Imagine with me for a moment…
Your alarm goes off at 6a. You quietly and carefully lift your body over the baby’s in an attempt to turn it off before he wakes. You gently fall back into your sleeping space and drift off to sleep. It was a long night. A few more minutes of rest won’t hurt anyone.
630a rolls around and you hear your five year old walk past your bedroom door and down the stairs. You think, “Thank goodness he can help himself to a banana and cereal.” He’s found the box of legos and quietly entertains himself while you catch those extra Zzz’s.
7a hits and all of a sudden it’s as if you were hit with a truck. Your three year old and two year old (who share a bedroom) are standing at their doorway hollering, “Mama! We’re awake! We want to come out!” Because you were smart enough to know two little girls can wreck havoc on a house if they happen to wake and you do not.
You crawl over the baby, hoping and praying he stays asleep at least for a few more minutes until you can gain some ground. But as soon as your feet hit the floor, his eyes snap open and he immediately begins crying for Mama. You hold him in your arms and sleepily stumble to let the girls out of their room. The two year old wants to be picked up too so you shift Baby to one hip and plop the toddler on the other. Good luck walking down that flight of stairs.
Before you reach the landing, the five year old is greeting you with “Good morning, Mama!” followed immediately with, “I’m hungry.” The toddler and three year old follow you around like little chickens looking for their morning meal. You hand out bananas all around in hopes that it buys you enough time to cook up some oatmeal or throw together fruit and muffins. Let’s be honest though, many days a simple bowl of cereal will have to suffice (sometimes even dry.)
The three “big” kids sit to the table to eat so you take the baby to the couch to nurse in a slightly more comfortable fashion. How much trouble can the kids get into at the table, right?
Wrong. Before you know it, the toddler has dumped her entire bowl of cereal on to the table and you find her running around the house with messy hands and a bib full of food. You know if you stop nursing at that moment, you’ll not only have a mess to clean up, but a screaming baby as well so you just sit, and snuggle, and put the mess out of your mind for a brief moment.
After all, babies are only babies for so long. Messes happen every single day. And you are only given one life to live and one chance to raise these precious children.
I wish I could say the end to this story is how I respond to this very real scenario. However, it is not. I am not always as gracious or patient or kind. Many times I lose my temper and show outward signs of frustration and annoyance. Many mornings I find myself wanting to cry and praying someone will call or make a surprise visit just to help me regain some sanity.
I share all this to let you know, parenting is hard. The little years are hard. They are exhausting and filled with messes, crying, and repeating the same things over and over and OVER again. But these years are so precious. We only get one shot at them. Rather than fight against them, I am slowly learning how to love the little years, tantrums, messes, chaos, and all.
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These little years, while an incredible test of patience and self-control, are also filled with countless hugs and sloppy kisses, mud pies baked just for you, and dandelion bouquets on every family walk. These little years not only allow us to teach our children about the love of Christ, they teach us what it means to love like Christ.
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Don’t wish away the little years just to gain a little peace. Just as these years are meant for training up a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), they are also being used to mold, shape, and form you into the woman God wants you to be.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Post contributed by Stephanie of Abundant Living