Raising Children – One Light Bulb Moment at a Time

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You do not want to miss hearing from the heart of Darcy Molina, one of our GMI missionaries who has served in several countries around the world and has a true heart of service to the Lord. Darcy is the mother of 6 children and has been asked to share about her experiences as a mom.

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Over the years I have had several light bulb moments in my parenting.  One was when Kaleb was a baby in the Philippines.  He was struggling with the time change that we had just experienced and was not falling asleep until 11:00pm and would wake up at least 5 or 6 times each night.  I read a book that told me that I was the one in charge of my son’s schedule (not him) and I was actually quite stunned that I hadn’t thought of this myself.  After a couple of rough nights (which were made a little bit harder by a well meaning family member who would stand outside his door and assure him that he was not forgotten (by his Lola at least), Kaleb was sleeping from 6:30pm until 6:30 the next morning without waking up at all.  Whew! This child raising thing was going to be ok afterall! 

Nine months later I had my second light bulb moment.  We were in a Manila mall waiting to fly back to the USA the next day and Kaleb, now 18 months old, ran away from me when I called him.  After chasing him around a busy food court I decided that I would never chase one of my children again.  That was the moment I realized that we needed to teach our kids first time obedience. 

My third light bulb moment was right after Andrew and Alissa were born and I realized that a baby can actually cry himself to sleep starting right at birth.  When the twins were just a few days old I was struggling with keeping them both happy…somebody always needed feeding, burping and changing and when I stopped taking care of one baby to soothe the other baby I ended up in tears and with two very grumpy babies.  By day four I decided to completely care for Baby A in the midst of Baby B’s complaints…feed, burp, change diaper and put in bed….and then do the same thing for Baby B even though Baby A complained loudly from her bed.  I discovered that a 4 day old baby would complain loudly from her bed for no more than 3 or 4 minutes before falling asleep as long as she was already fed, burped and dry.  Whew. Maybe I could handle this raising twin thing after all.  Over the next few months I also learned that when babies are put to bed in this way that won’t really want to be snuggled at sleeping time…they just want to be put in their own beds in their own rooms.  This made it a little bit tricky while visiting friends, family and churches… especially because Alissa had a cry that was sometimes referred to as a shriek when she wanted her bed.  So hard to believe that such a cute little bundle of joy could be so loud.

Anna was born the day after Kaleb turned four.  With Anna my light bulb moment happened when I realized that I couldn’t do it all.   I remember feeling like I was drowning in responsibilities… I was homeschooling Kaleb, I was trying to learn Portuguese, Andrew and Alissa were two years old and kept me busy scrubbing my makeup off their faces and my walls, and Anna, while we all agreed she was the perfect little angel, still needed the normal amount of care and time that a newborn baby generally requires.  At this point in my life I wasn’t so sure that I was doing so good at this mom thing.  Five years later (and now with a 9 year old, two 7 year olds, a 5 year old and twin 2 year olds)  I had another light bulb moment when I realized that I really couldn’t do it all… but that was okay.  We lived on a seminary campus and my kids might leave the house with messy faces and un-brushed hair sometimes but luckily they had a lot of Tias on campus who would scrub their faces and braid the girls’ hair if I had missed them before they got out the door to go and play with their friends.  My house might not have always been the tidiest, but our door was always open to visitors and we loved to entertain. 

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In Zambia my light bulb moment was realizing how much I could learn from the other families around me.  Maybe rules really were made to be broken!  Bedtimes changed, playtime with friends exceeded what I had thought would be a reasonable amount of time each day and the kids’ music preferences veered sharply away from the music that they listened to with me.  I started to depend on the older children to let me know if certain books or movies were suitable for the younger children.  I guess I started to let go.  It is hard to let go when you have been having light bulb moments for the past 15 years helping you keep it all together.

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So, here we are.  Kaleb is twenty, Andrew and Alissa are eighteen, Anna is sixteen and Joshua and Jonathan are thirteen.  I no longer have to scrub makeup from the walls, but I do sometimes still feel as if I am drowning.  If you listen close enough you might hear the words, “Stop playing with the soccer ball in the house!”  coming from my corner of the globe.   The other day I drove Kaleb back to school after spring break and I had my most recent light bulb moment in a Chinese restaurant.  After dropping his stuff off at his house he suggested that we have supper together before I headed back home.  I told him that I knew that he was eager to see his friends after the week long break and I would be fine just grabbing something on the road.  He insisted and we had a really nice meal together before I left.  As we visited and he tried to teach me all of the things that he is learning in school, I realized that this is a time to cherish.  My children will always be my children but what a joy it is when they also have become my friends.   Maybe this mothering thing will be okay after all.

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