Parenting Doesn’t Get Easier. But We Can Go Easy on Other Parents

That screaming boy in Target.

That mismatched messy girl in the restaurant.

That eye roll.

I have silently judged, questioned and mentally accused the mothers of these children.

Because I was an excellent mother-

Before I had kids.

And then I became a mom and I discovered just how wrong I’d been.

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Because if the world judged how great a mom I was by my well-behaved kids who are styled to perfection without ever displaying attitude or laziness–I would be in deep trouble.

Parenting is hard.

The kind of hard that knocks you off your feet, leaves you gasping for air, and has you wondering what the heck just happened all before 8 a.m.

I used to think if I could just get them to sleep through the night or eat their veggies or stop crying, or pick up their toys, or stop fighting with their siblings, or make a new friend, or get a better grade or stop slamming their doors, or fill in the blank–then parenting would be easier.

But then I realized parenting doesn’t get easier.

It just changes.

I understand now that the little boy is probably screaming in Target because his mom told him no. She is being consistent even though it’s hard. She’s second-guessing herself and she really just wants to cry along with him.

I get the mismatched messy girl at the restaurant because that mom chose her battle. She let the little things go and is just simply doing her best.

I can now appreciate letting teenagers get away with the eye roll. Because you can’t win them all.

Once I heard a exuberant, quirky guest speaker say, “You might think I’m wrong because I do things different than you do. You might wonder why I get excited more than most or pump my fist or jump up and down. You might judge me. Go ahead. Because you don’t know the road I’ve walked. You can’t understand that this fist bump means I haven’t quit. This jump means I will not give up. I may not do things the way you do them, but I do it my way for a reason. And that doesn’t make me wrong.”

The thing is we may never understand why other parents do what they do. And then again, we may totally get it when we reach that next trying and beautiful phase.

But the truth is we all know how hard parenting is. We all try to do our best, hoping we offer our kids mercy or justice when it’s needed most. We all love our children. The last thing we need is to second guess the way someone else is parenting.

An encouraging word, a kind look, a sympathetic smile can change someone’s day. Including your own.

And if your a parent, you’re going to need it.

 


WFMW: Saying YES is Always More Than You Bargained For

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I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jennifer for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

When I said “Yes!” to my younger daughter’s life, refusing to discuss termination with my doctor, I had no idea what that would mean. All indications were, despite the doctor’s fears, that our daughter was just fine. Later we realized that she does, indeed, have medical and neurodevelopmental issues, and she is a struggling learner too. All of this information has come to us little by little, although we realized at birth that she was a bit different.

I had no idea that saying yes to my daughter’s life would mean an entirely different life for our family—other than the changes that come with adding another family member to our household. I had no idea that, nine years later, therapy sessions and evaluations, behavioral therapy sessions, specialist appointments, and weekly immunoglobulin infusions would be “normal” for us.

Saying yes to our daughter’s life also meant that my dreams for my writing changed. God’s plans were entirely different from my own. He has gradually opened up an entire speaking and writing ministry to families of children with special needs. He’s very serious about 2 Corinthians 1:4. He never wastes a single hard thing in our lives.

Saying YES is Always More Than You Bargained For - wearethatfamily.com

But saying yes also brought other changes to our lives that I didn’t expect. I never dreamed that I would rejoice over my child making eye contact for longer than a few seconds at a time. I never imagined that we would all get excited about our daughter wearing a different type of clothing or trying a different type of food. I didn’t expect to smell everything I come into contact with, trying to imitate her behavior and experience the world similar to the way she does. I never dreamed I would sit next to her almost every day for years, watching her persevere at the learning that comes so hard to her, watching her struggle, and then finally hearing her read a few words fluently.

I never dreamed that I could be so in love with a child whose future is so uncertain. I never imagined that God would give me an even clearer picture of His love for me in all my struggles and imperfections through this child He blessed me with.

I didn’t expect to grow even closer to God as I dropped to my knees over and over again, asking for wisdom to raise this child, asking for help to pay for the things she needs, asking for favor with therapy facilities, specialists, and insurance companies. I didn’t expect to be so comforted in the good times and bad, knowing that He’s walking alongside me.

I didn’t expect to see His miracles in my family’s life, over and over again. I didn’t expect my daughter’s struggles to cause both of my daughters to develop character traits and a dependence on God that will serve them well for the rest of their lives—and I can’t wait to see how He uses all of this to bless others.

And while I wonder about the future and what God might do between now and then, He makes sure that we’re filled with joy, even during the hard times. My precious daughter adds so much love and laughter to our lives. Like this morning, while we were doing her math lesson, I asked her to write the numbers 35 to 100, counting by fives. She looked at me and said, “To 100? Doesn’t that seem a little extreme?” After I insisted she could do it, she proceeded to count by fives to 110. So there.

Saying YES to God is a scary but exhilarating thing to do. No matter what your YES is or where it leads you, you can be sure it will be more than you bargained for!

 

Bio:

2013 headshot (1)Jennifer Janes lives in Arkansas with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys reading, writing, speaking, drinking iced tea, crocheting, using blue ink when she writes longhand, and spending time with friends and family. She writes about faith, family, and parenting and homeschooling a child with special needs on her blog, Jennifer A. Janes.


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