“I just don’t know what to do!”
My husband stood above me in the darkness as I lay in a crumpled heap on the floor next to my previously crying baby who was now staring at us with huge wide awake bug eyes.
“How can I help you?” he quietly said.
Future husbands of all future wives… if you’re reading this, tuck that phrase away in your pocket for later and use it, and mean it, often. You are welcome.
But in this particular case of the wide awake baby I didn’t know how he could help. I didn’t know how I could help. I didn’t know why this son of mine was wailing in the dark of night, yet again. I was so tired, so depleted, and so… all of the so’s.
This same scenario cyclically repeated itself over the years, but in different story forms as the behaviours and situations changed with the aging children.
But through it all, I eventually realized that I hated coming at parenting from the place of, “I just don’t know what to do.”
So one day I decided to change it.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” James 1:5
I did need that. So I did indeed ask. I asked back then, and last week, and yesterday, and I know I’ll ask again tomorrow.
I’ve asked for a lot of wisdom over the years raising these 4 boys, but I’ve also had to go seeking after it.. It’s kind of like ice cream… the more you ask for and get, the more you want… but you still have to go to the store to buy it.
And so I started reading. If this mom thing was going to be my full time job for the next 18+ years I was going to heartily invest myself in it.
Amazon started shipping me a lot of nice little brown cardboard boxes filled with books.
My husband at one point gently offered the sweet suggestion of, “What if… you read all of the books you have BEFORE you bought new ones?” (All of the readers who read multiple books at once all over the world gasped.)
There was wisdom in his words though, because it wasn’t about the amount of good books I had sitting on my shelf, it was about how often I read and used them. Kind of like that nice turquoise journaling Bible I have sitting on my nightstand. It makes no difference how pretty the leather on it looks if I’m not constantly opening it, and looking at and listening to the words inside.
The funny part is, I’m not sure if the wisdom I’ve gotten has ever been figuring out what that crying baby always needed. Often times, wisdom has looked a lot like:
- buying all of the best selection of Bible based parenting books and resources I can get my weary little fingers on, and gleaning good advice and strategies from the pages
- deciding to see the big picture of parenting
- learning to try something and see if it works and when it doesn’t, having the courage and perseverance to try something else
- taking a deep breath and thanking God for my working legs that I can walk on – to get to that crying baby in the dark of the night to see what all the fuss is about
This fall I started reading through Proverbs with my two oldest boys. We’re attempting to copy out one verse per chapter and then memorize those verses over the course of this year. What a valuable life lesson in seeking after wisdom for them, and also for this mama.
Solomon was talking to his son (how fitting) and apparently he was a little bit unruly (also totally fitting) and he simply says in the opening chapters, “My child, listen to me and tune your ears to wisdom, cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure,” or that tiny silver apple TV remote that always gets lost in the couch cushions. (Proverbs 2:3-4 with a loosely translated add-on)
I pray for it, but it doesn’t just immediately fall into my lap after. It takes work and effort on my part to search for it.
It requires me to push play on that podcast while I’m brushing my teeth and unloading the dishwasher.
It takes opening my Bible day after day, and reading through that pile of books on my shelf, often 3 minutes here and 4 minutes there, but sometimes 27 minutes at a time.
There is much more work to be done, and the work is often sandwiched between cereal pouring and table wiping. It’s loud and exciting, and 25% crazy… but one day when I get my Masters Degree in Motherhood, I’ll have four tall young men standing beside me, hopefully readying the barbecue for my graduation celebration.
But I’ll tell you what… it sure became easier to do the work once I decided that this was going to be the most worthwhile thing I ever get to do with my life, raising these boys to be men.
Photo by: Darren Lebeuf of Housestories Canada