My kids’ room was a mess. They had been playing hard and managed to undo any type of organization I had attempted to create in the past 4 years. While I was thankful for the extended conflict-free play time, I wasn’t thankful for the unearthing of every toy that existed in our home. Being way preggo, I was not about to clean it up by myself. So being the excellent parent I was at 8 months pregnant, I set before them a bribe. As soon as they could get their room cleaned up, they could watch a Paw Patrol.
Their little eyes lit up at the prospect and there were squeals of excitement. My five year old immediately got to work at what seemed an impossible task. However, my three year old looked around and collapsed in despair. “I neeeeed heelllppp.”
I gently reminded him that he had to help with this job if he were to watch Paw Patrol with his sister. My reminders fell on deaf ears as he proceeded to lay on the floor and whine that it was too hard to clean up.
Meanwhile, big sister had started to make a dent in the mess around him.
“Look, Tyler! Adelyn has already done a lot of it for you. You just need to get up and help her. Start with putting the books away.”
“I caaaann’t… It’s toooo haaarrd”
By the time Tyler decided he was actually capable of putting some toys away, his dutiful sister had already cleaned up two-thirds of the room and was willing to finish it up in order to watch the show. While he did eventually end up helping clean up the mess, it was done with a loathing, resentful heart.
From a parental perspective, it was so easy to see that Tyler could easily do the work set before him. It was obvious that the task took twice as long because he spent so much time complaining and whining about how hard his job was. He pretty much gave up and declared defeat before he even started.
The truth is, I’ve had my share of Tyler moments in parenting. After a long night with a newborn, I wake up and agonize over the day ahead. There have been seasons where I simply don’t want to do this job that God has put before me. Because as you know, parenting is WORK. Yes, it’s full of blessings, rewards and unexplainable big feelings but there is a hefty amount of grueling work required in this parenting gig.
Like Tyler, I sometimes just want to cry out, “I caann’t!” I want to lay on the floor and let the little people parent themselves. I want presanctified children who can make themselves a bowl of cereal and simply entertain themselves without creating a mess, stain, spill or injury. Sometimes I just look at the task of parenting that day and give up on being able to do it before I even try.
Here’s the good news though.
With each kid, I have seen growth in myself. I’ve learned the hard way that throwing a pity party does nothing. If anything, it isolates you even more. No one wants to be around someone who is rolling on the floor whining about how hard life is. I’m learning, especially with the addition of the third kid, to simply dig in and do the hard work.
Sometimes, the job before me seems huge and slightly impossible. Especially on very little sleep night after night (after night, after night…). But, when we simply choose to dig in, do the work that God has put before us, we can see a dent.
Change the diaper, nurse the baby, brush the teeth, ponytail the hair, clip the nails, bandaid the boo-boos–even if they aren’t really there.
Make the meal, cut the toast just right, reheat yesterday’s coffee, clean up the spill, enforce the meal time rules, feed the dog, reheat the coffee.
Keep on digging…
Rebuke the harsh words exchanged, talk through the tantrums, enforce the timeout, reteach repentance and forgiveness, give a much needed hug, apologize when needed, soothe the baby.
Sweep the crumbs, clean up the potty accident, pack the lunch, start the laundry, find the missing shoe, buckle the carseats, nurse the baby—again.
Dig deep, mama.
Give affection. Praise their growth. Blow a raspberry on the belly. Sing a silly song. Kiss the husband. Smile.
And when you think you are done, dig in even deeper.
Practice gratefulness, fight selfishness, pray for your people, cling to scripture—even if you only have time to read one verse that day, fight comparison, encourage a friend, pour yourself out and love fiercely.
Yes, moms. The task before us is HARD. It is work. It is task that sometimes just seems unending and impossible to keep doing. Yet, rather than complaining and floundering, put one foot in front of the other and do the hard work. Don’t allow yourself to despair. Start small and you’ll see progress. Keep moving forward with a steadfast heart. Realize that your heavenly Father has put this work before you and it is your job. Embrace it the hard work.