I recently realized that I was about to run out of storage space on my phone due to having over 1000 pictures stored there. Oops. The three years of photos started with my now 6, 5, and 3 year olds as wee babies. How could I have already forgotten the way Hannah’s crazy toddler hair looked, Sarah’s tiny smily baby-ness, and Jack’s cheerful not-quite-two-year old greeting every day of “Gud mor-neen doe-leems!” (Good morning, darlings)? Now Hannah wants to fix her own hair, Sarah knows the alphabet, and Jack is a big boy who would like to be a pirate except that “pirates have to do a lot of sinning” so he’s going to be a sea diver and a cellist instead. It goes by in a breath, y’all.
It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the logistics and the mess and the hubbub of motherhood and forget to have this bigger perspective. Each moment comes and goes and seems fleeting, but they add up to a life. That’s why I really appreciate Rachel Jakovic’s book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches. It’s a short book, with short chapters, but each is packed with encouragement to be mindful and deliberate in how we handle those moments with our children.
I took over three typed pages of notes from this 102 page volume, and I’m sure that what jumps out at you will differ from what convicted me, but I will say that a few particular strengths of this book over other similar parenting/encouragement books are the reminders that:
- Your children are individuals, not a situation. When you have more than one kid, things can get overwhelming at times. Sometimes all of the questions or petty disobedience or even the preciousness comes at you all at once and you can forget that “the kids” are really individual people. They are not ganging up on you, they are just doing their thing. This perspective is elaborated in the book in some REALLY helpful ways that parents of multiple kids would find encouraging and thought provoking.
- Your heart is part of the problem. I thought Jankovic’s knack for pointing out the ways in which our own bad responses influence our children and our ability to teach them was particularly helpful and convicting. This is something you’ve probably read or heard before, but the book sets it out in a slightly different way that hit me more directly.
- Parenting is JOYFUL even though it is hard work. Jankovic closes the book quoting Ecclesiastes 5:19, which says that the ability to rejoice in our toil is a gift from God. Jankovic points out that joy is not freedom from work, but an attitude to have during work. That sense of joy pervades this book and is refreshing since the parenting genre can tend towards whininess or over-seriousness. I also think the joy in the trenches feeling in the book is inspiring and encouraging.
If you’re a parent, especially if you have or might have more than one child, I really recommend Loving the Little Years and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it.
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