We aren’t telling you anything new when we say that parenting is hard. Every stage that your child goes through brings with it new challenges and joys. On some days, if you’re being truthful, it might seem that the challenges outweigh the joys. If you can identify with this last statement, you aren’t alone—and it doesn’t make you a bad parent.
As a parent, some of your main goals for your children are for them to feel happy, loved, and safe. Those goals come with a lot of responsibility. It can mean quickly making dinner for your family after you’ve worked an eight-hour day. Sometimes it means trying to help your nine-year-old with homework while you wait outside the gym for your teenager to finish up with practice. And at least once, it will probably mean getting up in the middle of the night multiple times to feed and change your newborn.
Sometimes we get so busy we lose sight of time slipping by. Finding Joy says it best: “Our culture, our world, our media has the ability to lull us to sleep.” We get so used to our daily routines and the days go by so fast that we dull our senses, lose our joy, and parent on auto-pilot.
Falicia from Madison City’s Mom Blog shares a special moment that she had with her three-year-old daughter. The little one was struggling to get to sleep one night, and like many of us, Falicia was thinking of all the things that needed to be done yet that night and all the things that wouldn’t get done. Her daughter asked for more cuddles, so Falicia got into bed with her. It was then that her daughter said, “I love you, Mommy. You are so gentle with me. You are so kind.”
Falicia realized that her daughter’s list consisted of one thing: her mother. How many times have you missed the joy in the day-to-day life of parenthood? How often have you gotten so caught up with the lists and management of your family that you’ve skipped over the whole reason we are living anyway?
Your children won’t remember the time you ordered pizza instead of cooking. They won’t remember a messy living room or the load of laundry that didn’t get done one Sunday night. What they will remember is the nights you spent reading them stories before bedtime and the songs you sang to ease their crying. They’ll remember the times that you sat down with them to watch their favorite movie for the 100th time. They will appreciate you and all of the happiness you created with them.
Finding Joy has an excellent resource to use in order to start thinking about being an intentional parent; it involves looking at your own heart in order to seek out your child’s heart.
Letting go of some of the smaller things so you have time for your family can be difficult for some people to do. The good thing is that you don’t have to do it alone. Some communities have parenting support groups, and a therapist would be happy to listen to the story of you and your family; s/he can also help give you some practical solutions that will fit your family’s needs.