3. This sounds like an interesting book. prjschug [at] gmail [dot] com

  4. Oh, do I ever need a copy of this...wish I had it to read today. My 2 and 4 year old boys are starting to learn that mischief is oh-so-much more fun when done together! This is very challenging at the end of hubby's week-long work

  5. This looks like a good one! Thanks.

  6. Our 7th child finally arrived and the last two days have been so very challenging! I could definitely be helped by reading this book.

  7. I have a 5 year old, 3 year old, and a 10 week old...sounds like this book would be very applicable! My email address is

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  9. Thank you for your review of this book! I've hear good things about it, but haven't purchased it yet since I put myself on a book buying restriction! LOL

  10. This book sounds wonderful! I am due with baby #4 and my oldest is 4 so it sounds like I have a lot in common with the author!

  11. This sounds like a book I need to read! Thanks for the review.

  12. I would love this book as well! I love reading your blogs too Cheryl! They are such an inspiration...

  13. This book sounds great. I am finding with a new baby 10 years after my last baby I am definitely in need of some encouragement.

  14. I'd love to win a copy! I've got four littles six and under. I could use some mentoring especially for grace under pressure. :)

  15. What a timely review, I'd just been looking at this book and wondering if I should buy it! Of course I'd love to win a copy! ;) donutmolly at yahoo dot com

  16. This sounds like a wonderful (and needed!) book. Thank you for the great giveaway!
    ast0812 at yahoo dot com

  17. I'd love to win a copy of this book.

    kristencwiseman at yahoo dot com

  18. Sounds Great! Thanks!

  19. This sounds like a wonderful book. I have 2 children ages 3 years & 12 months. It's been a great struggle for me to adjust to 2 little one. Thank you.

    ayoungcoupon (at) gmail (dot) com

  20. It is good to know that as a mom of little ones, we are never alone with the struggles we face day in and day out! Sounds like a good read to me!
    aleshia at harr dot org

  21. I would LOVE to read this! Two littles under three right now and I can't shake the feeling that we should start working on a third, even if I am a bit overwhelmed every day!

  22. Hi Cheryl,

    Hope you are doing well! I don't need a copy of the book, not because I don't need it, but because I already have a copy and am on my second time through it. It is perfect for the quiet moments during nursing. Loved the book and have been recommending it to other moms of little ones too. Found for me that is often far less their problem, and much more likely a problem in my own attitude and heart. We live out the "bulk effect" daily, and understanding it really has changed my perspective and patience!

  23. I'm a little late on posting for this but wow I will have to pick up this book...I know I'm not supposed to use the word over_____ but I could use some fresh perspective indeed. God is good and I know being a mom has given me windows into who I am.For that I am greatful. Thank u Lord for the blessings of raising your little ones. -wendie