Parenting is Hard
by Terri Bonin
I hover outside my husband’s closet door and listen to him hum as he sheds his dirty scrubs and changes into Daddy Attire for the evening. I’m glad he’s happy, but I feel nothing like him at the moment.
I’m too exhausted to hum.
I just need a hug, a break, maybe some chocolate. My mood must be bouncing off of me because without even turning around to look at me his humming stops. His knowing without seeing, no doubt, comes from almost 24 years of marriage.
He turns around and searches my eyes, “You OK?”
“No. Not really. I have…
…an elephant on my back,” I choke trying not to cry.
“Hmmmm…when I have the elephant it’s usually on my chest,” he smiles.
“Ok, Ok, I guess the elephant is sitting on my shoulders pressing on both my back and chest.”
I cry softy.
“Parenting is really hard right now. Our family consists of a strong-willed child, a passive-aggressive child, and a high maintenance child, which somehow cancels out our seven easy kids,” I chuckle at how ridiculous I must sound, but the tears still fall. “They just require non-stop attention. It would be easier to do nothing, but I know that would cheat our kids. I know they need me to follow through, win arguments, and discipline bad behavior, but I’d rather take a nap. I know they need to me teach their lessons kindly and model sweetness. It’s HARD!” the tears flow.
My husband listens to me spill my angst, then hugs me long. We discuss the details of the day and talk through the next steps.
Parenting has MANY fun moments, but those moments only come if unruly spirits are shaped with diligence by loving parents (or a parent.) It is so much easier to overlook back talking, slow obedience, and secret sin, but in the long run, everyone suffers, and lives crumble when poor character grows freely. Parenting with wisdom and understanding takes constant diligence and a firm commitment during a fleeting season.
Our children need us to make this commitment to them in love. As a ten-year-old, I remember begging to wear high heels everywhere. I would clop around the house practicing my walk. My mom made me boiling mad because she WOULD NOT allow me out of the house in high heels. I mumbled promises that MY GIRLS would get to wear stilettos WHENEVER they wanted when I became a mom.
I’m so glad my mom chose to be the bad guy and did NOT let me priss around like a child playing dress-up in public. Over and over my parents lived out their commitment to parent in love to the end. Sometimes I did NOT like their decisions, but deep down inside I KNEW. I KNEW that love motivated their protection and guidance.
True parent-child love does the hard thing…knows where the child is and who he is with at all times, spends time in the child’s interest, gives loving attention to the child’s hobbies, works to understand the heart of the child, and never gives up.
The breaks are few, but the rewards are many.
Love your children today by giving yourself 110% to building strong character. You may not win a popularity contest today, but you will be their superhero when they’re grown. If you are parenting yourself to tears, stand strong, sometimes true-love parenting HURTS. Be encouraged that the developmental seasons change quickly in growing children. They won’t be young forever.
“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary,” Galatians 6:9
Ps. Schedule plenty of alone time dating your spouse regardless of the parenting season you’re in. A strong marriage will make you a better mom…as will a nap and some chocolate. 🙂