It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
As some of you may know, I am a mother of three boys with a fourth baby due to arrive in late February. A young friend of mine, who just gave birth to her first baby recently, was lamenting some issues that had come up in her marriage since having the baby. Her questions made me reflect on those early days of motherhood and the effect on my marriage and my extended family. My husband and I faced some defining moments in our marriage. Those trials helped me to improve my relationship with those around me.
My oldest came into this world in March 2007. I was instantly in love. The delivery was challenging, but he was here. We were parents. It was a bit hard to believe at first, but there we were. Feeding challenges began almost immediately and persisted, and my hopes of being able to be able to breastfeed my son further faded quickly. So did my picturesque idea of what motherhood would be like. I came face to face with the fact that my plans mean very little to this baby, and his needs were going to determine our story, not my grand ideas. This may make me seem a bit selfish, and in truth it probably was, but I had read so many things about how to do the best thing for your baby, and I was failing at so many. As my son grew, we settled into our new normal and I began to understand how to love our life as it is, not as I imagined it would be. Our oldest ended up being a relatively easy baby, sleeping through the night at a very early age, only crying when he was hurt or hungry, and content to go with the flow. I began to gain confidence as a mother, a good thing, but also a dangerous thing in my relationship with others. I recall times when I argued with those I love over inconsequential things, with no better reason than it was the way I did things. I remember sometimes being angry with my husband or with others when they did not automatically understand my needs or the baby’s. I found myself frustrated over what I now see were very minor things. In loving my son, I sometimes forgot to extend love to others.
Time passed, and in November of 2009, our second son joined our family. I was certainly more confident going into the delivery of this second baby, although anxiety and fear over what the future held would sometimes creep in. When my second son came I was once again immediately in love. I never imagined loving two children as much as I loved the first. Our second son brought a whole new set of challenges, including being colicky and having a similar milk sensitivity our oldest son had. He did not sleep through the night until he was nearly 18 months old. This was certainly a challenging time for our family, but I learned so much from that time. As it became clear that I was going to be unable to parent our second the same way we did the first, I began to rely on others for help. I began to see that our new normal was just as good, probably better than our previous normal. Plus, I learned how to love those around me better! (There will be more on that in a bit.) Our family grew and so did I. I am thankful for the things I learned and blessed by the trials this time of life brought.
Finally, as we welcomed our third child in December of 2011, I was able to embrace the fact that this experience would be different. I would be able to recognize that there would be times when I was unprepared for what I faced, but with faith and help from loved ones, we would make it through. Our third child presented his own challenges and some that we had seen before, but we grew to love our new normal once again. As we look forward to welcoming our fourth child next year, we know there will be challenges, but we also know there will be abundant blessings and mercy as parents.
There have been times (and occasionally still are), where I reflected the woman spoken of in Proverbs 25:24, “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” I was the contentious woman. I could be quarrelsome, argumentative and unforgiving in my ways. I am sure this caused anger and frustration in my husband at times and certainly contributed to some of the hardships we faced as young parents. Fortunately, God showed me love and mercy, which I in turn learned to share with others, especially my husband. I have learned that most of my hurt feelings came from a misunderstanding or miscommunication. I am not saying my husband is perfect, and there were times when I would have to come to him with my concerns. Fortunately, my husband is an honest, godly man, who is able to be flexible and understanding in a situation and work with me for the good of our family and marriage. As a result of our communication, we have been able to deal with bigger problems with less frustration. The more I showed love and understanding, the more he felt inclined to do the same. We have always loved each other, but our love has grown far beyond what I ever thought possible, and I pray we continue to grow in our love in the future.
I am very fortunate that I have a husband that is willing and able to work with me as a parent. Not everyone has this. I am not so naive as to think all problems can be solved by a little kindness. However, I do think I feel more peace as a parent when I work to show love to everyone in my life, even if it does have to display itself differently for each person. I pray for those of you facing hardship in any relationship that you might find the peace God has for you. For those who read this and see a little of yourself in this, I pray that you may look beyond the want of a perfect life for your child/children and see the amazing love you can give to your children and others.