Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This Stage

So this past weekend came with some parenting surprises and challenges. And not in a good way. Man is it humbling to be fully hit with the realization that you DON'T have it all figured out and you have no idea what to do about it. Talk about scary and discouraging. *Deep, heavy sigh.* 

God in His goodness led me to this blog post Friday night... a time in which I'm never reading blog posts or looking for blog posts, and in a way that was totally specific to me and needed by me right then. Mamas of littles, stop right now and read it if you have an extra minute. 


I hope you read it. Because wow. That was definitely written for me (and I'm guessing you too) and I needed that encouragement, confirmation, validation, and reminder big time on Friday night... and again on Saturday and Sunday too. The timing was perfect and evoked all the emotions from this mama.

This stage of life is so much fun and such a joy. I love my boys more than anything and I love experiencing school, sports, holidays, outings, vacations, church, home life, and just the regular old days with them. Sharing in their childhoods is the best. I LOVE us being together and we do less and say no to lots because of our conviction to put family first and spend as much time together as a family of 5 as possible. Being with my family honestly and truly is my very favorite thing.

Staying home almost full time for the past 7 years has been a dream come true for me and something I have never once taken for granted. It's been an answered prayer and a huge, wonderful, amazing blessing for us and our family. I can't even describe the benefits and joys we've experienced because I've been home. I have loved and enjoyed it oh so much. More than words can express.

But, this stage has also come with so many challenges. Endless challenges. Humbling challenges. So. Many. Challenges.

It has come with lots of financial struggles and sacrifices. Most of which we chose to take on so I could be home but which have led to stress on our marriage (and our bank accounts) nonetheless. Plus a whole lot of cutting back, cutting loose, and cutting out. Things have gotten pretty dicey around here before. Like seriously stretched to the max thin. We've been afraid. We've wondered how we could do it but also how we could choose not to do it. It's been so hard each school year to know what we're supposed to do (about me and my teaching degree) and what the very best thing is for our family. Making the decision together for me to stay home as much as possible has been both the BEST and the HARDEST thing we've ever done for our family.

This stage has also brought us more parenting challenges than we ever thought we'd experience. (And our oldest is only 7! Gracious.) Because when those precious babies are born you just can't fathom they would ever make bad choices or be disrespectful or lie to your face or have meltdowns you believe are world record breakers or that they'll ignore you or be unkind or ever do anything "ugly". Ahh but it happens. And you're left with wondering where you went wrong and what happened to your sweet baby. And sometimes you're left with a very real confusion and concern you weren't prepared for. At 7, 4 and 1/2, and 2 our household full of boys is also very much full of parenting challenges, battles of wills, and tears... from parents and kiddos alike. Please Lord let us train them up in the way they should go. 

This stage has come with TONS of responsibility and just stuff to do... taking care of babies, raising boys in the nurture and admonition of Christ, laundry, cleaning house, nap times, bedtimes, bath times, preparing meals, cleaning up crumbs and scrubbing fingerprints, doing homework, doing school projects, changing diapers, breaking up fights, disciplining, training, singing to little boys, reading to little boys, hugging and kissing little boys, yelling at little boys (sad but true), cheering on little boys, chauffeuring little boys, and praying for little boys. I struggle with balance between my children and my marriage, my time with them and away from them, our time at home and our time away, playing with them and having them play independently, etc, etc, etc. On the tough days I feel like I'm not enough... not doing enough, not active enough, not engaging them enough, not spending enough quality time with them, like there's not enough of me to go around. I feel less than adequate as a mom and as a wife.

It's true that this stage is hard. Man is it ever. Which I'm sure every stage and season probably has it's challenges.

But this stage, this in the trenches of motherhood stage with littles and crazy, busy, messy households and tired parents and multitasking and juggling acts and day to day ups and downs, THIS stage is one of the best and sweetest stages we will ever experience. This stage truly is the "good old days". And I'm so thankful God reminded me of that through another's mama's words on Friday night. As hard and challenging as it is, it's just as fun and rewarding and special. It's full of joy and wonder, love and excitement, blessing after blessing. It's the most wonderful thing ever. Not always glamorous (okay pretty much never), not always easy (okay rarely), but oh so wonderful and precious.

This Mother's Day Week I hope you choose joy amid the crazy and really, intentionally enjoy this stage you're in. Things can be so wild around here I forget to stop and pause and enjoy the laughter, fun, and yes even bickering and fighting that goes on almost daily. I forget to appreciate the messes that are evidence of boys playing, having fun, making memories, and experiencing childhood. Things can be so busy around here I forget to savor the practices and games (actually I think I might savor the games because I love them so) and rushing around to make it where we need to be on time. Some days I'm good at pausing and soaking in these moments in time and other days I'm terrible at it. But no matter how hard and challenging and even stressful this stage can be at times, I absolutely LOVE it and recognize these days as the best days.

Being a mama to littles is tough. But it is the biggest blessing. This stage is priceless. Let's enjoy it to the fullest. Happy Mother's Day Week!!!

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