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Hello fellow Parenting Warriors!
Let’s get straight to the point – sometimes being a parent is just downright discouraging, isn’t it?
There are so many days I wonder if I’m really cut out for this job. Parenting has a unique way of pointing out your faults and making you feel less than adequate at least ten times a day in some way or another.
It’s especially difficult when you have a lot of little kids at home – they’re hopelessly messy, they lack independence, and they demand constant attention – but then again, I could say the same for the older kids. When you add a house full of winter-time illness, or an accident requiring an ER visit, or basically anything outside of your carefully balanced normal, all of it is enough to make you crumble into a weepy hot mess or lash out with blazing anger.
Parenting is so overwhelming.
Have you ever felt more defeated?
Just the other day, I had someone close to me remind me that it only gets harder as you add more kids to your family.
Yes, thank you. We’re very aware of that.
With four kids and five remaining embryos, we totally understand that we’re going to be in the trenches, not just for a few years like most of the people we know, but for the long haul. It’s no secret that we’re planning to grow our family this year, trying for baby #5. And if you’ve read our story, you know we’re going one at a time, but it’s likely we’ll continue to expand further in the years ahead.
When you only look at the here and now, and get lost in the day to day battle of parenting, it’s very easy to get discouraged, lose heart, become overwhelmed, and, if you’re considering a bigger family, panic at the thought of adding more kids to your already crazy life. And this is just your own thoughts. When you add in the unsolicited advice and discouraging remarks from other people, it’s enough to make you want to hide yourself under camouflage and retreat for the hills.
Friends, to survive the parenting trenches, you must adopt a new mindset.
You must think ahead and see the big picture. Despite your tendencies, when you feel overwhelmed and defeated, like it’s never going to end, you have to move beyond what’s right in front of you and consider the long-term. You must fill your mind with truth that builds you up and sustains you, and throw out any negative concepts that break you down.
Read on as we discuss five encouraging truths that you need to remember when you’re in the parenting trenches.
1)You’re doing a great job.
First and foremost, remind yourself that you’re doing an excellent job! Caring for the basic necessities of your family is a lot of work and shouldn’t go unnoticed. Putting a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table, maintaining hygiene, keeping a clean living space, and loving your family well are all vitally important.
Don’t take those things for granted.
Instead of thinking of all the things you didn’t get done today, or all the times you felt like you fell short or didn’t measure up, or all the mistakes you’ve made, or all the tasks you wish you had completed, think about how much you’ve accomplished simply by being available for your family and meeting their basic needs.
Scott and I have to remind ourselves often not to cave to our own self-imposed pressures or the pressures put on us by friends and family. There is way, way, way too much stress in our culture to go above and beyond for our kids. It’s impossible to keep up with it all.
If you play the comparison game and measure yourself or your worth against what you think everyone else is doing, you’re bound to view yourself in a negative light and you’ll start to believe that you’re not capable or you’re not a good parent. This will make your time in the parenting trenches that much harder.
It’s ok if your kids don’t have everything or if they have to work to earn something they want. It’s ok if you have to skip a vacation or an extracurricular activity because you can’t fit it into your schedule or you can’t afford it. Your kids aren’t going to suffer (even if they tell you otherwise!).
More than anything, they need YOU. Remind yourself often that you’re doing a great job, even if you lose your temper or make a less than stellar parenting choice (we’ve all done this!). Remember who God says you are and what He is actually calling you to do – be a parent who is loving, present, and engaged. The other stuff is just extra.
You are enough.
2) This is a season – and seasons change.
Although it may seem like the days drag on or the weeks pass slowly, your time in the parenting trenches is a season of life just like everything else.
Don’t forget to take inventory of where you’ve been, how far you’ve come, and how much has changed. You’ve been through your childhood, teenage years, college, your wedding, and the start of your career. You started a family and are now navigating through the parenting years. This is a tough, but wonderful, time – but it won’t last forever.
Once you’ve raised your babies and launched them into the world, as sure as the sun will rise, another season will come. So embrace what you can and try to let the little things go. Before you know it, years will have passed, you’ll be in a new season of life, and you’ll wonder where all the time went.
Although Scott and I know we’ll likely be in the trenches longer than others, when we step back and look at the big picture, we’re reminded that these years are precious and just a small part of our whole lives – and our kids are worth every difficult, and magnificent, moment.
3) They grow.
Not only do the seasons of your life change, your children mature, grow, and transform as well. They won’t always be fussy babies, or defiant toddlers, or cranky school-aged children, or irritable middle-schoolers, or grumpy teenagers. They’re progressing through their own seasons. Whatever difficult stage you find yourself in, remember it won’t be that way for long.
Just the other day, Scott and I were talking about how amazing it is that our twin boys are turning eight in just a few weeks. That’s almost halfway through their childhood. It seems like yesterday when we went through IVF for the first time and just this morning when we brought them home from the hospital. They’ve grown up SO much and it happened in the blink of an eye.
4) They become part of the team.
Although some children have a tendency to want to help more than others, overall as children grow up, they want to contribute and become part of the family team – this gives them wonderful learning experiences, builds life skills, enhances their development, and it’s a big help to you!
Children of all ages can offer assistance in a variety of ways, whether it’s with younger siblings, household chores, cooking, laundry, or yardwork, etc. There’s usually something that aligns with your child’s natural interests where they’re more likely to jump in and lend a hand. Keep an eye out and cultivate that area in your child!
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take more than a few years for a toddler to become capable of helping in small ways around the house. By that point, they usually have a strong desire to get involved. Although it takes time to teach them, once kids learn what to do, it sets a tone of teamwork in the family and takes some of the pressure off of you to complete everything on your own. This definitely makes your time in the parenting trenches a tad bit easier.
As an example, our four year old started asking to help with the laundry and cleaning when he was barely three. We were happy to let him jump in – and now he can fold his own clothes and put them away. And he loves using our natural cleaning spray to wipe the chairs and table after dinner. Our older boys have regular chores, but they readily jump in to play with their younger brother, or help with their baby sister, or offer to ease our responsibilities in other age appropriate ways. As they have grown, all of our kids have pitched in and they make everyday life a little more manageable.
5) You’ll miss this.
Last, but certainly not least, despite the hardships you’re currently facing, no matter how difficult of a day you’ve had, when you look back several years from now, you’ll miss this time in your life.
True, you may not miss the sibling rivalry, or the constant injuries, or the tantrums, or the floors covered in crumbs. But you’ll miss their innocence and the way they snuggled up in your lap. You’ll miss hearing them laugh together as they play tag outside. You’ll miss the times they came to you in confidence after school because you’re their safe place – the one they can trust – when everything and everyone else seems uncertain. You will miss the celebrations and the holidays when you’re all together under one roof. You’ll miss simply being in their presence on a daily basis when they’re all grown up and out in the world. Cherish and embrace the moments of this season– in the grand scheme of life, they come and go like a whisper in the wind.
Friends, we aren’t speaking these truths to you because we’ve lived through it already. We’re speaking them to you because we’re living through it right now, right alongside you. Parenting is the hardest thing we’ve ever done and it feels like we’re in the trenches on a daily basis. Scott and I talk about this all the time in order to keep a big picture perspective and to encourage and sustain ourselves along the way – and so, we are speaking them to you, too.
We believe in them and know they’re truth – not necessarily because of our own experience, but because of the experience of others who have gone before us. Ask anyone who is past this stage of life and they all say the same thing…
Yes, you’re in the parenting trenches. And we know how tough it is. We remember. But…you’re doing a great job. This is just a season, and seasons change. They will grow, they’ll help along the way, but the years will fly by. Take it all in and cherish it because, one day, you’ll miss it.
So, friends, as you move along in your years of parenting, remember these pearls of wisdom. We hope they will bless you and give you a dose of encouragement and endurance on those hard days when you need it the most, just as they have done for us. We’re with you on the journey, praying peace, patience, and perseverance over your hearts.
P.S. If you need support or guidance as you consider your choices with your embryos, please join our private FB community, Leftover Frozen Embryos Support Group. Here, we talk in real time with other parents about the difficulties of living life with leftover frozen embryos and the options we have moving forward. You can also join our email list to receive support, encouragement, and updates on new content and our personal journey.