I am NOT a parenting expert.

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Mistake #1: Impulse buying an Oreo milkshake during Happy Hour from Steak N’ Shake. (It was hot outside and sounded good. I promise we are mostly healthy eaters . . . )

Mistake #2: Buying this milkshake right before grocery shopping at Walmart with my 15-month-old in tow. Bad idea all around . . . 

Mistake #3: Letting my screaming 15-month-old have a sip. This sip then turned into several long–DON’T YOU TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME MOM BECAUSE I WILL SCREAM BLOODY MURDER–sips. Who knew she would like an Oreo milkshake so much! 😉

Mistake #4: Giving in and letting her suck down a third of my milkshake because I didn’t want her screaming. And then finally prying it out of her hands because I found strangers’ frowns and judgmental looks more embarrassing. After a couple minutes of whining and screaming I distracted her with a bag of frozen vegetables. She likes to play with them.

***I am SO NOT a parenting expert***

I have a bad tendency to sometimes come off as a know-it-all. I am also a “fixer,” which means I can love to give advice. From time to time I think this comes out in my writing, and it is an attitude I have to keep in check in my relationships. Because, let’s face it–it can be annoying. But, please, please, don’t mistake me for a parenting expert!

Now, I am not completely worthless. I am passionate about healthy marriages and healthy families. My husband and I have worked together in youth ministry for over four years now. If we have learned one thing in those four years, it is that what happens at home is crucial. I also read, study, and listen to Christian parenting speakers and writers. I love to learn and share ideas. Mitch and I seek out mentors for our marriage and family. We take notes of what spiritually healthy families do. But we are not experts at all.

Fellow moms, I am in the trenches with you. My days also involve sticky fingers, stinky diapers, “How did that get there?” and “Don’t play with the diaper pail!” toddler conversations.

Somedays I would award my parenting abilities a big fat “F”. Other days I actually feel good. On average I would give myself a B or B+. But I am far from perfect. There are a lot of things you could nitpick. We don’t normally eat organic foods. Sometimes we allow Rebekah to have ice cream or other treats. We get tired and cranky. However, we are trying our best and leaning on the grace and guidance of God day by day.

So, when I do share reflections on parenting or ideas–take them for what they are: Thoughts From a Fellow Mom. And that is what I love about the “mom blogs” I follow. Those blogs are moms sharing their struggles, but also their successes and ideas that work for them. Just because something worked for them, it doesn’t guarantee it will work for our family. However it is another perspective to consider and an idea we can put in our arsenal to try.

Blogs that share about motherhood should also be about community and support. We can relate to one another and share our stories and experiences–even if they are different. For example, I love to share about our empowering homebirth experience, but I by no means cast judgement on anyone else’s birth choices. If you chose to do a scheduled c-section, hospital birth, breastfeed, or use formula–great! There is no judgement for you here. We may have a c-section in the future–I don’t know what lies ahead. My prayer and focus for this blog is that your family and mine are engaged in loving each other and loving God.

So, may we all extend some grace to each other and remember that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” style to parenting. And, really, what qualifies an expert? I know Mitch and I seek out couples we admire who are a further down the road of life. But does that make them experts? Probably not. Maybe more “experienced” would be a better way to phrase it. So, take what makes sense to you and works for you and leave the rest.

And in case you are wondering what happened to my Oreo milkshake, I snuck it back into the car and drank it quietly on the way home. Yay for rear-facing carseats–Rebekah never knew! 😉