Here is the truth I’m now able to see: there are some seasons in parenthood that we just rejoice with gratitude that we made it through them!
Have you ever had someone stop you with your many kids in tow just to comment on how you want to make sure you enjoy this time because it goes so fast? The idea they are trying to convey is one hundred percent true: when raising kids, the days are long, but the years often feel so short. But I think that when this comment is made in passing, it often places a lot of undue stress and pressure on young moms doing their best to get through the day, let alone make sure they savor every fleeting moment with their young ones. I know that for me, this idea that I need to make the most of every moment caused me a lot of anxiety.
As I’ve grown up a bit as a mom, I’ve started to be able to look back some, appreciate the seasons we’ve been through, and better assess the season we are in. Each age and stage with your kids comes with new joys and challenges. Here is the truth I’m now able to see: there are some seasons in parenthood that we just rejoice with gratitude that we made it through them! We know we didn’t do everything just right, we know it was harder than we could have ever been ready for, but also, these time frames are still gifts to us.
Each tougher season of parenthood grows our resilience, teaches us valuable lessons about love, and shows us that our families are worth fighting for. They are chances to hear from the Lord and go to him in prayer because we see we are unable to carry the parenting load without his help.
These times give us valuable perspective, too! If our kids were always well-behaved angels, we’d never be able to empathize with our fellow parenting friends. We see the struggle and weight that comes with the role of raising sinful humans; it’s not an easy job. When something eases in our home, we also grow a greater level of gratitude for those more peaceful moments.
On the Tough Days as a Parent, Give Yourself Permission to Just Make it Through the Day
When your family is in a season of change, typically, everyone and everything gets a little chaotic. Seasons of great change could look like a family move, a change in jobs or schedules, shifts in your marriage relationship, changes in how you educate your children, or an addition to the family. I’ve found that these are the moments that I have to extend myself and my children a lot more grace. We may not realize it at the moment, but we are all stretching and growing as our world shifts in a tangible way. As parents, we have to remember that our humanity struggles with the new, we may also enjoy it, but no matter what, settling into our circumstances is often messy and emotional.
This past year, we added a sweet two-year-old daughter to our crew. For some reason, despite her being number five and knowing she had been through a lot, I did not anticipate how much of an adjustment this would be for us all. My expectations did not match the reality of our choices. How often do we struggle to recognize our own need for grace as parents?
She has been in our family for about a year now, and I am starting to feel like our house is finding a rhythm. We are seeing healing happen, attachments grow, anxiety wane, and we are better able to anticipate each other's triggers and struggles. I am so grateful that we made it through this past year.
I am reminded that while I would not want to go and live it again, while I made mistakes along the way, and we undoubtedly still have more learning to do, showing up each day and meeting my kids' needs was winning! Many days over the course of this past year, I barely made it to my bed without feeling burdened and undone. I was not ever-present or full of creativity; there were too many fast-food meals and a lot of tears, yet we all made it 365 days as a family of seven. That’s a parenting win!
Give Thanks for Wins, Big and Small
Aren’t we all our own worst critics? I love to create mental lists that shine a lot of light on my shortcomings and overlook the hard work I put in every day to serve my family. As a homeschool mom, I was given the advice to write down what we did in a day rather than what I thought should get done in a day. The idea is to focus on all the learning that we did together instead of ending the day feeling like a failure because a certain workbook page was left untouched.
The same is true for parents; we need to make lists of how we love well and also how our kids have grown. Glass half full is the right outlook to create a positive space in our homes. Rather than only noting how your kids fought with their siblings, make sure to pay special attention to the times that they lovingly served your family. Instead of only seeing how you were unable to keep your house tidy, give thanks that your kids felt safe enough to play freely in your home.
Give thanks for the wins, big and small! Parenting is a marathon; it’s easy to get burnt out. We have to encourage our hearts and each other because we can’t let perceived failure stop us from staying in the game. Our kids need us; no matter how flawed we are, we are theirs, and we matter more than almost anything else to our kids.
The other day, I had to apologize to my two and three-year-olds. I won’t lie, I felt silly. I really am unsure that they had any idea what I was saying as I explained that Mommy should not have yelled at them and is really sorry. But I felt like I needed to make amends even if what I was doing went over their heads.
Saying sorry wasn’t just about them; it is mostly about me. I need to have a humble heart as a mom. I have to model to my kids repentance and forgiveness not perfection. It’s really hard to do this, though. As a mom, my aim is to do it right the first time. Apologies are not fun.
The reality is my kids need me to mess up and say sorry as a model of what healthy reconciliation is just as much as they need me to get it right the first time. Our kids learn most by watching what we do. We have to show them how grace is asked for and received and how it makes a fresh path forward in our homes when it's embraced.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea that you're just not winning enough as a parent, here is a friendly reminder that the tough times teach us! They are gifts, and they also don’t go on forever. By God’s grace, you have the strength to keep showing up, meet those needs, say ‘I’m sorry,’ and thank God for the little gifts he gives over the course of the day.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.