People talk about how hard marriage is… how hard college is… how hard life is… and having learned from other people’s mistakes and successes, I was able to thrive through these challenges and come away with a rich marriage, a rich education, and a rich life.
So why did nobody tell me that parenting would be hard?
Apparently I came into parenting with blinders on. I love kids and had seen great success in teaching, I’m patient, and I have a great relationship with my husband, so parenting should be a breeze, right? Wrong.
Good Days, Bad Days
It seems the worst days are those when expectations are set too high and frustration sets in when they aren’t met. At the end of the day, I’m upset that I couldn’t cross “dishes” off my to-do list because my child wanted to cling all morning, and bumped her head falling into a wall when I tried to walk around her. Or I’m stressed out that I lost valuable time helping her clean crayon off the wall, pen off her legs, or yogurt off her shirt.
The better days, on the other hand, are those which start with a “blank canvas.” Yes, we move forward toward goals of learning, growth, and order, but instead of beating myself up for things undone or blaming my kids for being a distraction, I remember that kids are kids, and dishes are just dishes. I cherish the time I have with them, let them enjoy their youth, and when nap time and bed time roll around, I’m refreshed and relaxed enough to move mountains (of dishes).
I like control. I like crossing things off my list. I don’t like feeling like my children are a hindrance to a life well lived, because they aren’t. They are an essential part of life well lived.
So much of life is about finding balance. I don’t want to throw away the note pad and never have goals for the day, but I’m learning that there are strategies for balance. There are ways to set and attain goals while accounting for the fact that things don’t often go as planned. I don’t know what those strategies are, but they do exist. They are strategies along the lines of general to-dos, prioritizing goals (“If I get nothing else done today, I need to ________”), weekly goals instead of daily goals, etc. The dishes get dirty every day, and so do the kids, but 16 years from now, I want my kids to have a clean heart and the assurance of a God and parents who love them.
And a photograph of a happy kid usually has a mess in the background.
I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. – Jeremiah 10:23