Loving the Little Years – Motherhood in the Trenches

I just finished an excellent little book – Loving the Little Years – Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. Rachel is “in the trenches” with five children five years old and under. She writes from the perspective of a mommy with her sleeves rolled up and working hard – not from one kicked back after raising her children and reminiscing about the “good old days!” Having four girls and a son including a set of twins, she and I share a heart for mothering as well as very similar family dynamics. As she described many Jankovic scenarios, I was reminded of many Jobelette “in the trenches” days about a decade ago!

This little 102 page book contains twenty essays that addressΒ  the heart of the mother before anything else. There are no chore charts, meal plans or checklists. This may strike young mommies as odd. Don’t all parenting books contain tips from the experts to make life with so many munchkins more manageable? Consider this quote, which stillΒ  spoke conviction into my heart though my 5 under 7 are now 15 down to 8…

“When Scripture says to bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is not talking about finding the most effective way to organize them. This is a very easy trap to fall in, because the more children you have the more difficult it is to keep them clean and clothed and fed. Just the basics of life are a full time job. … What you are doing is finding a way to contain your children, control them and keep their sin from making you look bad. But you are not actually dealing with anything. The fact that your children have learned to go with the household flow and do their chores does not in any way offset the fact that they spend all their available free time sulking in their room. Christian child rearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge. The more children you have, the more you need to be pastorally minded… If you are being a parent who is pastorally minded, you will stop whatever it is that you are doing to go see how your daughter is up in her bedroom.”

I call such bedroom checks “eternal time,” a term borrowed from a dear friend of mine. In taking time away from dinner prep, math homework or laundry, we’re focusing on the eternal living souls of our precious children. We are tending to our little lambs, making sure their hearts are ok. Eternal time can be terribly inconvenient – especially when there are lots of lambs to tend to and they are all hungry. Rachel makes the point that, if you are blessed to be the mother of many young ones, you must make special effort to see each child as an individual. Schedules and charts are fine and needed, but they can give a busy mother a false sense of security or success. Children quickly pick up that peace in the home matters more than peace in their spirit when the schedule is too highly valued. One observation that I have, as a mother of older children as well as a couple of littles, is that the older they are, the more eternal time they need. Teens and tweens don’t, by any means, have it “all figured out.” They also don’t go to bed at 8:00 allowing you to complete unfinished tasks. Thus, as the littles age, you get to sleep through the night which is wonderful, but you often have midnight counseling sessions πŸ™‚ Mothering gets easier in some ways and harder in others.

Rachel, in each of her essays, addresses the heart of the mother before the behavior or management of children. Unlike children, there is one thing that absolutely must be organized:

“The kids can be running like a bunch of hooligans through a house that appears to be at the bottom of a toaster, and yet, if organization and order can still be found in my attitude, we are doing well. But if my attitude falters, even in the midst of external order, so does everything else.”

I could not agree more. And that organized attitude starts with knowing where to find our peace!

Other topics you’ll read about in this little book are child training, the “bulk” effect (which comes with having many young ones at once), the physical scars of motherhood, little girl emotions, being “overwhelmed,” “me time,” and more! In reading it, I’ve been reminded of many “mothering in the trenches” moments, and I plan on sharing a few of them in the weeks to come.

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6 Responses to “Loving the Little Years – Motherhood in the Trenches”

  1. Daphne Says:

    Sounds like a great book – is there a copy of it in the homeschool library? I’d love to skim through it….I’m not much at reading cover to cover these days!!!

  2. Tina Says:

    Daphne, This is a brand new book so I’m quite certain it’s not in the HCCHS library. You are welcome to read my copy though πŸ™‚ I’m still taking a few notes, but I will get it to you soon!

  3. Kelly Says:

    Tina, thanks for this review! I’m going to have to look this book up, since, as you know, I am very much in the trenches these days! I often get caught up int the “organizing” trap. Today I actually took time for an “eternal moment” with my Sarah, and the only way I could diffuse her was to have her climb in my lap and just hug her like I did when she was a baby. Her heart finally softened and we had a good conversation after that. So this post was an encouragement to me to make sure I take advantage of those moments more often. Thanks for sharing!! πŸ™‚

  4. Tina Says:

    Kelly, You will love it! It’s a very short read too which is perfect when you have very little time to read. I actually devoured the whole book in sitting of about 2 hours! Oh, and I know about those moments when you just hug. Little girls are like that. They sometimes don’t understand their emotions at all and just need to be held.

    We need to chat again soon!

  5. Mama D's Dozen Says:

    Sounds like a great little book. I had my first 5 babies in 4 years.

    Even now … with 6 young adult children in their 20’s … I LOVE that I am still “in the trenches” with mamas of young ones. My closest friends are 20 years younger than I am, because my peers just don’t “get” my lifestyle.

    My young mama friends are THRILLED that I’m having a baby at 49. My peers … not so much.

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  6. Tina Says:

    Love it, Mama D! Wow! 5 in 4 years… I had 4 under 4 but then we slowed down a wee bit πŸ™‚ Babies are a blessing at any age πŸ™‚

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