There are times throughout the parenting journey where I wonder if my children will ever grow up. Certain stages of child-rearing can be relentless, exhausting, or just downright frustrating.
We’ve recently overcome the battle of teaching our youngest child to drink from a straw and I may have dreaded every second of it. Out of five children, only one has transitioned quickly from bottle (or soft spout sippy cup) without a fight. While my current experience hasn’t been my toughest, I realized anew that learning is hard work but finding oneself on the other side can be pure bliss.
Perhaps when we find ourselves dreading the days (or nights) of parenting, we need to stop and take a breath, look for elements of the journey to be thankful for, and embrace our current experience.
Getting ready to learn, living fully in the present, and knowing that our little ones change all too quickly will help in this challenge.
Get Ready to Learn
Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. If I knew a decade ago the sheer volume of knowledge I would need to learn, I might have run the other way. Book knowledge is one thing, but learning through experience is something completely different.
Parenting challenges come in all shapes and forms. Read up on how you might approach your current situation and then take the first step in meeting it head-on. Look for what’s working and fine-tune the areas that aren’t.
When you’re facing a new task, hands-on learning is essential. Sure, you can read up on the right ways to do things, but it isn’t until you try (and perhaps fail) and try again that you find your niche and become proficient.
Throughout this process of experiential learning there will be setbacks and, in the social media age, there’s likely to be critical comments as well. Give yourself grace as you learn how to best care for your growing family, knowing that investing in your family will yield big returns.
Live in the Present
Too often we find ourselves reliving the glory days of the past or looking ahead to the future, thinking, "If only you were still a snuggly newborn", or, "I can’t wait until you’re able to move around on your own".
One of the biggest parenting lessons you’ll encounter is to embrace your here and now.
All of a sudden, days have turned into weeks and months into years. As you watch your kids grow, remember that both the good times and the challenging ones have moments to be celebrated.
So, before you wish for a time machine, look for the positives in your present situation. Perhaps it’s your child’s excitement over the simplest of toys or the way her face lights up when reading a favorite story. Take note of the blessings surrounding your present; they’re there for the taking.
Engage fully with your present situation and when the wishes for better times begin to surface, gently remind yourself that your parenting journey is right here, right now.
This Too Shall Pass
You’ve likely heard other parents tell you to enjoy your young children because they grow too quickly. How true this is.
While these parents aren’t advocating celebrating the sleepless nights and diaper explosions, there’s truth to having perspective throughout the parenting journey.
Parenting may be a mountain to climb or a murky swamp to wade through. Dig in deep, knowing that this too will pass. You’ll be left with all the learning you did, the blessings you found, and memories to last a lifetime.
Your current struggle is not the end of your story.