Enduring Difficult Seasons of Parenthood

Motherhood brings me some of the greatest joy I experience.  When my first son was born after 48 hours of serious labor followed by an emergency C-section, I cried as I held him.  I repeated, “I love you” over him and my heart has been echoing that love ever since. 

baby jor 2

My youngest came into our family unexpectedly.  I had given up hope of another child when I found out I was pregnant.  I can’t imagine life without his spirited, tender, silly presence in our family.

Paulie Newborn 2

As much as I love these boys, we go through hard times.  Children test our limits, stretch our capacity to hold it all together and just plain wear us out.  In the toddler years they try on the word “no” in every imaginable form, from the flailing tantrum to the declaration with a stomped foot.  As preschoolers, they are convinced they can do everything themselves – including drawing murals on our walls, spilling the contents of the pantry as they “help” in the kitchen and tracking mud through the freshly cleaned home after they complete a gardening project which involved de-heading all our flowers.  When they hit school age, they can wrestle with us over assignments and challenge bedtime or screen limits.  They fight with siblings.  They dawdle.  They have minds of their own.  Then they hit pre-adolescence and become resident experts who sometimes contend with our opinions and decisions at every turn.

screaming 2

Through it all, we experience the longing for time to stand still so we can fully cherish the gift God has given us in allowing us to influence and shape their lives and hearts.  We stand in awe at the sincerity of their prayers.  As bystanders we delight as they imagine worlds of their own design with friends.  Our homes and yards become filled with mundane objects they have made into treasures.  They see beauty in the simple things and usually tell it like it is.  You don’t need my words to encourage you through the amazing wonder of the sweet moments of motherhood. 

If anything, you need my reminder to make room in your schedule to pause and eat up every drop of goodness.

The tougher times may come in the form of an afternoon when your child hasn’t taken a nap.  Grumpy and unsettled, she cries at the drop of a hat, whines and complains.  You feel like someone took sandpaper to your nervous system.  It might be that one of your children constantly picks on the other or takes a bossy and unsettling tone.  This results in squabbles which unearth the peace and make your home more like a war zone than a haven.  Maybe your teenager takes everything you say to heart.  Misunderstanding and blame permeate your relationship and you feel weary of the challenge of raising an adolescent. 

Skateboard by Gratisography 2

I write many articles, blog posts and am publishing a book on parenthood.  In other places and times, I give you practical tips to help you navigate these challenges so that you can help minimize your children’s misbehavior.  Today I want to give you something different.  My husband and I are parenting our oldest through his teen years.  He’s amazing {take it from me} and also can push every living button I have.  As I have been taking my relationship with him to God in prayer, I received a word of comfort from the Scripture.  I thought it might be a blessing to you.  Sometimes we need a “how to” and on other occasions we need a “me too.”  I’m standing shoulder to shoulder to you as we walk the harder roads of parenting – loving these children through difficulties and hanging onto God with both hands.

We can glory in our sufferings as we mother our children,

knowing that enduring difficulties brings about the ability to hang in there;

and sticking it out with our children, will create in us a character more like Jesus;

and having the likeness of Jesus formed in us, we hope;

and that hope does not disappoint, because it isn’t a hope in circumstances

it isn’t a hope in the outcome in our children’s lives

It is a hope in the God who loves us and who pours His love out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

{The Mother’s rendition of Romans 5:3-5}

Parenthood takes us on a roller coaster ride.  We love beyond measure.  In the process, God uses the challenges and chaos to refine us.  He has been teaching me increasing dependence upon Him as I reluctantly {you heard me} release my children to Him.  We all say the “They are His, not mine,” statements.  We want to mean it.  Below the surface, we feel these are our people.  We own them.  We direct them.  We determine the outcome of their lives.  We believe we hold a key to their destiny.  While we must do all we can to help them prosper, we need to simultaneously understand we are not the director, Holy Spirit or determining factor in their life. 

roller coaster 2

I’m waking up again to several freeing truths:  My children really ARE His.  He cares more than I do – infinitely more.  There are no perfect parents – this includes me and every other person I know.  My children each have a will of their own.  I can’t direct their lives.  I commit to pray over and pour into them.  When all is said and done, I must release them and allow room for failure, for pain, for heartache.  Without that space to fall, how on earth will they ever soar?

These truths go down like horse pills.  When swallowed, I find I am humbled and have a right view of my role in their lives.  I don’t abdicate my responsibility nor do I shirk my God-given authority as a parent.  What I do is acknowledge my great limitations, my imperfections and God’s even greater love and capacity to do what I simply can not. 

My heart for you as I wrote this post was to give you encouragement as you parent your child through all the seasons of their life.  Cherish the good.  Pray through the difficult.  Hang onto God and remember the fruit He will bring in you and through you as you persevere through parenting trials.

What parenting challenges are you facing?  How can I pray for you?  I would love to hear from you here or on the Hearts Homeward Facebook page

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  • Reply
    Michelle Waldrip
    March 9, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    Another good one, Patty! One tiny thing that jumped out at me: “He cares more than I do.” I love when I’m reminded of this – that if I love these children (and other family and friends that I worry about in love), how much more does God love them? If I would, in my best moments, show them compassion no matter what they do and give them every good thing I could, God feels infinitely the same! Entrusting these precious people in our lives to the Lord is absolutely the best thing we can do. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    Thanks, Michelle! It is so evident that He loves more, yet we forget. When situations are not going the way we want them to – people we love suffer or are not making choices we wish they would, we want God to exercise His power to change things. God knows better. We have to remind ourselves and one another of His goodness and faithfulness. Lately I’ve been saying, “He’s the God of the 40 years in the desert,” meaning He isn’t in the rush we are. His purposes are deeper and more elevated and He won’t rush the process.

    Thanks for chiming in here. It’s always good to hear from you.

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