mothering little ones

 

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I find myself contemplating the end of my *mothering preschoolers* stage of life.  Since the age of 21 I have been caring for my own darling tiny children, truly, the work of raising them up has been the joy and purpose of my life, so far.   I know that mothering never ends as long as I have children to love, but there is something so sweet and tender about the preschool years.

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I’ve loved all seven of them with a love that surprised me.  When I wrapped my arms around them and held them close, breathed them in, it did something to me that I will always remember.  Does God give children to us because they need us or because we need them?  Oh how much I have learned in being a mama.

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Now that the older six are in school, it is just Sarah and me at home during the day.

(I’ve given her a bath this morning.  Her hair is pulled back in a pony tail now, and she has a sparkly elastic headband around her hair.  It has five stars on it.   She’s sitting on the couch looking at one of her brother’s Star Wars books.  We’re listening to Elizabeth Mitchell music.  “You are my flower, you’re blooming there for me.”

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She just put the book aside.  “There’s no girl in this book.”  she complained.)

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We went for a walk on Friday and she was crying at the end of it because she was tired, but we enjoyed it anyway and talked about it together all weekend.  Three of our four cats came with us and I realized that next year at this time, when Sarah Joy is in Kindergarten, I’ll probably be filling up this blog with pictures of my cats.

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As Sarah and I walked, the cats ran past us and one time Sarah almost got knocked over by Billy.  If we stopped, they stopped, or climbed a tree.  They chased each other and did unexpected things.  Walking with Sarah and three cats felt a little bit like 5 years ago, walking through the woods with five little ones and a baby in my arms.  (when I was still homeschooling)

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We saw some mushrooms.  It had rained the day before so they were damp.  This one was so very shiny that we bent to touch it’s top and discovered it was very slimy.  When we lifted our finger off it a string of thick goo came up, too.

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My friend Bobby Jo asked me recently if I had ever seen a “fairy ring” of mushrooms and we came close on this walk.  I suppose you could call this a “fairy half-ring”.

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And then we saw several of these on the trail under the oak trees in the forest.

Puff ball in Aspic or, “calostroma cinnabarinum”

SO interesting!!

It was the first time I observed them at this stage, just ready to PUFF for us.

Sarah had such fun pinching each one over and over until all the puff was gone, the round orange tops were dry and felt similar to thin rubber.

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I carried acorns and other little forest things home in the pocket of my shirt (now surrounding a pillar candle).  Sarah worried about losing the cats and eventually gave way to tears.  Thankfully she got tired within sight of the house and with some encouragement and we all made it home for a nice nap.

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“Oh Lord, thank you for the life you have given me.  Help me in the sadness I feel in the ending of these busy years of mothering tiny children.  Help me to feel contentment and gratitude that it happened, and not grieve too much, that it’s almost over.  Help me to remember that these years have not been easy and there is much to be glad about in moving on to the next stage, such as never having to buy diapers again, (which is all I can think of at the moment).    Thank you that in mothering the helpless I have learned so much about YOU, because that is what you do for me.  In my weakness you make me strong.  When I am hungry you feed me.  When I am thirsty you give me drink.  When I am sad you comfort me.   You are my rock and my salvation, I honor and praise you, Jesus.  Amen”

“Children are not angels, and yet they bring from heaven to earth many fragments of loveliness.  Their influence in a home is a benediction.  They soften hearts and change the whole thought of life in their parents.  It is no more of self.  They begin to live for their children.  The children open love’s chambers.  They train their parents in patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness.  While a young child is in a home a school of heaven is set up there.”  J.R. Miller

8 thoughts on “mothering little ones

  1. I can sense your emotions in this post, and yet, all I can think about is what kind of magic you have that you can take CATS on walks with you? Is it you that’s magic or the cats? Or the child?? lol

  2. Shanda, thanks for sharing your heart so beautifully (i don´t know if it´s correct to write beautifully… please forgive).I would like to ask you something, why are you guys not homeschooling anymore? I ask you because we´re thinking about this to our family… and maybe there are some points we´re not considering in our decision, and in my own view it´s important to know the other side to take the decision properly! Thanks for your time and patience! And i love your blog! It´s so “calm” to read it, and brings me the peace between the brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Thanks, Carol

    1. Hi Carol! We decided to stop because frankly it was too hard for me once I had seven children. My husband works long hours and wasn’t able to participate. I sometimes wish that I could still homeschool the younger ones but they love school and we feel it is best for them to go. Thank you for the question and I’m so glad you enjoy the blog! ~Shanda

      1. Hi Shanda, thanks… after I sent my message i thought the same… maybe it was hard to teach all them. We have 3 kids and it´s not common here in Argentina to homeschool. So we have a long path to walk with this. But thank you for sharing. Blessings, Carol

  3. I Love that last quote- especially the phrase ‘school of heaven.’ That is how I feel too about my little ones they truly carry fragments of heaven and are making us parents be better people. It is something I never really thought about before kids came along. I just always knew I wanted them!

    Thanks for sharing the mushroom photo- I love it and showed my oldest! We learned that the fairy ring will possibly show up again more fully completed in future years if it is not disturbed. So keep your eyes out!

  4. You are so right, it is a special time when little ones are tiny and at home. You all have such a warm, rich, home life, that the time with your children will continue through all their years, both at home and grown. We can say that is a beautiful benefit and blessing. And you still have many in those wonder years of childhood! I love having grand sons to love, though they are all too far away. Thankfully they are super goofy and fun on Skype, so they feel close to us when they can visit. Lovely woods and quotes 🙂 hugs. Jenny

  5. I remember having those same thoughts when our youngest were the age of your Sarah Joy. They are now 30 years old and I wonder where the time has gone. So now I sit at my desk and make my little journaling bits, enjoying the memories as each season comes and goes. Blessings on you, dear.

  6. Shanda, You communicated your thoughts and emotions so well in this post. I don’t share the same grief you have over the end of the tiny years, (although I do miss the small arms around my neck), but I am beginning to sense the looming (terrifying?) shape of grief as the older ones approach adulthood.

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