These were not exactly encouraging words when I was feeling at my limit physically and emotionally.
Now, being in the shoes of that other mom, I can see what she was saying. Undoubtedly, those first years of parenting are the most physically exhausting, I will not debate that. There is the interrupted sleep, nursing of babies, helping with dressing and personal hygiene, communication difficulty, and an insatiable desire for play that are unequaled at any other stage.
The part that makes this beginning stage the best is the complete dependence and uninhibited adoration the children display. Each
child is a clean slate ready for us to write the way they should go upon. We are their number one; this is their most moldable stage of life.
The part that makes this beginning stage the easiest is everything is black and white. This is foundation laying time and clear direction, expects clear obedience. However mom and dad decide to run things is how it goes, they run the schedule. Consistency reaps quick rewards.
While nursing babies, helping with hygiene and being their chief playmate may drop off, other things start to come in. As children grow up they get home later and they still interrupt sleep. Helping on and off with their clothes tends to end, yet the monitoring of clothes becomes an even more difficult task. At first the children didn’t have the words to communicate; older children don’t want to use words to communicate. (Attitudes are shown more than talked through.) At every stage play has a strong pull; it takes great persistence to point a child toward worthy tasks, plus doing them well not just quickly.
As children grow up they require more listening to. Much of figuring out life comes through thinking out loud. A wise parent takes time to listen and listen and listen. Most of our training words got used up in the earlier stage, now we must guide carefully and pray the Lord speaks loudly in our child’s ear. (This is hard to explain, parents still need to speak wisdom and guide their children, it is just with sensitivity to letting them figure out what they think and believe along the way.)
What makes the older child stage tough is the emotional and mental energy required. Because the needs are not as obvious as helping putting on their boots, it can be easy to miss what is needed. Alertness is ever required of a parent of preteen and teens. There are many more outside influences as they get older, a parent must work hard to monitor these.
Then we have the adult child stage to look forward to. I pray with a woman who has three married daughters. We pray weekly for these families, often with tears. Now a parent’s hands are tied. They feel their child’s pain, yet, a hug doesn’t make the pain go away. Prayer is a parent’s constant companion. Only a parent can feel so desperately for their child and intercede diligently on their behalf. Again we are brought back to exhaustion, laying ourselves out before the Lord for our children.
Once a parent, always a parent. What a glorious use of a life.