uncharted territory: parenting your firstborn(s)

Crash test dummy. that's what I compare a firstborn child to. You think before you become a parent you know exactly how you'll parent. So you go around judging [under your breath] every time you make contact with an unruly child of an unassuming stranger in public. "My child will never act like that" you say quietly to yourself. Or you just give "the look" and walk away shaking your head thinking of all the ways you would do a better job.

And then.....allllll that goes out the window after that first sleepless night. "Wait a second?!!...you mean parenting isn't exactly like what I saw on those Johnson & Johnson commercials?!!! You know the ones where the baby is so blissful and calm and the mother has angel wings and heavenly beams of light radiating from her face and its just moments of cuddling and pure ecstasy?!....you mean, that's.not.TRUE?!"

And then months later, you're brain is still reeling at the fact that this motherhood thing really isn't like those commercials, you realize: "this little human is SINFUL!!!" And now the real parenting begins. So you seek help in the best places you know to look as a new mom: you 'google it', you try to be invited into a mothering support group on Facebook, you read blogs and seek advice from seasoned mothers, and if the answers you're seeking aren't found in "What To Expect:The First Year" or "What To Expect:The Toddler Years", you may panic.

One thing I've learned on this mothering journey is that our firstborn(s) will always be that sort of crash test dummy. We've never parented a child at this particular stage and age before and it is very much so an uncharted territory. Have I ever parented an almost 7 year old boy before? No. Do I know what I'm doing? No. But do I trust that God does and that He has given me the grace to explore and enjoy this "new land" with His help? Absolutely! He's entrusted me with this gift....a child that I may fail with more times than with his siblings. A child that I'm constantly learning to be a better parent to. A child that unknowingly stretches and grows and strengthens me as both a parent and an individual. This child taught me the meaning of sacrifice, unconditional love, and unselfishness. He taught me how to nurture, what joy is, and showed me in a human way just how crazy God must be about me.

So you may wish sometimes: "if I could go back I would {.....} with my first", but instead focus on the journey you've had together so far. You've taught each other a lot. That child made you a mother. And that's the greatest thing in the world.

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My firstborn and I. Summer 2007.<3

-Alicia