Good morning! Today we have a guest post by Miriam White, friend and mother-extraordinaire, on a really pertinent topic. Enjoy!
“These are the best years. They grow up so fast – make the most of them. They’re only little once. Enjoy every moment!
I seem to have been told this a lot recently. Maybe I don’t look as though I’m enjoying myself and need the encouragement. Or maybe seeing my three young boys running me ragged brings out the wistfulness in parents of grown up children looking back with rose-tinted glasses to an elusive golden age of parenthood.
My response is pretty negative. Really? This is as good as it gets? How depressing. I was hoping that at some point it might actually become more enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding! Surely people wouldn’t continue to have children all the time if this is really the best it can be.
I know parenthood is about the children and not the parents. I know it’s not about what you get out of it, it’s what your children get from you. But I didn’t have children for their sake, I had them for mine. I wanted them – I felt that in some way I would enjoy having them, loving them and caring for them. And I would benefit from the reflected love and pride in who they are and who they become. It’s not as if we have a duty to have children, it’s a choice we make (in most cases).
It can be very easy to lose yourself in the hard slog of motherhood in the early years.
To get through, you tell yourself that there’s ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Most things are just phases and they’ll come out of them eventually. So, the early sleepless nights will eventually get better. At some point you’ll be able to leave the house again. When they’re a bit older, going out for a meal won’t be quite so exhausting and might even be enjoyable. And then they’ll start school and you’ll get some time back to yourself. The tantrums will reduce; you might be able to reason with them occasionally.
And these things are all true. But it can feel like there’s not much reward for all the hard work in the early years. And to be told that it doesn’t get any better is not helpful!
However, I read a few things recently that have made me think differently about my reaction. One of them is this:
The reality is that every age has its ups and downs. So, while some things will get better, new challenges will come in. It’s too easy to miss the good things about the early years while you’re waiting for the hard things to be grown out of.
What if these ARE the best years?! Let’s not live in the future all the time but learn to be content in the state we’re in (1 Phil 4). I don’t want to look wistfully at someone else’s children when mine are grown, wishing I’d enjoyed the early years with them more. I want to enjoy any and every moment I can of every age.
Links that might be of interest:
Lovely poems here especially ‘just for this day’
Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one (Glennon Melton).
Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans (John Lennon).”
*Quote from the film As Good As It Gets