What We Never Tell You On Social Media About Our Daughter

She cries almost every night when we put her in the crib and leave the room.

We bribe her not to cry by promising she can watch Thomas the next morning if she doesn’t.

At present she is working through separation anxiety and follows us everywhere, even to the toilet.

We tell her not to kick and she kicks.

We tell her not to throw her food and she throws it.

We tell her not to run away and she runs faster.

We tell her we love her and she responds with “I don’t love you.”

Instead of asking for one drink in the morning she often asks for 3, with just the right amount of ice cubes.

She threatens to take her diaper off.

She will often try and touch her own poop.

She won’t peacefully go inside after being out on the swing until the swing has stopped moving completely.

But you know what?

That’s all part of being 2 and working through boundaries. Learning what is acceptable and what isn’t. Learning what is wrong and what is right.

Learning to laugh.

Learning to cry.

Learning to love.

Learning to live.

I know, I know. Everyone likes to post about the funny moments, the touching moments.

The beautiful moments.

The moments you are proud of and want to remember forever.

We never post about the stressful moments because, to put it frankly, who wants to even go on social media when they’re stressed? Or tired…if I’m tired and  have free time, I sleep.

I don’t want you to think I’m a bad parent.

I don’t want you to think my daughter’s a bad kid.

I don’t want you to see the real family behind the social media curtain.

But the truth is, all parents struggle, no kid is perfect, and I’m okay with you knowing we aren’t either. We all need each other and if I’m not open enough to be honest enough about my struggles then how can I ever expect you to be vulnerable.

So here’s to vulnerability, and here’s to parenting.

Here’s to being a father and figuring out as I go.

Because every meltdown, breakdown, throw down is worth it for the prayers, the love, the kindness of E learning to love and discovering just who God created her to be.

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Who Really Knows How To Parent?

I read a fascinating article today.  In summary, it covers parenting decisions over nap time in nordic countries.

The basic premise of the Swedes, “A little fresh air never hurt anyone” happens to be something I heartily agree with.

But I’m sure having toddlers nap in sub freezing temperatures is controversial in America.

Anyone approaching being a parent these days has to face an avalanche of judgment. If  they don’t read it themselves they will surely hear about study after study and book after book of the ‘best way’ to do it.

The reality is that every child is different and every family is different. A baby’s personality and temperament are as unique as you and I.

What I’ve discovered is that routine is important because it breeds safety, but what that routine is can change from baby to baby. How you feed them, change them and put them to sleep is up to you.

Just as along as it works.

What are some things that have worked for you and your children? I would love to hear about them.

It’s 6am And She Won’t Sleep

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Heather had been up half the night, either because of my coughing, or Elianna coughing. At 6am I rolled out of bed, congested, with my wife asking if I could rock Elianna. Sure, I thought, no problem.

We don’t normally have this problem at 6 am. For a few days Elianna had been sick so she needed a little more help calming down when she woke up spluttering from coughs, sneezes and her own congestion.

Let me also be clear – I’m aware 6am is easy compared to 2am, or 3.

As I walked into the room she sat cross legged, one pacifier in her mouth and the other two in her hands. The first trick which came to mind was to lay her back on her side and leave. It didn’t work. So I picked her up and rocked her. She cried for 20 minutes, which is nothing compared to some children, but a lot for this one while she’s being rocked.

It bothered me a little but then she quieted down and I found myself praying softly as her gaze became distant and her eyelids began to droop. This is one of my favorite times and as she gets older they are becoming fewer and further in between.

It made me think back to the first few months when I rocked and bounced her while she screamed and we couldn’t figure out what was upsetting her. Back then I was desperate for Elianna to fall asleep and give the household some rest. I remember waking in the morning barely able to function but I also remember my doctor’s sweet advice. “Value those nights that you’re awake at 2am, before long you’ll look back and realize you shouldn’t have wished them away. They’re precious.”

I remember thinking – they could have been precious if she hadn’t been crying.

Now there is not as much time for prayer as she lies in my arms, or before bed as she drifts to sleep. Already there is not as much reliance on me as a father helping to bring her peace and calm. She’s mostly learned to self soothe and that’s a good thing. My hope is that I made the most of these times and will make most of these times in the future. Even if they are few.

I’m certain my whispered prayers and silent songs have, and will, make a difference.

You Can Go But Be Back Soon

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I’ve been part of many missions trips, and I live the best part of 1 ocean, 1 continent and another half continent away from my parents. I’m used to leaving.

This time is different.

It’s not bad, it’s just different.

There’s something about leaving a 14 month behind that tugs at the heart strings a little more firmly.

Last night I had a dream and I was thankful for it. In the dream I was able to pray first with Heather and then with my daughter. When I awoke I remembered the dreams and the prayers very clearly. I count this a blessing from God. It gave me a lot of peace.

When my daughter awoke this morning she walked out of her bedroom carrying a book. She loves books but rarely does this. The book was entitled “The best daddy of all.” I smiled and said another “thank you” to God.

It led me to a greater understanding of military families. I don’t know how a father can say goodbye for 6 months to serve his country and essentially protect me. If you’re in a military family I thank you. 11 days is difficult enough.

Purpose helps immensely. I’m going to train people who change lives in Kenya. It’s worth while, it’s life changing and I fully believe it’s eternal. Eternal work. Eternally impacting.

I know others travel a lot more than I, but I don’t think this in anyway reduces this feeling I am experiencing of leaving. It’s a good thing. As my friend Bill reminded me on facebook, “They’re the best reasons for you to to be sure to come home safely.”

The words of my pastor have also been in my mind all day. “You’re not the ultimate provider for your family, your heavenly father is.” I believe that, and although I’m sad to go, I’m happy to know it’s only 11 days and my family is in safe hands.

Moments For you

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We have a Facebook group of close friends and family that we share pictures and video’s of Elianna with. These are precious moments of development stages, funny things she does etc. Not everything gets put on there though. Sometimes we’re too late to the camera, or sometimes we just want to sit back and enjoy the moment with Elianna.

Today she was thumping her chest like a gorilla, pirouetting as she watches herself in the gleam of the fireside doors and waving goodbye as she walks down the hallway; no doubt copying what her parents do before they leave the house.

These are times that can’t be re run. They’re ours. Don’t miss out on the moments because you’re too busy trying to capture them.

Food For Thought

A few weeks ago a friend left a Facebook post asking about how to help their little one eat more vegetables. I remember thinking at the time that Elianna eats those packets that are liquidated vegetables. At the time she was  in some cases ‘drinking’ three of them a day. I’m not sure if that many is healthy or not but I was just thankful we could put some veg in her. She eats meat and fruit no problem but very rarely will she eat vegetables unless they are in those packets.

Until the other day.

Suddenly she wanted the vegetables that were still somewhat mushy but almost solid. Heather turned to me and said, “Is she eating vegetables?” I nodded, I had found some in the cupboard and just put them in front of her and she started to eat them with a spoon. It was completely out of the blue but for the last few days she has been eating these.

It’s another reminder not to stress about these things. There’s a certain doctor we sometimes visit and we feel like those visits are more stressful than helpful. When we visit the clinic we usually try to see another doctor that we really like but occasionally we end up with this one. In his mind everything with a child must be so regimented that if you don’t reach certain points by certain age ranges there’s a big problem. To be honest, all the visit does is produce worry and questioning. At least for my part.

I’m convinced every baby develops in their own way, with their own way of thinking, eating and progressing. The last thing I want to do is have the joy of being a parent removed by the stress of a modern health system and society.

I’m in for the adventure, how about you?