“I honestly thought this would be easier by now.
I keep waiting for someday.
When the baby starts sleeping through the night.
When the added babies have a coordinated nap schedule.
When they can wipe their own behind ends.
When the oldest finally starts preschool.
When they are all in school all day.
When they can make their own lunches and tie their own shoes.
When they can do homework on their own and help around the house.
When they can drive and get me stuff at the store.
When and when and when…
It is just surely going to get easier… right?
Yet I’ve now gone through all those when’s and how in the world is it that I’m as exhausted as ever?
Why does parenting actually seem to be getting harder and harder?
But I forget.
It was hard back then too.
Right out of the gate the baby I envisioned laying on the crib drifting off to sleep like the baby in the Pampers commercial (not the one crying in the crib in the off-brand diapers) never materialized.
No matter what kind of diapers I used I had the crier.
This taught me nothing apparently, and so I clung to this vision of the teenagers that my babies would grow into, the kind that stepped right out of the Brady Bunch and who’s misadventures would only include run-ins with hair dye or a bumped nose or making up a fake boyfriend.
(I blame so much of my false visions of teenager parenting on my early TV watching, but no regrets…I love you forever Brady’s).
Just like the Pampers baby my Brady kids never materialized.
Instead, I find I’m raising honest to goodness real humans with flaws and gifts and who are living in this broken world with all its temptations and all the messiness that comes with it.
And it’s all way harder than Mike and Carol and Alice made it look… although I do think having my own Alice would be helpful.
Heck, even my own parents made it look effortless (here I credit their insane wisdom coupled with my above-average Catholic guilt for my subsequent good-ish behavior. I had to have been easier right mom and dad? Throw me a bone here…).
But I’m not raising me. And it’s a different time. And all that….blah, blah, blah.
So here I am…still figuring it out day to day just like when I had a newborn.
And I’m just as unsure of myself as when we brought our firstborn home from the hospital and couldn’t figure out what to do with her when we ate dinner. So, we legit set her in the middle of the table and just stared at her, watching her breathe as we ate.
By the third or fourth kid, teenagers are sure to feel more effortless just as it did with babies. We figured it out and not every baby had to be set in the middle of the table so we could check their breathing. Do there’s that.
I’ll keep hoping and praying.
But right now the teenagers? All the nopes on having these people figured out.
Yet just like when they were babies I love them more and more each and every day.
They amaze me when they change and grow and I cheer on their milestones.
I’m here to catch them when they fall and teach them what I can.
And I keep learning and trying and apologizing and occasionally succeeding.
But always, always, always loving these gifts from God (while also still wishing they came with some sort of instruction manual).
It’s different but so very the same.
So we cling to the thing we know and we focus on the love.
You can never go wrong focusing on loving your people for who they are and loving them well.
Here’s to the one parenting strategy we are all equipped with…we have love.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hiding in the Closet with Coffee by Amy Betters-Midtvedt. The article originally appeared here. Follow Amy on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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