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.