When I see parents of young children, sometimes I have a strong urge to give them a little piece of advice. I don’t want to tell them anything cliche like, “These days go by too fast, treasure them.” Instead, I’d like to tell them something deeper. I’d like to reassure them that I know this stage is challenging and overwhelming, but to hang in there. It’s worth it!
I Remember the Daily Battle
One of my good friends, who is now an empty nester, said raising children with your partner is like surviving a war together. I agree with this!
When my children were young, there were many wonderful and fun times together, but I also recall…
- Living on so little sleep that I once drove away with the bank teller canister and didn’t realize it until I got home.
- Being so busy taking care of everyone else and getting them ready that I walked out the door with one black shoe and one brown shoe.
- Sneaking into my closet to find just one moment of peace from the constant demands and the never-ending squabbling.
- Spending too much money at a restaurant listening to my little ones complain, and my husband and I taking turns walking around instead of eating the food.
- Trying to create a fun memory by going somewhere only to have my children completely melt down. Then, rushing out the door in a frantic panic, wondering why we even tried.
- Having no date nights with my husband because we couldn’t afford or didn’t know a good sitter.
- Going for weeks on end without having a real conversation with my spouse. We were simply too tired from the everyday demands of life, or were constantly interrupted, or forgot how we related to each other before children.
Luckily, Times Change
When children are older, parenting doesn’t miraculously get easier, but I’ve noticed many refreshing differences.
My days are no longer filled with meeting the incessant demands of my children. Instead, I finally have time and space to think, to take care of myself, and to grow as a person.
It is a priority for my husband and I to have regular date nights. When we are together, we are able focus on each other in a fun, carefree way.
Finding the Joy in This Stage of Life
I am still a busy mama to my two children who live at home. Sometimes, I desperately ache for all of them to be little again, and for my older sons to be living under the same roof.
At times, I still just want to book a one way flight to a tropical island because being a mom is tough.
But I’ve found so much joy, too! It’s worth it.
At this stage, there is more focus on relating to children than needing to discipline them. It is amazing to watch children become young adults. To witness them embracing some of your traditions and values, but also discovering who they are and what they want.
Children teach you new ways of thinking and open up your eyes to the world they are exploring. It is amusing to relate to your children as they get older. Those embarrassing and humbling moments are now moments that you can all remember and laugh about.
Children start to notice and to recognize everything that you did for them when they were little, and they take the time to thank you for your effort.
Many partners communicate and relate in new ways that were almost impossible to do with younger children. There is an extra strong bond because you have raised a family together through all the peaks and valleys.
So Please Remember: It’s Worth It
I’d like to offer this encouragement to you while raising young people. I know this stage of life is exhausting and exhilarating, fulfilling and draining. Yet, if you can hang in and survive the constant daily battles, one day you will wake up and realize you survived the challenges. You are a stronger person and you have a beautiful family to show for it, too.
And when you’re in this stage, and you witness another young family, I hope you’ll be brave enough to confidently and lovingly approach them to say, “I know it’s hard. But hang in there. It’s worth it!”