It’s been a long day parenting. Yes it has. Parenting has some very, very long days. It has been said about parenting that the years are short and yet the days are long… and I have found this to be so very true.
One of the biggest challenges of parenting is choosing again and again to be in the moment instead of checking out or looking to what’s next; to be engaged instead of distracted. One of the biggest challenges for me is entering into each season and fully engaging in the grit of its everyday struggles rather than wishing them away and hoping for the next one or waiting for the next big thing to come along.
What is it about our human nature that is always longing for the next thing? As a new parent I found myself often looking to the next phase: when he sleeps through the night it will all be good; when he is potty trained it will be so much better; when he stops throwing tantrums we will be okay; when he is in school I will finally get a break; when he can just get himself ready in the morning without all the nagging… The list goes on and on.
What is it about human nature that makes it so hard for us to embrace the now? What is it about us that makes us long for the next as if it will deliver something the present will not? I have been slow to learn that the next season is never actually what I thought it would be and doesn’t always deliver what I thought it would.
I think we have bought into a lie as a culture that says, “what we have now is not enough.” Many of us have boarded a magical train that’s promised to take us to this place in the future where all of our present struggles will no longer remain- where there are magic laundry fairies and where diapers and dirty dishes no longer exist.
In this magical future place, I have amazing chore charts for all of my kids appropriate to their developmental stages and I do not have to remind them what to do, or to pick up their clothes, or toys, or to STOP FIGHTING…for the love all things, please!
In this magical future, I am coaching soccer teams, I am president of the PTA, and I am balancing our budget, I am wearing stilettos while cooking a homemade organic meal prepared from my garden, I am sewing curtains and crafting…
But seriously, why is it that I think in the future I will magically have a greater capacity and apparently so much more time on my hands – and how is it that I will magically transform into someone I am not?
What I’ve found again and again is that when I get to “the future,” as in now, there is never enough time and there are always new challenges to face. What I’ve found is that in the future, I am still me- with all my gifting and strengths, and all my same inadequacies and shortcomings. Hopefully, I’ve grown through the last phase and I have more to offer the world around me, but the bottom line is- the next phase is never just what I thought it would be.
What I am coming to realize is that now is now. And now is enough.
I have a feeling many of us who are tired parents will one day, when we are really old and grey, look back at these full, exhausting days and say, “THOSE were the days.”
I am coming to realize that there will always be a next thing to long for and that that next thing will not deliver in the way that I thought it would. I’m coming to realize that everything we need is right in front of us. We already have it! It is here.
I am coming to see the everyday, mundane days as sacred and something not to be missed. I am coming to see beauty in the hard, tiring moments as a parent because these are the moments when we and our children are shaped the most. These are the moments that are an opportunity to connect on a deep, soul-level with our kids.
I am coming to see that in the moments in between the tantrums and the fighting- the sweet, small moment when my boys let me in on their secret handshake, or when my little one tells me I’m his “special buddy”, or when one kid does something silly and we all laugh- THESE are the moments.
Our kids will only be this age once. This day is the only chance I will get to live today to the fullest. And I want to embrace, embrace, embrace it.
Today is the day. These are the days!!
TODAY holds the thing I am longing for. If I slow down long enough to look around, I can see it.
My kids will only be this age right now. THIS moment is the only time in history that THIS moment will ever happen again and I don’t want to let it pass me by while I am waiting for the next thing. This moment is it. And while parenting is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and while some of the days are OH SO LONG- this is it. Here I am.
So this is a reminder to myself and hopefully it can encourage some of you as well.
These are the days. This is it: the moments in between the “THE Moments.”
The season before the season we are looking for is what it is all about. Now is now. These are the days.