Spirit-Led Parenting: We All Have a Story

Today Megan and Laura are going to introduce us to their book Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year.

 

Story is where it all begins.

Seven years ago on an internet message board, stories from new mothers poured forth. And somewhere in the midst of all of the piecing together of strips and strands of material that would eventually blanket those of us who gathered on that board in a warm, quilt-y friendship, two women recognized in each other’s story the same patterns and threads that had constructed her own.

Laura and I share a friendship that is firmly planted in the new way of making friends. Gone are the days of the neighborhood coffee klatch; now we pour a warm cup of coffee and sit down with our screens where the invitation is open to engage with not just the woman down the street, but the one across the country and the one on the other side of the world.

And so though I lived in Texas at the time and Laura was in Indiana, when we shared our stories in the relative privacy of this forum and found ourselves nodding along furiously as we read the words of the other.

Oh, wow! You too? Yes! Me too.

For us, the first months of mothering were difficult and dark. As anyone who has weathered those everything-is-upside-down, nothing-will-ever-be-right-
again days and nights knows, this is fairly common to the experience of parenting. For us, though, there was an added element of guilt and pressure and fear.

We both had been handed copies of books by friends we know and trust, both had been assured that everything we could have ever needed to know about parenting a newborn would be found in the pages of those books. And so long before we knew each other, our feet traveled similar paths, desperately trying to make a program work, to fit into a spot on the parenting paradigm that seemed to come with such ease for our friends, convinced that if only we could follow the instructions of the books, our marriages would be strengthened and our babies would be the little dreams-come-true we had always imagined they would be.

But nothing worked the way it should have worked. Nothing looked the way the book promised it would look.

And that’s our story – a story of struggle against fear and failure before God illuminated for us an approach to parenting that ultimately allowed us to experience great freedom.

But that’s far from the end of the story. Years passed from our earliest struggles and eventual epiphany, and we gradually worked up the courage to share our stories, what we thought were just our own unique experiences, with bigger audiences. Through blogging, we gathered in cozy coffee klatches of keyboard clicks and the safety offered by the screen, and we began to tell our stories to others.

We didn’t know what to expect, and so you can imagine that we were overwhelmed with how many people responded with

Oh, wow! You too? Yes! Me too.

For years, we listened to story after story shared with us by other parents, and when all of the story-telling couldn’t be confined to comment boxes and Facebook comments, we gathered our words and the words of others to create Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year.

And the stories keep coming. From Amazon reviews to book club gatherings to blog post comments to private emails, we continue to hear from parents who are eager to tell their own story of initiation in parenting. And in that way, publishing this book has allowed us the privilege of a whole new mission: to create a safe place for parents to tell their own stories, the stories of being fresh and shiny and new parents, the stories of angst and anger and growth and renewal.

We are thankful to Jessica for hosting the first stop of this blog book tour today, and it is here in this space where all things real and unvarnished are welcome that we ask you to share a bit of your story.

As you reflect back on parenting through the first year of childhood, how did reality meet your expectations? Did you feel there were areas you failed your child, your partner, or yourself? Did you feel there were ways you rose above even your loftiest views of what you could handle?

We would be honored to hear your story today.

Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters.

Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.

Comments

  1. We are at 9 1/2 months in our first year of childhood and I don’t know if I can even comment on how reality met expectations. Looking back, I’m not even sure I can remember what my expectations were – which probably means my reality is COMPLETELY different than what we expected.

    Some days I feel like a total failure – like I have no idea what my precious little one needs or wants. I do everything differently than “the books” say to … nothing seems to work for us. She nurses to sleep almost every night (and most naps too), she won’t nap in a crib (thank goodness for the Ergo), she’s only semi-interested in real food, and she does NOT like to be left with anyone other than Mommy or Daddy.

    But – the moment that we accepted that life as our reality – the life where we only go places with baby in tow, the life where we don’t worry about what other people think, the life where we follow our guts and do what our heart says – it was at that moment that I, as a new mom, felt like I could do this. And I could do it greatly. I can, by the grace of God, handle anything.

    I wrote a little about this in my own review of the book: http://www.soulmunchies.com/spirit-led-parenting/

    Thanks for hosting this!!

    • Crystal,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! I know that for me, accepting the reality of what IS instead of trying to create a reality that was never going to happen with my oldest child was a huge, huge key to finding peace.

      Thank you so much for the kind words in your review. I tried to leave a comment on the post, but it looks like it didn’t go through. I so value and cherish your thoughts on our book. It fills my heart up to know that the encouragement to seek God’s direction instead of appeasing the voices of so many others truly transformed your parenting. So humbled and incredibly grateful for your thoughtful review!

      • Thanks Megan! I don’t know why the comments aren’t working on the post, but I’m so thankful you read it! I am just getting back from a new mom’s small group where we’re talking about this book – and although we are all living very different parenting styles, we all agree that seeking God’s direction makes everything WAY easier. And more peaceful.

  2. I cannot tell you how much I loved your book, I can honestly say it’s the first parenting book (other than yours of course Jessica) I’ve found that was truely non-judgmental.

    I read it when it very first came out with a few friends who also had young kids and it was so great to be able to connect to others over the frusteration at “one size fits all” parenting advice (although I feel like the advice, nay… demands, I was hearing were at the far opposite ends of the ones you heard). My biggest surprise in parenting was my ability to rise above what others thought and do what was best for our family regardless of the opinions of the peanut gallery, and hearing your stories of how you did the same helped a lot.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Jenna! I think the hardest part – especially with that first baby, but in some ways every time we enter into the newborn trenches – is having the confidence to know you don’t HAVE to listen to the advice of others. I love what you said – that we can rise above what we think (or know!) others are thinking, and that we can really tune in to what God has for wisdom for that baby, for that moment.

      Again, thank you so much for sharing your experience in that!

  3. I’ve just started blogging about my foundations of parenting (my firstborn turns 15 years tomorrow) and how it took me on a very hard/steep path. I wish I had of known then what I know now but I didn’t have anyone in my life who was able to mentor me in a gentle way. My journey into parenthood brought up my own childhood hurts (doesn’t it for most of us?) and so led me into years of depression, pain and then hard work and eventually healing. Thankfully I have been able to have some more children after that healing had occurred and now been able to parent gently and relearn everything I believed was required of a parent. 4 children over a 13.5 year age gap allows you that luxury … it’s so much easier and better now, for all my kids!

    • Michelle – it is SO INTERESTING that you mention that – how parenting brings childhood hurts to the surface – because we definitely touch on that later in the book. I’m so glad you brought that up because you are so right – I think most people begin to really navigate childhood stuff (good and bad) once they become parents.

      So glad to hear yours has been a journey to healthiness and healing. Thank you for sharing that!

  4. I think what was hard for me about the first year of parenthood was my expectation that if I just did things right, better, different or perfectly that my life would be easier. But with my second, I expected it to be hard, it was hard, and I was gloriously relieved not be beating myself up about it.
    I also found how much I needed to mature as a person to parent. That was terrifically humbling, but I’m grateful for it.

    • Absolutely, yes. If we allow it in our lives, those hard, hard days and nights of parenting the littlest of humans is such an invitation to growth and maturity. I love how you stated that. It’s something that we can fight against and push against, but surrendering to it with humility is so very rewarding. Thanks, Heather!

  5. This is exactly what I needed today. My daughter is 6 1/2 now and it took me until this summer to come to the place where I could say NO. No more “christian” parenting books. No more “advice” from friends who had done it before. No more plans, schedules, crying it out, spanking, yelling, mean mommy. It was actually from reading Sarah Bessey’s blog that I feel in love with the Spirit Led parenting. I haven’t read this book but I would really love too. My daughter and I have had a really rough road. I have been single from the very beginning. I walked away from her abusive dad at 16 weeks, still addicted to drugs. I gave my life to Christ a week later and stopped using. My support were parents who believed that “spare the rod spoil the child” was the only biblical way to correctly punish and raise your child. Anything else and they would surely be damned to hell. So when I gave birth, I was a tired, still messed up 25 year old I was like “what the hell do I do with this baby” I had NO foundation AT ALL. Hence all the influence people felt that they needed to give me as a single mother in the church. Uh yeah… It SO didn’t work. 5 years later I had an angry kid and a still messed up mommy. Yet now I feel a growth in my spirit. That “those books” are just going to trample us down and not raise us up the way to Spirit would have us be. I do the things He calls me to do, the way He calls me to raise her, the way He calls me to discipline her. I’m pretty sure to those on the outside it looks pretty WACK! but it’s working for us.
    I so wish this book had been written 7 years ago. That 7 years ago, I could have sat down at a computer and joined this group of women looking for a different way. BTW where is this group of women? I need to find them. The ones I have here think I’m wack…….as mentioned above :-)

    • It’s really, really hard to parent against the mainstream of any given culture – and honestly, I think parenting against church culture can be the most challenging because there is that added layer of guilt. The whole “this is the way GOD wants you to parent! DUN DUN DUN.” You know? So more than just standing up to well-meaning (ahem) friends, family, doctors, whatever, you feel like you might have to take a stand against the Bible!

      But of course, that isn’t true. And that’s the heart of our book, a book that was born in the midst of pushing back against what was popular in our church culture at the time.

      And yes, Sarah Bessey has written beautiful things on gentle mothering that inspire me to seek that path more and more, no matter how different it makes me from other moms in my circles.

      Thank you for sharing your story, Bethany.

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