Things have been a little quiet over here, we have been busy and in a challenging season of parenting. Raising two toddlers, both pushing and testing to find the boundaries. A three year old going on 16. Lots of changes and adjusting and trying to figure out how we deal with all of this as a family.
Parenting is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It's also one of the most rewarding. I have been struggling to know what is the best way to raise our boys, when to let things go and when to teach and help them grow. I get caught up in the daily challenges, the screaming, the fits, the big feelings. Toddlers have lots of big feelings. Especially toddlers with sensory processing problems.
I have been feeling weary. Worn out. Like maybe I'm just not cut out for parenting toddlers. We have been doing a Beth Moore Bible study at church. (If you ever have a chance to do one, take it! For real!) Yesterday we watched the video that was all about relationships, the highs and the lows and what God calls us to in these relationships. I found myself scribbling down quotes and nodding my head vigorously. Relationships require vulnerability, the ability to put ourselves out there with the potential of being hurt. We have been there. A relationship with a child we don't get to raise, so much hurt. Raising a child that we don't always know what he needs and what is best. She talked about how facing the depths, the deep hurt also allows us to know the joy of the good times, the gladness. This is a lesson that we have learned over the last few years. Without the deep pain of losing Carter, I'm not sure we would have the same perspective about what a gift our children are (a challenging gift, but a gift).
And then she said this: You can only know the joy and the gladness when you have been in a relationship you thought would kill you. This may sound a little extreme to some of you, but honestly, there are days when I feel like I am going to pull all of my hair out. I love my kids to pieces, but it is a challenge. There are days when I don't know what Cohen wants or needs. Where he screams for an hour over something that he can't put words to. Where I have to put him in the stroller naked and screaming (with a blanket on) because he won't put clothes on and it's the only thing that will calm him down. But when the good days come, they are so much BETTER because of the hard days that we face. The hugs and kisses are that much sweeter after the fits.
The turning point was when she talked about the ultimate goal - to have kids that love Jesus. This was a huge change of perspective for me. So often I focus on the day to day, because it feels like I just need to get through the day. It made me really think about what I am doing to show Jesus to my kids. Am I living in a way that they will see Jesus in me? As they grow up will they know that a relationship with the Lord is the most important thing? Am I teaching them to act like Jesus and be kind and loving to others? Is my end goal to have kids that love Jesus? Whew. That was a pretty big perspective change for me. It has been rolling around in my head and making me think about my decisions and the words that I say.
I'm not perfect and never will be. I will still stumble, lose my wits, maybe even pull all my hair out. I will still wave the white flag and call Gramma to see if the kids can spend some time at her house. But I hope that someday when my kids are grown, they can look back and see how much we love them and that even though we aren't perfect and we make mistakes, that they will have seen Jesus in us.