Thursday, October 8, 2015

What To Do When Parenting Leaves You Weary

I've been reflecting a lot lately on the journey of parenting

The ups, the downs and everything in between.

I still remember clearly crying out to God and asking Him to give us a baby. So many years of loss and sadness, wondering if we would ever have children in our physical care that called us mom and dad. 

We pressed on and I really learned a lot in that season.

Then along came our miracle(s) after another...plural in every way! From a quiet house to a house full, our lives were filled with joy and expectation as we now had five little people in our precious care. 

The years that followed were joyous & challenging. It constantly reminded me that we needed prayer and unconditional love in our family...on a regular basis.

One post that I remember writing during that season still stands out to me. It was titled, "Enjoy Almost Every Moment." I would continually hear moms with older children say, "just hang in there, it will get easier." 

And honestly that was never something I wanted to hear. 

photo credit: Kimberly Moore

I wanted to live in the live in the moment and enjoy these years of hearing little ones giggling in our home. And after years of longing to be a mom I simply wanted to enjoy the stage of parenting that we were in. Yet I still felt sheer exhaustion from countless diapers, daily spilled milk and teaching each one about sharing...again and again and again.

It was that determination to take one challenge at a time and one joy at a time that helped get me through each passing day...while still being present (or at least trying to be!) With many years at home with little ones, (and most of the time with frigid weather conditions outside) I went to work organizing and decorating our home to keep my focus balanced. (Those specific tasks aren't the solution for every mom, but for me it was the opportunity to get creative, focus on something more than time outs and welcome friends and neighbors into our space so that we could be fully present...even in those years of little sleep.)

Fast forward now to our present circumstances and we have four kids in school and our littlest is in preschool three days a week. This past month was actually the first time that I have had all five kids in school on a regular basis. 

It was a moment that I dreamed of happening someday. 

What would it be like? 

How would I feel?

I guess in the end my feelings surprised me. Although, I'm not sure what I expected. 

For the past month, three days a week, I have been dropping off our youngest at preschool and then I head over to our big kids school to drop them off next. Many times we arrive a few minutes before the doors open. The kids unbuckle and are chomping at the bit. Everyone is talking at once! "Can we go?!" they ask. The clock strikes and they open the sliding door immediately. Noise follows as they hustle out and I hit the button to close the door and they scurry off. 

And then it hits me. 

I begin to pull away and do a double take in the rear view mirror still in shock that there are no little people behind me. 

The van is strangely silent and the truth is...I feel like bursting into tears. I'm not sure why I haven't yet. Perhaps it is because I rush off to do way too many things that I have planned as I attempt to squeeze working a part-time job, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and loving others into those hours. Perhaps I feel as though if I squeeze so much into one day I won't have any time to process the feelings that I feel rushing to the surface.

Regardless it is the weight of responsibility, or in this case the lack of responsibility in that moment that overwhelms me. I drive away knowing that for a few hours, for that moment in time, I am not responsible for anyone but myself.

I haven't known that kind of feeling in six years.

The weight of trying to shift from attempting to address every argument, squabble and question for a crew of five (which is in itself an impossible task) is so heavy.

In fact, if I summarized my parenting in this current season into one word it would be...


You see, our crew is beyond diapers and sippy cups and having to travel with pack n plays and baby toys. 

And thankfully everyone is sleeping better these days. 

Yet we have little people who are becoming bigger people...who have questions and opinions, desires and needs. And I find that I am frustrated often at saying the same things over and over again. 

The kids will go outside to play and one will come in to ask for something, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then...yet another.

And even in the frustration, I wouldn't change it for the world. These kids are precious and we could never even for a moment imagine our lives without even one of them. 

But I'm still weary.

And while my emotions are on the brink of flooding into my minivan one of these days after I drop my growing kids off at school, the one thing that I keep coming back to is how much I need God through it all. 

I've tried doing play dates with friends and fun date nights with my hubby. I've treated myself to a pedicure, gotten a massage to relieve the million of knots in my back. I've been getting regular adjustments at the chiropractor over the past few months and have been diffusing my favorite essential oils. I've read more books in this season than in any other season of my life and still none of those things completely satisfy.

All of those things are good...all of those things are helpful

But in the thick of it...during the constant days of parenting when I am weary, there is only one thing that satisfies my soul.

And that is knowing that I am loved by a God who sacrificed it all for me...for you

A God who sent His only son to die on the cross for our sins. 

Please know that whatever season of parenting you are isn't about getting through the current one and getting on to the next but it is about drawing near to God and finding strength and love in His rest.

'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' 
Matthew 11:28

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