Living Arts Weekly: Learning to be a Parent

February 28, 2021

I like to think of motherhood as a great big adventure. You set off on a journey, you don’t really know how to navigate things, and you don’t exactly know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there.

Cynthia Rowley

My oldest son is about to turn 14 years old, and as all mamas, I can still remember him as a teeny-tiny one. Right away on the warmest days of spring I began taking him out to lie down on a blanket with me in our backyard. His tiny little arms jerking about would slow down as his gaze fixed upon the space beyond me, and his mouth formed a perfect ‘O’. We called this his “Look of Wonder.” He made that look many times in his first months of life, as if he was already in wonder at the world he was meeting. In those moments, it also felt like he could see something beautiful that I could no longer see myself, perhaps something of where he came before he reached this earthly realm.

From the first days of life, we can feel the other-worldliness of our babies. Over the first months and years, as they move into their bodies and begin experiencing the world through their physical senses, we can see them gradually waking up to it. Some babies, like my oldest, seem to hit the ground running, eager as can be to learn and get busy with all that surrounds them. Others seem to linger in the dreamy world of spirit, taking their sweet time getting around to crawling and walking. Both of these kinds of babies, and all the kinds in between, need so much from us it’s hard to know as a first time parent what exactly to do.

There is much to consider about feeding, diapering, and sleeping- and all that occupies most of your first days for sure. But what I remember most about being a new mother was my delight to watch him connect with the world, to experience it through his growing. He was just so darned eager to meet and do it all, it seemed. With my young adult energy, I was ready to help him.

I was fortunate that in all my enthusiasm to go wherever we wanted and do whatever we wanted even in his earliest days, he was such a naturally resilient fellow. I had enough wherewithal to balance out being at home and out-and-about, but otherwise I made no particular form or rhythm to our daily life. I really didn’t know much about what I was doing beyond feeding and diapering and it caught up to me by the time he was 2 ½ years old. By then he was a very articulate and heady little boy who had much more energy and zeal for exploring the world than his very pregnant mama, and not a lot of boundaries to contain him.

I was blessed to find LifeWays soon after my second son was born, and began learning about the wonderful incarnation process of children and how to suitably support it. There isn’t a time of life more full of growth than in the first three years, and there are many layers of development we can come to understand and nurture there. Luckily, most of what it takes we already have within us as loving parents. It’s certainly not an easy task, but it is an incredibly rewarding one. With just a basic understanding of child development, and a deep, intimate look at our own child we can see what they need to meet this world on their own time and thrive in it.

And when help is needed, there is always a course or two at LifeWays to assist in just what you need to care for children with confidence and joy!

Two LifeWays online courses are beginning soon to help you on your parenting journey! Click on the links for more details!

Birth to Three with Rahima Baldwin Dancy begins on March 10th:

Discipline with Loving Awareness, with Cynthia Aldinger, begins on March 3rd: