Parenting 101: You Need A Yardstick

No one is ever fully prepared for parenting, but we try. We spend time with other parents and children, read books and articles, and throw showers in the name of preparation. No one told me I needed a yard stick.

Out of the handful of times my in-laws have visited since my boys were born, no less than 4 times my father in law has asked, “Do you have a yard stick?” No. No I did not. I offered him a ruler, which he informed me would not work. WHY?! No one told me I needed a yard stick.

My father in law has MANY yard sticks—and he uses them. He worked building prototypes and materials for Coleman and a NASA contractor, so it made sense.  He also sews blankets for babies in the pregnancy center, wins the Texas Chili Cookoff more often than not, whips up multiple flavors of home-made fudge every Christmas…and thankfully he doesn’t measure the increase my waistline after holiday visits.  My father in law is more of a Proverbs 31 woman than I am, truth be told. He’s also a rocket scientist…hence the yard stick.

“Measure twice, cut once” right? That would make sense. My left brain side LOVES the idea of precise measurement and knowing exactly where everything stands. I’m more of a measure 15 times, sneeze during the cut and then creatively fix it kind of gal.

I now know why I need a yard stick. For under-furniture-toy-retrieval, because at any given moment the underside of my couch looks like this:

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It would make sense to use the long yardstick to reach under and sweep for lost items.

Too much sense. Instead, the items I most often use are these:

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This year my left-brain is learning from my right-brain. The endless measurements and assessments involved in raising children are exhausting…especially when the measurements don’t ‘count’ or my child is on a separate chart and timeline (like everyone’s kid, by the way).

A doctor recently told me that I can’t use normal scales and charts to measure my kids; it will discourage me because they won’t measure up. Instead, I am supposed to use the adjusted chart.   I’m supposed to measure progress.

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That’s tricky. Not all progress goes in a straight trajectory.  We have a lot of set backs.  In October Secondborn was starting to sit. Now we are finally starting to sit again…in March. What a chart doesn’t show is the hours of hospital visits, painstaking feedings, tears, and therapy sessions to strengthen his muscles and soothe his tummy. Every week I make a list of things my kids did that show new skills or progress for when I get discouraged. (Sometimes I do it for myself too…like “I didn’t yell today!”)

Even progress is hard to measure in the moment. Between the “can’t” and “can” are the “working”, “becoming”, “transforming” and “striving”.

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The fact is that it’s hard to measure accurately. How we measure success, happiness, health etc. must be adjusted sometimes.

A 75 year old man I adore likes to ask me how I measure success. What does success look like to our family? He played football in high school for a Lubbock team that was ‘rebuilding’ for all four years. He quickly learned that he would be discouraged by measuring success in winning. Instead, he measured success by how well he played his position. He became one of the best defensive players in the district, even on a losing team.

Most of the women- especially moms- I know feel like they don’t measure up. Be encouraged; measurements are important, but they don’t have to be exact or standardized.Even we aren’t sure how we are measuring ourselves; how can we ever measure up?

**If you find someone in that position today, encourage that person!**

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I find that weights and measurements are almost always inaccurate. My son was weighed a few times in the same day and had a different weight on every scale. Only GOD’s measurements and weights are just. I can never measure if I am being a “good mom” accurately. Instead, I should be a GODLY mom- striving for holiness more than happiness.

Measurements are important. Standards are essential. They just need to be viewed in a bigger picture. As I was pondering the location on my yard stick today, I realized where it is. Last I saw, it was attached to a sign in the garage- the William’s Warriors from our Buddy Walk in November.  Perhaps that is one reason why I struggle with accurate measurement- it is hard to measure progress during the fight…when the yardstick is in the garage. At least I attached my mode of measurement to something worth celebrating and fighting for. I might not have the accurate measurements figured out, but at least I have a perfect Ruler.

 Today a stranger struck up a conversation with me in the grocery store. She commented that everyone in the store came over to admire my kid. “Everybody loves William! That is a wonderful thing! They change the world!”  I wish that were true and I hope he will, but I can’t measure that this side of Heaven. However, he has changed me. Every day my sons are molding me into a mom that loves more like Christ–and that is something no yard stick can measure.

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