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Title: Loving the Little Years
Author: Rachel Jankovic
For those of us currently surrounded by little ones, may I suggest Rachel Jankovic’s “Loving the Little Years.” Rachel says, “I didn’t write this book because mothering is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn’t” (12). I only had to read that much to know this was my kind of book! Her honest, yet hopeful, Christian perspective on how mother’s sacrifices are real and essential made me reflect on how I handle some of the day-to-day in my home. When Rachel wrote, “Christian child rearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge” (50), I paused and was reminded that while I might strive to perfect routines and schedules (which do help and matter), I need to remember the real task at hand, which is to love those small hands and anxious helpers. They are individuals seeking my love, attention, and approval. There is more to it than just keeping basic needs met and a stellar organized white board.
I also appreciate that Rachel reminds us that we are “laying the foundation” for a later time, when saying “no” or time-out won’t always do the trick (86). As Christian mothers we need to be striving to teach our children to love God’s law so that when they are free of our law, they “have learned to love God’s” (86). We are raising the next generation. What do we want them to be? They do need to be independent thinkers, but with a desire to do God’s will first and foremost.
Rachel challenges her readers to imagine themselves as one of their children. She calls this the “thought experiment” (68). This idea is not new, but Rachel describes it so candidly and accurately that one really does really start thinking, “What is it really like for my children? How do they really feel?” Our children deserve our honest evaluations followed by meaningful interactions that prove that they are our #1!
Parts I liked best:
While I have several favorite parts in this book, there is one section that I believe to be particularly worthwhile for mothers today. Society is busy; it teaches us to focus on self and wants us to believe we are not quite up to par. To this Rachel says, “If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast [marriage, motherhood] and now you don’t recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out–look at the people who made you what you are–your husband and your children. Study them. They are you. If you want to know yourself, concentrate on them” (61). While most mothers do value some quiet, alone time, it is important for us to remember that isn’t what we signed up for when we decided to have a family. That is an oxymoron! We get to discover things about ourselves through motherhood that we couldn’t have learned otherwise. We are “in the rock tumbler” (31) as Rachel calls it!
How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother (or why I just really liked it):
I enjoy reading Rachel’s writing as she is direct and real. While she is writing about three children in diapers and hearing toothpicks being dumped out, I’m reminded of my day–pulling a 17-month-old off of the table at least 10 times and wiping up countless spills made by the same little guy. Since the author is battling some of the same battles I am, I know I can relate to what she has to say. Yet, she has learned a lesson that I’m still striving to learn…that I can apply Christian principles to my mothering each and every day. I can recognize my faults, ask for forgiveness, and start over again tomorrow.
I also love this book because it is a mere 102 pages! I always love a book I can tackle in an evening and that I can refer to again and again.
I liked Rachel’s reminder that my children “are not a situation. They are individuals” (48). My children need me to see them as they are…individuals with their own likes and dislikes. I remember realizing that my kids were not appendages of me. They were their own people–period! I can’t lump them all together and assume I can address their situation with a one-size-fits-all approach. I’m learning each of their needs as I go and I need to take the time to “seek them out” (50).
Of the many lessons Rachel shares in her book, her desire to be a positive and ‘can-do’ kind of a mother is inspiring and uplifting. Accepting the new ‘normal’ of life with kids isn’t always easy, but it will allow us to experience a lasting joy that will outlive the challenges we face along the way.
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