Personal Growth During the Season of Parenting Young Children
There are so many beautiful moments found in the season of parenting young children.
Moments I would not change for the world: so much love, so much life.
Long days and short years.
Hours spent at the beach collecting precious rocks, shells, sea glass, and other questionable-smelling things.
Picnics during which more sand was eaten than sandwiches.
Hikes and road trips we vow never to repeat because inevitably, at least one kid is guaranteed to whine the whole time. Yet somehow, soon after, we only recall the fun parts, and we subject ourselves to another adventure.
Parenting little children is like having ice cream for dinner after a long, hot summer day. The line is long, and everyone looks haggled, hot and tired. Unsure whether to laugh or cry. The picnic tables are covered in old sticky ice cream and a rainbow sprinkle explosion. By the end, everyone is as sticky as the table and somehow covered in rainbow sprinkles.
There have been so many big and small moments that I am truly blessed to have experienced.
I have been able to be present for my kids at every stage of their lives so far.
I am their rock, their constant- and I’m happy to be that.
I know how much I have gained in becoming their Mom.
They have given me a full heart- and full hands.
I feel guilty even admitting that I feel like I have lost myself. Because, maybe, if I admit it out loud, then it means that I don’t appreciate all the beautiful gifts this life has given me.
Maybe then, I don’t deserve those gifts.
As a mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, neighbor, helper, and listener of all the problems, I have gotten used to putting myself last. Pieces of myself passed out to everyone who needs me. Small pieces carved away, a little bit here, a little bit there in little inconspicuous ways. Until one day, I realize that I no longer even resemble myself, or at least the person I once was anymore.
I wonder who I am amid all this life and love, its highs and lows, the diapers and rainbow sprinkle explosions.
It was a shocking realization, though it shouldn’t have been.
It's kind of like getting big macs for dinner every night and not exercising, then being horrified when you step on the scale.
There was no balance in my life.
I felt like I had lost myself because I had given every single ounce of myself to those I love.
It wasn’t my husband's fault. He did and does support me in all the ways a wonderful spouse should.
It wasn’t my kid's fault; they needed me in all sorts of ways- and still do though it is ever-evolving.
Honestly, it wasn’t even my own fault.
The season of life with babies, any young kids, is so emotionally draining.
Sometimes, things have to be off-balance in this season of life, and there’s just no way around it.
Days when you can NOT call into work one more time, but your kid is throwing up, again (undoubtedly on a carpet, couch, or some other hard-to-clean surface), and you HAVE to call in.
Parties that you want to attend but you know you’ll just be chasing your kids around hoping they don’t break something, so you decline.
Hobbies you want to get back into, but your kids also want to play sports (or HAVE to go to therapy), and there’s not enough time or money for both.
Nights when you finally plan a date night with your husband and then someone gets sick (on the carpet again, of course), so you have to cancel.
The truth is we never lose ourselves.
We have seasons when life is balanced and all feels right. Then we have seasons when there’s more sand than sandwich and life is so unbalanced, we wonder who we have become. It's those tough seasons where real growth occurs, where we see what matters and what doesn’t. Where we learn how much we can have on our plate without spilling everything. Where we realize that not right now doesn’t have to mean not ever.
It's in these seasons that we begin to become true.
Life with young children is messy, unbalanced, and its chaos.
But it doesn’t last.
Slowly your kids need less of you.
Your pieces come back to you.
Some of your pieces grow back on their own.
Reignited fuel for you to chase something that has always made your heart sing.
Some of the pieces are returned to you.
The time you have given your children.
The shoulder you have given a friend to cry on.
The support you have given your husband through a career change.
The recipient loved that selfless piece of you so much that the returned piece is even more beautiful than the original.
Some of your pieces are never returned.
Some of your pieces will no longer serve you.
You don’t need them anymore.
You’ve outgrown them.
Someone else will need them more than you.
Sometimes we think we need pieces that no longer serve us, and sometimes it's hard to accept that we no longer need them.
I have held on to pieces that were no longer serving me for much too long for fear of losing myself if I let them go.
Let them go.
Let things change.
Make space for the growth of more substantial pieces.
Make space for the growth of more beautiful pieces.
Change does not mean losing yourself; it means your growing into the person you were designed to become.