By Becky Beresfod
A few weeks ago I was once again battling my tiny army in the great bedtime war, a daily occurrence in our home. Somehow amid the laughing and crying and question-asking, I heard my phone buzz on the counter. Please let it be my husband saying he’s coming home early with a Starbuck’s latte in hand! The one-year-old was bawling, the toddler was fleeing the scene and let’s be honest friends, who the heck knows where my first-born was? Probably drawing on one of my walls or raiding the pantry or both. Kids are talented like that. By the grace of Jesus, I miraculously reached my cell and checked the texts.
Not from the hubby. Actually, it wasn’t from anyone I was expecting. My brother-in-law sent the message and his words caught my eye.
“You should write a blog post talking about the things that get easier once you become a parent.”
And snap. I wish I could have taken a picture of my facial expression in that moment because WHAT?
Was he for real? Things getting EASIER after welcoming little humans into your life? The same little humans who murdered my nice couch and punched holes through my drywall earlier that week? Those babies? He and my sister had just welcomed sweet girl #2 earlier that month. I’m sure he was delirious and very sleep-deprived; a combination that makes you do ridiculous things. But out of curiosity, I kept reading.
“Cause it seems like literally EVERYTHING gets harder after kids, but that can’t be true.”
It can’t? I physically stepped back in an attempt to readjust my current negative thinking. Was there even one thing I could honestly say gets easier after having children? Help me out here, Jesus. And suddenly, in the middle of all the chaos, He gently took my hand, drew me out from the muddled fog, and placed me in the clear pasture of His grace.
“BE STILL AND KNOW, MY CHILD.”
I knew His voice--calm and reassuring. I knew He had a ‘best’ He wanted to show me. And slowly I began to see my surroundings for what they really were.
My eyes saw the little boy running from me, but this time I caught a glimpse of his mischievous grin as he looked behind him, hoping his Mommy would come get him. He wanted me. He wanted my love and attention and cuddles. I saw the little baby reaching up for the one person he knew could make it all better. He needed me and only me. And I looked at the scattered drawings on the floor my eldest boy drew with the most intricate detail and care. He showed it to me a couple hours ago because he was proud. He wanted Mama’s approval. My opinion mattered...I mattered.
God showed me His beauty in a matter of seconds and I was eager to see more.
I quickly replied. “I’m gonna do it. I need to do it.”
So here I am, staying true to my word. But more importantly, I’m choosing to see joy in the midst of the mess. There are only five points here, but I’m pretty sure I could have done more. Yeah, I’m surprised too.
1.) It’s easier to lose your mind.
For real. You go crazy when you raise mini-people. I have spent hours looking for keys that were in my pockets. I wake up in the middle of the night hearing screams from the monitor, but it’s dead silent. I can barely make sentences and refer to all items as “that thing over there.” I make no sense and it just comes with the exhausted territory. I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. And yet somehow I am expected to give of myself 24/7 without being able to take care of simple needs like peeing on my own or taking a shower once a week. If they know you are somewhere in the home, it’s over. Checkmate, my friend. They will find you.
Let it be of consolation to you to know it’s normal to feel like you are going insane because you probably are. But good news! You are not alone. Every person who has a child, especially young ones, feels your pain. We are all in the same circus boat and even if it seems like it’s sinking, just know it’s going to be okay and we will survive. I mean, it’s highly probable.
2.) It’s easier to let go of expectations because you will have lots of practice.
I always have these grandiose ideas and visions for creating family memories but I actually don’t think I can recall one ever going according to plan. Things pop up, kids freak out, schedules change…life happens. Flexibility is a given in the parent world, but often it’s hard to let that piece of reality sink in. And sometimes it’s even harder to let it become the norm. In an interesting turn of events; letting go can actually be a gift. I know...it’s shocking. But true. The pressure to try and make everything happen the way you want it to can be intense. If we allow Jesus to step in and remove our self-imposed burdens, the world will look and feel a whole lot lighter.
I have a son with special needs and our plans change by the hour. I used to freak out about it, but now I’m learning to make flexibility my friend. It isn’t easy in and of itself, but when we practice living with open hands and open hearts we give God the opportunity to step in and change our circumstances in a way that goes far beyond anything we could have dreamed. He is the God of abundance and His ability to make beauty out of the ashes will never fail. Trust Him.
3.) It’s easier to laugh at it all.
Kids have this uncanny way of bringing joy into the mundane. They see life through their innocence and experience it with fresh, pure hearts. There’s a reason Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16). Kids understand what matters. And they know that one of the most important things you can do in this life is just to laugh and have fun!
I love my goofballs. Sometimes I’m in the worst mood and I look at my sweet child’s face. He smiles ear to ear and it completely captures my heart. I’m a sucker for baby hugs and cutie kisses. But man, you add in their belly laughs and I’m gone! Soon my grin is as big as his.
I catch myself laughing during the precious times and the ‘Sweet-Jesus-help-me’ times. When it’s psycho nuts in my home and I’m just standing there not knowing what to do or who to take care of first, I just start laughing! It’s like my brain doesn’t know how to respond so it says, “Okay, this is too much. Let’s crack up.” And that’s when I begin to cackle like a crazy person. See point #1.
4.) It’s easier to beat yourself up like never before.
I’ve always had a problem with shame. It’s my thing. But when you are in charge of raising decent human beings, let alone keeping them alive, things get real. I am certainly the hardest on myself when it comes to taking care of my family. They mean the world to me and somehow each day I think I’m majorly screwing things up. I promise to reimburse them for whatever therapy they may need later on in life. But here’s the thing…every single parent thinks they are missing the mark! I have never met a mom or dad who thinks they have it all together. Instead, they feel like they are not good enough or too much or someplace in between. And the guilt can be so defeating. Luckily, we don’t have to live there.
The goodness of our Jesus is unending. He isn’t about perfection, which is great since no one is perfect. He’s about our transformation and I can’t think of anything else in life that changes you more besides being a parent. Your kids see your rough days. They see you mess up over and over again, but when you come to them and say sorry I truly believe it gives them a sense of relief! Not just because you are pursuing reconciliation, but I really believe this helps them avoid the unrealistic standards of perfection they may place on themselves in order to gain your affection. They will know they are always loved no matter what they do, and that model of unconditional love will stay with them wherever this life leads them.
We are all doing our best. God knows that and He covers us in His grace. Whenever we feel weak, we know He is strong and more than able to fill in the multiple gaps.
5.) It’s easier to understand the heart of God.
The instant you hold your child for the first time, your relationship with Jesus goes to a whole new level. It’s the most surreal, humbling, and scary feeling in the world. God has entrusted this precious life to you. This beautiful creature that you would literally die for…they are your heart walking outside of your body. The love you have for them is nothing less than extravagant.
In that divine moment, God looks at us, His beloved children, and softly whispers, “I love you even more.” It’s almost unbelievable and yet, it’s the most important thing we need to believe. This is the Love that surpassing all understanding. This is the Love that endures forever. Our Heavenly Father’s love stretches past any human’s capability to love on his or her own, and that includes parents. As much as you love your child, it’s just a glimpse of how much God adores you. You are loved perfectly and wonderfully just because you are you.
And as if that weren’t enough, when we experience God’s love more fully, He gives us the blessing of passing on His love to our kids. There’s really no greater honor.
We can all agree that parenting is a complicated ordeal. You don’t get a handbook with all the answers, but hopefully, we can encourage each other along the way. Just like being in love or picking out paint colors, it’s comforting to know that the simple and the hard can coexist.
So take heart, fellow parenting-warrior. With all the other complexities you may be facing today, let me reassure you just as my Jesus reassured me.
You are doing well, my friend. Very well, indeed.