I am not sure that I have felt such an overwhelming bounty of feelings at any other one point in my life, as i do now! Oh the paradoxes in parenting!
It’s 11:10pm, my husband is deep in Africa for work and my children are deep in dreamland. Everything seems to have right sized itself after a few unruffled hours alone. The debris from the day has begun to settle and I am just me. Me and God.
In the last pre bed hour, i’ve dashed between baby and toddler…. a mouth of butternut mush here, a real live tea party gone wrong on the bed there, pacifying a screaming baby here, calming down a spinning princess there…. with cats meowing for food in-between and a steaming cup of hopeful coffee quickly becoming a cold concept.
I know that the cliched remedy at ‘crazy hour’ is for a glass or ten of wine… and I truly do get it (more than ever with two littles) but I actually find the most powerful reset button is quietly standing over my sleeping children and breathing in the perspective that only these moments can give: Miraculously, monster sized threenagers become little three year olds again and tiny babies appear a little longer than they did the day before. Seeing my children’s innocent chests rise and fall and kissing their little squished beaks and cheeks is like drinking in a concoction of love and awe… sometimes spiked with a dash of ‘I will do better tomorrow’.
How could my day have possibly felt so difficult… I mean I’m not running a country? I’m just taming a whirlwind whilst trying to clean up active volcanos with an earbud… pffft!! But in all seriousness, it’s not just about spilt milk! I often wonder how such a short person who has only been around for 3 summers can push me to lose my patience like no south african taxi driver has ever done? It’s far easier when you can dress them in what you want and shovel pureed food into little mouths that can’t chat back. Im realising two things fast – my patience has not been perfected (I might need to add long suffering, and a couple other fruits into that basket too) and perhaps I sometimes hold a miniature magnifying glass too close to the investment. I have to remind myself that parenting is not a sprint. If it were then I would need to deal more harshly with the fact that many days don’t produce an obvious ‘win’… but at the same time I need to continually invest an imperative daily dose of effort,values and responsibility, as if i were parenting just for today. I see you, paradox. Each day interminably adds up!
Then there are those glorious days that I proudly wear my red cape to bed… and only I know it. I bask not merely in having ‘done’ it all but in having found depth, hugs, breakthro and perspective in the doing. I’m fuelled when I see my toddler respond well, completing the day with sincere & thoughtful little chats about life, by torchlight. I’m fuelled when I have managed to get my baby octopus curled back into his foetal position and i’ve created a healthy meal to enjoy with my husband… at a reasonable time. The simplest things have become so meaningful.
We mustn’t be too quick to place black dots or even gold stars on each other or on our own parenting. It’s great to encourage and take leaves from each others books BUT our family stories are all in progress and the fruit of our parenting is not yet fully revealed in a perfected puzzle… or sealed in a toddlers tantrum. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose but it’s so much better to link arms and move forward together with our collective eyes fixed forward and upwards on what is really important.
When I stand alongside both my babies beds, I can often sense God close to me offering grace as I exhale and new mercies that come free with each new day. I feel like He has already started giving me new coordinates and keys which help to reach deeper into my children’s hearts to ultimately unlock His unique destiny for them.
Theres no mistaking it, parenting can be really hard! Good parenting, even harder. I’m not talking about simply procreating, making a living to put a roof over their heads and adding some meaty education. I’m talking about being present, conscious and active in thoughtfully hand-rearing future spearheads, character-filled trailblazers, secure pioneers, fearless innovators, loving groundbreakers, thoughtful world changers, sincere explorers and humble bushwhackers in whichever area of life that may be, whether front or backstage. And of course some kale laden ‘lollipops’ on the side won’t hurt either 🙂
I find it equally sobering and liberating to remember that my children have been given to me by God. They are so close to His heart and His love far exceeds my mortally flawed love. It’s this same love that gently guides, corrects and washes over me, both as a parent under His watch and as a child in His fatherly embrace.
I love how Isaiah 49:11 speaks about God ‘….gently leading those that have young‘. So beautiful. I need it! I need Him each day!
And so I can rest easy tonight because tomorrow holds fresh starts and bright capes or caught tears… and tonight holds a million little kisses on two precious little sleeping heads that I have the honour of loving.