The Pain in Parenting

I’ve been mulling over how to share this part of my heart for awhile now. You see, a couple weeks ago I had string of a bunch of really really bad days in a row. It was the week following the time change, and my girl was STRUGGLING. Every day, multiple times a day, she would explode into a horrible, nasty, uncontrollable meltdown. The trigger was always something small (of course!), but she would spiral out of control and it took nearly an hour every time to calm her down. I was so at a loss with how to deal with her. I was exhausted. My husband was exhausted. It seemed like nothing we did helped. I felt incompetent as a mother. I really can’t describe how bad it was, for awhile I was seriously considering the possibility that maybe she had some kind of psychological issue. I couldn’t get homeschool done with my older child, or much of anything done at all. I felt like I was in a war and she was the enemy.

Did you catch that? I started to view her as the enemy. 

I didn’t even realize that was how I was seeing her until that Tuesday morning. We had had a no-good very very very bad morning trying to get her up and ready to go to our CC homeschool group. She refused to get dressed. She refused to potty. She refused to eat anything for breakfast. When we finally got in the car, she screamed the whole way there. I arrived late and in tears. A sweet friend hugged me, and we commiserated together because one of her sons has had some similar moments. She is the one who said those words to me “it got to the point where I started to view him as the enemy.” That’s when it hit me, I was doing the same thing!

No one prepared me for the pain I would feel sometimes as a parent. Parenting hurts at times. I mean really really wounding, painful, hurt. When you feel overwhelmed, at a loss, and unequipped, it’s HARD. Of course, many people told me over my lifetime that parenting is work, but mostly people talked about how joy-filled parenthood is.

  • No one told me about the emotional exhaustion I would experience as I have a child struggling, and I have no idea how to help or discipline. No one told me how helpless I would feel when all my options seem to be striking out.
  • No one told me how ashamed I would be when my head hits the pillow at night and I realize I’ve barely said two words to my husband, because at the end of the day I don’t have anything left to give.
  • No one told me how confusing it would feel to love a little person so so so much, and yet feel angry, upset, and exasperated with them at the same time.

Because the truth is, as bad as girlfriend’s behavior was over that very long week, I was absolutely not responding in the right way. So when my friend made me realize that I was viewing her as the enemy, something in my heart shifted. I had a good talk with her, and another friend who gave me some practical advice that I’ve been applying. My husband and I talked at length about what to do, and I prayed. And as I prayed, I realized something very powerful – this pain, this exhaustion, it’s a refining process. Nothing in my life has brought me to the feet of the Father more than motherhood – not my marriage, not my personal struggles or other relationships, but my kids, man have they drastically improved my prayer life!

I stopped seeing my little girl as the one I’m fighting against, but rather the one I’m fighting for. I care about her little heart because she is not the enemy. I realize that these struggles, though so difficult, are for my good and His glory. I’ve been working hard to implement some things into our lives to make our days go smoothly, and set a standard of expectations. I’ve apologized to my kids for losing my temper at times. And, since that day, thankfully mercifully we’ve not had any more full-blown extreme tantrums. We’ve had difficult moments for sure, but things have improved greatly. I know eventually it will happen again, but I don’t live in fear of it.

It’s easy to feel jaded and bitter and like you’ve been dealt an unfair hand of difficulties. Why does my kid have to be that kid? You know, the one screaming in the grocery store!  Before I had children, I definitely said out loud “my kid will never act like that in public.” Let’s all take a moment to laugh about that together. It’s hard to feel blessed in the midst of a grocery store meltdown; however, I’m reminded of my friends that have lost children, the ones who’ve been trying to get pregnant for years, the ones hoping to adopt. I’m reminded of my friends who’ve had foster children that they love be taken back to poor circumstances. I’m reminded of my friends who’ve miscarried over and over again.

I would never want to dishonor their loss and their longing with my undue frustration. I’m sure they would endure a week of horrible tantrums to hold a sweet baby in their arms. And I get that their pain is not caused by my own parental struggles, but when I think  about them, I’m so utterly grateful that I can’t help but feel guilty for my complaint. My children are one of the biggest joys of my life! Each day, I’ve started making it a point to tell them something specific I love about them, for example:

Turner: 

  • I love that he’s a bookworm and will sit with me for endless amounts of time while I read to him. Since he was a baby, we’d devour stacks of books together.
  • I love that he is becoming a little artist. He doodles and draws constantly, and his art is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!
  • I love that he is a foodie. He loves shrimp, and brussels sprouts, and olives.
  • I love his kindness and tender heart.

Liza Jill: 

  • I love her cute voice and how she phrases things.
  • I love her hugs and how affectionate she is.
  • I love to watch her take her doctor kit and give all of her babies and stuffed animals check-ups.
  • I love that she makes up adorable songs, mostly about whatever objects she’s seeing in the room, and sings them for me.

That horrible awful week has brought me to a place of gratitude. I’m so thankful to be home with these two little ones. I’m so grateful to be on this journey of homeschool. I don’t know if we will homeschool forever, but I’m sure going to try and soak it up while I can! This pain that I experience at times is so worth it.

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Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll stay with me. I know my posts have been few and far between, but I’ve got some exciting things planned! Stay tuned for more on our journey to less with a post about my kids’ capsule-inspired wardrobe. AND, I’m planning a super fun curriculum post! I’ve just ordered everything for preschool and first grade, and I can’t wait to share my haul with you, sneak peak below!! Full post coming soon!

curriculum

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Pain in Parenting

  1. Your words are applicable to my season of parenting as well. Just because a child makes choices that frustrate and upset you doesn’t make him or her the enemy. I’ve said those words to God, “I’m claiming her for You. I’m fighting for her soul. The enemy can’t have him.” Now, I have to change my thinking — he/she is not the enemy … just being attacked by him. As for you and your young ones, parenting is so DAILY! Give yourself little breaks, exercise, sing, breathe, take bubble baths, do what it takes to soak sanity into your soul … the Holy Spirit will meet you there!

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