This post was inspired by responding to Jeff Goins’ article on new parenthood. I decided to expand on my comment on his site and create my own little article…
Kids can definitely drive you crazy. Where you may have once lived a relatively planned and well-organised life – featuring social events, regular sleep and quiet interludes, you can guarantee that kids will cause quite a disruption to any semblance of ‘normal’ that you experienced before their arrival. A friend of mine used to speak in terms of BC and AC – before and after children.
The best way to describe the parenting process from my perspective would be “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (to pinch a quote from Dickens). Raising three boys has been, and still is, the challenge of my life.
The joys and trials of raising children fluctuate inconsistently from week to week. There are so many variables that you can’t control, from crying to stubborn personalities to illnesses or allergies. It takes time to get used to these things, along with a measure of emotional energy.
To survive the wildly random nature of parenting I’m convinced requires two things: acceptance and perseverance. Acceptance of the fact that it WILL be difficult at times and that you won’t be an instant pro, despite all your preconceived notions. Perseverance to keep going even at your lowest moment when you feel like a complete and utter failure as a parent.
It’s a humbling process. Soon after the birth of your first child there’s usually a rude awakening that brings every ounce of hidden selfishness to the surface which reveals a side of you that you didn’t think existed. As time goes on, this unwelcome, other side of you is likely to emerge more often. (This can be pretty scary, when you used to view yourself as a laid back, reasonable, well-adjusted person.)
Learning to tame your raw, inner beast that wants to respond in anger or despair is not so simple as it seems. Sleeplessness and monotony play a large part in the battle. Face it – most people are not able to operate in the same way after less than five hours sleep, followed by eight hours or more in the company of unreasonable small beings. (Add in a headache, the need to stay in for the washing machine repair guy, and rain pouring down outside – and the situation intensifies.)
Just when I thought I’d got this parenting thing sussed, feeling quite pleased with the lovely three and five year old boys I’d produced (after much effort and training and wisdom on my part – or so I thought!) – things were thrown off balance when a third child was thrown into the mix. That’s when I started to really learn that I cannot do this long-term child rearing project on my own. That I need the guidance of others and the grace of God. Oh the wonder of grace – to be not so harsh on yourself and admit you need God’s help.
It’s a major learning curve, one that I’ve stumbled over many a time. Parenthood is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
But there is joy. And laughter. And awe and amazement at these little beings that resemble your likeness and make your life so much richer. And as you try to bring them up right and influence them for good, you realize that they are changing you – your priorities, your perspective, your character, your future. These are the incredible aspects of that crazy thing called ‘parenthood’. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.