The Challenges of Parenting
There is a decade between my oldest and my youngest, my girls whose birthdays are ten years and a week apart. Their due dates were a day apart, so it has felt like I have been given a do over, another baby girl born in the springtime. The mistakes I made with my oldest are not the mistakes I make with my youngest. But I make plenty of different mistakes, a reminder that parenting is a challenge no matter how many times you get to start with a blank canvas!
We have moved into the stage of parenting where we don’t have to find babysitters. But we’re also in the season where we are so tired by the time evening rolls around that we don’t really want to go anywhere. It’s strange how that happens! So unfair.
I found it to be easier to share parenting challenges when my kids were little. Toddler tantrums seemed solvable while teenage angst leaves me feeling helpless. Discipline changes as they grow up and with kids at different stages of adolescence, I find that I have a tendency to coast for awhile and then I am smacked with the reality that I still have a little one and she still needs a bedtime and baths and discipline. This might sound astonishing to those of you who only have littles, but when most of your crew is self-sufficient, it’s easy to slip into thinking they all are.
One of my kids felt like a failure recently and as I comforted and snuggled my sweet child, I was reminded that we keep inching closer to that time when they won’t need me in the same way. My oldest is getting ready to forge her own path in life. I suggested that we would probably video chat every day when she’s at college, mostly as a joke, but her incredulity surprised me. She will be leaving and it won’t be the same. Part of me is excited for all that the future holds. Another part wonders how I will adjust to not being the #1 person my kids go to for solace and advice.
Homeschooling has been a wonderful choice for our family. We get to share their best moments and I love this. But we also get their worst and sometimes it’s just plain exhausting. I don’t ever feel like I have a day off. It’s not that I don’t have time to myself- my husband is wonderful and encourages me to pursue the things in my life that bring joy. But I’m still always thinking about meals and laundry and assignments and relationship issues. This past year was especially hard as I felt like I was trying to deal with my own anxiety and loss while simultaneously seeking to be a rock for my husband and family.
Sometimes I am embarrassed by how weak I am, by how often my kids see my worst moments. But then I remember that it’s no mistake that God gave me the children he did along with all of the challenges we have faced. I am amazed that despite my failings, my kids keep growing in maturity, in kindness and in wisdom. It’s remarkable really.
There’s a line in the song “All I have is Christ” that says, “The strength to follow your commands could never come from me.” It makes me teary when we sing it, because I feel the veracity of this statement so deeply. My prayer is that as my kids have a front row seat to all of my failings, they will see that any strength or wisdom in me is from Christ. And I pray that as they see me depend on Christ, they will have the security of knowing that they can depend on him too.
Parenting is challenging and the older they get, the less free I feel about sharing the challenges. Because it’s their story to share, not mine. But parents of older ones? I get it. You’re not alone. As I told my one who thought they were a failure- it’s not the failures that determine our character. It’s whether or not we keep trying.
Let’s continue to meet the challenges of parenting with resilience and perseverance. God is faithful to use even our weakest moments for our good and his glory!