Parenting is so much like a game of Jumanjii, isn’t it? You encounter one challenging stage, and attack it as best as you know how, breathing a sigh of relief when you begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel…. only to realize that light is just the headlights of a train coming at you with another complicated stage to try to overcome. We trade helpless newborns for crawlers who pick up choking hazards and trade them for toddlers who throw tantrums and each stage of parenting presents itself with an entirely new set of rules and challenges in a foreign language for us to decipher and pray we are doing a decent job.
I feel like I’m in a stage right now that’s a lot like quick sand. The past 6 weeks… probably longer if I’m really honest… have been incredibly challenging for me as a parent. I’ve choked back and cried more tears in the past month than I care to admit. And I’m not a crier. I’ve felt like I’m in such a joyless phase of parenting, where days go by without me feeling an ounce of joy in my role as a parent. Where I feel like I’m utterly failing each of my kids in one way or another and I’m not cut out at all for this job. I’ve questions so many times why God trusted me with these 4 human beings and prayed for more patience, love and grace for the next day only to fall into the same joyless pattern the next day. Between our chaotic fall schedule, lack of downtime to connect as a family, an almost teen navigating middle school and a new educational platform, a child who has multiple challenges at school and trying to find answers to help him, and two little girls who just want the attention of a tired, stretched too thin mama… I have felt like I’m treading water and barely keeping my head above. The days seem to go by with me just wishing for it to be over so I can sit down all the spinning plates I’m trying to keep from falling. And I find by the end of the day I’ve felt little joy in my role as a mom, leaving me incredibly sad and wondering what I’m doing wrong.
Tonight, however, I caught a glimpse of happiness. I skipped Porters football game and gave myself permission to not micromanage all the incomplete work Hudson would likely bring home. The girls spent hours playing together, giggling and imagining and tickling and building forts and dancing. Hudson and I tackled his homework and I met him in the middle and accommodated his struggle areas. We put on music and cleaned the house, and Hudson even got dishes done in a record amount of time. The girls got themselves in the the bath, and bedtime was oddly a breeze. And at the end of the day there was 20 minutes left to challenge Hudson in a game of Slap Jack. His giggles are so contagious I can’t even explain. I needed that 20 minutes most to connect with him again, as my son… not the child I’m trying to figure out a way to fix. Porter came home from his game in a jovial mood (ha! One of his homework vocab words from yesterday!) and for the first time in 6 weeks I ended the day feeling like i might just be able to figure out how to tread the water and stay afloat.
I’m not sure what the days ahead will throw at us but I’m pretty sure it’s those little seeds of hope like tonight that keep us pushing through, knowing that this too shall pass. That this stage we are in will slowly phase out and just as we realize we made it through and begin celebrating, we’ll have another stage to figure out how to navigate. Pretty much like Jumanji.