Adventures in Parenting takes us into the life of an individual or couple who are currently (or have been) parents in order to get an idea of how they navigate their way through the process of raising up their children. So, here’s how this works. This week’s guests are Travis & Becky Ennis. I have provided them with a list of 25 or so questions of which they were instructed to choose five. This will serve as an interview of sorts with the conversation being, for the most part, of their choosing.
Let’s take a moment and get to know Travis & Becky.
Becky and Travis live in Central Illinois, and have been married for 21 years. They are raising 5 earthly children, while three more eagerly await them in heaven. Their family dynamic and adventures leave little time for anything else. Travis enjoys getting paid to play with dirt. (He works for a soil testing company.) Becky dreams of finishing her first inspirational fictional novel of her trilogy and hopes to one day soon be able to pursue a writing and speaking career. Their children keep them laughing and busy, but they wouldn’t trade the memories or the moments for anything.
Question #1: How did you feed your baby?
Choosing to feed your baby is no easy task. So you think breastfeeding is best, until you learn you can’t. Quickly your dreams are shattered, but you find your empathy has grown. Hi I’m Becky Ennis, and I was a breastfeeding mom for over seven years. No, they weren’t consecutive years, but I have spent seven plus years of my life leaking milk and providing nourishment to my five children. I’ve nursed a colicky baby while being told my daughter must be allergic to my milk. I felt defeated and alone, until I finally learned to stop listening to others, and start doing what was best for my children by exclusively breastfeeding for many months before introducing any other food to their systems.
I also received strange looks when I was still nursing a two and a half year old in my home, but here’s what I learned in my journey after thinking I wouldn’t be able to nurse my third child due to later milk production. If you’re caring about what is best for your child…you’re doing it right. I believe it’s time to drop the mommy hate, the woman comparison, and do what you think is best. If you are being the best mommy you can be to that baby, then you are doing great! If everyone tried breastfeeding, I think it would be great, but I also know that not every situation is the same. It’s time we start supporting our fellow mommies both in and out of the breast pumps and lanolin tubes! Keep up the good work mom! Being a mom is hard, but you’re doing great!
Question #2: How do you deal with picky eaters?
Having picky eaters is no easy struggle. Let’s imagine you’ve spent hours making a nice hot meal consisting of mashed potatoes, green beans, hot rolls, and meatloaf. Using hot pads, you sit the dinner on the table only to have your three and five year old turn up their noses and chant “meatloaf-beatloaf” as they adamantly refuse to eat. Been there….done that…but a friend once told me, they’ll eat when they’re hungry.
I’ve always said I’ll never fix two different meals in one setting, but a pediatrician reminded me, there are options that don’t require a ton of prep time. I took that idea one step further. My children never “HAD” to eat a meal that I cooked. There was an option of peanut butter and jelly or cheese and crackers, but they were required to retrieve it, make it, and put it away when they were done.
I realize, based on the age of your child, this may not ALWAYS be possible, but if they’re old enough to complain about it, I believe they’re old enough to do something about it, and how much more wonderful their life will be when they master new learning skills that require a tiny bit of independence!
Question #3: How do you feel about home birth?
Two ladies in the middle of a nightly Bible study discuss their lesson, as one very expectant mom thinks she might be in labor. Nightly contractions give way to a beautiful delivery of life in a swimming pool in the mother’s quiet living room in the wee morning hours. She’s crazy I thought to myself.
Having had 5 pregnancies that all had some type of umbilical cord issue, I knew how scary labor and delivery could be. My first child died due to an umbilical issue, so I didn’t think I would ever want to chance being away from a hospital to give birth. But when I became pregnant with my last child, I began to research home births and the beauty and convenience of being in your own home.
The cost of a home birth was much cheaper and more natural. Mother could move about as freely as she wanted, and eat small portioned-sized meals to maintain strength, rather than graze on seventeen cups of ice chips and clear fluids. As I researched, I began to feel a deep desire to have my baby in the comfort and serenity of my own home. I began to dream and research midwives in my area, but unfortunately, due to my state’s laws, there were none closer than four hours away.
Being my fifth and final child, I knew I wanted to experience something different. I prayed for it, but it never happened. It was safest for me to have my baby in a hospital where they could treat my positive strep b, and do an induction. I had been through 2 other horrendous inductions, so as a friend directed, I began to pray for the staff that would be assisting me. It was a wonderful experience, but I still feel like I missed out on one of the greatest, comforting choices I could have been a part of.
Question #4: Do you have a favorite child?
Yes, I have a favorite child! I’ll admit it! “What?” You may be screaming as your eyes bug out as you read. “You should NEVER do that.” But out of all five children, I do have favorites, because they are ALL my favorite in one way or another.
Here’s why. If I stop long enough to quit talking, bossing, directing, and watch how they are growing, I become amazed at the young people they are becoming. They each possess attributes that make them my favorite at that particular moment. As they grow and change, I believe God is crafting them into humans who have been designed in the image of their creator with special gifts and talents directed solely to them.
I look at my children and say, “You’re my favorite 15 year old,” and with a smile, they gently remind me that they are my only fifteen year old. Each season is a new step toward the next, and as they grow, I begin to see glimpses of who they are. When they’re performing and being who God created them to be, I become deeply impacted and eternally grateful for the wonderful things that I see in them.
I believe we all need cheerleaders, and if we will be willing to stop long enough and enjoy each stage of life our children are going through, we will be able to find some glorious and hidden gem that reminds us why, at that moment, they are our favorite!
Question #5: How good of a parent do you think you are?
Sometimes I suck, and sometimes being a parent is more job than one person can ever take. As a mom to five children, I’ve had my share of disappointment, disaster, and despair, but I’ve also found myself in winning moments. It seems so much easier to chastise ourselves for those moments that we seem to be losing, but even when we feel like we’re losing, we’re truly winning.
I feel like we all learn by taking away lessons from those losing moments, and changing them around for better ones to come. In our losing moments, there is always opportunity to apologize, change, and be vulnerable enough to tell our children how we messed up. That not only shows them that nobody is perfect, but it also sets a life long example for them in their moments of self disappointment and bad choices.
When we learn how to cut ourselves slack, drop the perfection persona, and learn to enjoy the families we’ve been given, no matter how imperfect, we truly are winning. You see winning isn’t about getting it right every time. Winning is about finding out how your kids work, and meeting them in their spot. Doing so provides comfort and trust in your relationship, and when you have trust, you are winning.
Will you win every single day? Heavens no, but don’t refuse to try just because you’re afraid of failing. The only way any of us truly lose is by not trying to connect at all. What kind of a parent am I? I’m okay….Can I do better? Sure I can….But for today…am I winning? I’m sure giving it a good old girl scout try so that counts for something right? Give yourself some slack. Believe in yourself. Do the very best you can, and if you don’t know how you’re doing, ask your kids. They’ll tell you!
And, that does it. I hope you all have enjoyed the interview and possibly gained some insight or ideas in regards to your own children. As always, feel free to keep the conversation going in the comment section below. Check back in next Friday for our next installment of Adventures in Parenting.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.