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    Step Two: Figure it Out

    May 16, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I know that yesterday I said that some things simply have to be gotten through. And I do believe that. Some transitions in life are a lot like grief. After a while, the absence of something {or the presence of something new, like a baby} becomes normal. For me, it takes about four months to feel accustomed to having a new little person around. For others, it takes longer. I wonder if twins would take eight months? Hmmm…

    Anyhow, I can feel the emails coming, the ones asking me if I really mean that women should just stay home and be miserable forever. Well, first of all, most of us grew up and left home, so the idea that it is forever is a bit of an exaggeration. But I get the point.

    In my worst moments, I can be a very A-or-B Person. What I mean is, I am blind to any other options but A-or-B. This is what is going on when the situation is framed in terms of {A} I can stay home and be miserable forever, or {B} I can go to work and make it better. It is Si who always teaches me that there is always a C, and perhaps even a D option.

    I say, No! You do not stay home and be miserable. You stay home and make it better. Talk to your husband. Make a plan. Do research. Figure it out.

    Let’s take the colicky baby. I have never had one. But I did have a child that teethed for three months straight and I thought that by the end of it I was literally going to die from a combination of exhaustion and frustration. I think the way a mom feels when going through a situation where the child is practically inconsolable is pretty much the same. Frustrated. Sad. Tired. And ready to quit.

    But let’s brainstorm. Some “colicky” babies really are cranky. But some are actually dealing with acid reflux caused by an intolerance to certain proteins in their mother’s diet that are transferred to them during breastfeeding. Sometimes, Mom can adjust her diet. Mom can actually take a prescription drug that helps break down the proteins before they reach her milk! Baby can take a prescription (though this should be a last resort in my opinion). Some “colicky” babies aren’t getting enough sleep, aren’t being held enough, are being held too much and they just want down, etc. I’m not saying I have the answer, I am only saying that sometimes there is an answer. It has taken me some time to learn to seek out the solution instead of wallow in my own frustration and self-pity.

    In regards to my teether, in retrospect, I would have kept him out of the church nursery. I have learned that he easily caught colds when teething, probably because of the open wounds in his mouth when the teeth were breaking through. He is a horrible bear when he is coming down with something. Had I kept him out in the sun and away from other children during that time, it probably would have helped.

    But instead I held him. He cried. I cried. And we are still alive to talk about it. We simply got through it.

    I remember one day telling Si I was quitting my job as Mommy and going back to work. I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t handle the constant sense of failure. I wanted to do something for me. I. I. I. Me. Me. Me.

    He gently talked me out of it, and here I am, now happy at home and laughing a bit at my Old Self. But I realize that my heart was not to fix the problem. It was to escape the problem. Fixing the problem means the problem subsides, or even disappears completely. Escaping the problem means the problem will still be there.

    The same Bible that says that children are a blessing also says that the child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. The same Bible that says that a man who fears the LORD is blessed by having a fruitful wife who brings forth many children also says that a foolish son is a grief to his mother. I am not trying to say that every problem with children is a direct result of improper parenting, I am only saying that the Bible acknowledges that children can be far less than a blessing at times. Proper parenting and good problem solving are necessary for a happy home.

    The act of having children does not necessarily beget a happy home. Sometimes our home isn’t happy. And I and my husband have to figure it out.

    Instructions for mothering?

    Step One: Perseverance.

    Step Two: Figure it Out.

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