Not intentionally placed as a follow-up to yesterday’s blog, but maybe well-placed anyway, I just wanted to share my overwhelming joy with my children.
The early years are not often easy, especially when there are so many kids in the early years at the same time. They can be full of so much training and teaching and discipline that it can seem like all you do is say “No” and “Don’t” all the time, without ever having any time for enjoying the blessings God has given you. You go through the tough newborn stage when the baby is trying to adjust to living outside the womb and you get no sleep and no showers and so on. Then after a brief respite you are suddenly constantly trying to corral a newly mobile toddler who is always getting into everything. Then come the 2’s, then the 3’s, and you’re exhausted! Multiply this by two or three or more kids, and it would be easy to be overwhelmed with the “work” of child-rearing and miss out on the joy of having children. I have had times when, to my own regret and shame, I have let myself lose sight of the joy, but over the past year or so I have really been preaching to myself to see the joy of my children. After all, for someone who wrote what I wrote yesterday and who feels passionately the desire to have a biblical, God-honoring family with children who have been trained to be respectful and obedient, and who believes that kind of family will be one who has lots of fun and joy together, it is contradicting myself to let myself feel overwhelmed and worn out with my kids all the time!
So I’ve been looking for the joy, and when you look for it, it’s amazing how easy it is to find it! Today I spent the morning with my three princesses, going to the Princess Party sponsored by the high school’s FBLA, where they got to dress up and meet the princesses and have their nails done and other girly-girl things. The party was a bit unorganized and chaotic, but my Ariel and Sleeping Beauty and “Cinallella” had a great time! It was so fun to see their pride in their princess hairstyles (I gave them each a braided bun) and watch them walking in their princess dresses and dress shoes, and to see their excitement at the party. I watched Abigail and Catherine play for more than two hours with just a few little princess figures, using their accents and princess manners, without a single selfish word. I watched Elisabeth carry her baby around in its carrier, saying in her lady voice, “I’m Sarah and this is my baby Rylee. Do you like to hold her?” I watched Samuel take his first long series of steps last night, without a wobble, like it was no big thing. I enjoyed the simple pleasures of ice cream at the gas station (we are in Salem, remember) tonight after dinner, watching their mouths and tongues turn bright blue. I watched them share bites with Samuel, then heard the lady at the next table compliment them not only on their behavior tonight, but also from one day last week when she had seen us in McDonald’s. I saw their pleasure in getting their hair rolled up in sponge rollers for church tomorrow. I watched Abigail letting Elisabeth be her mommy for almost an hour, even letting her spank her a few times, and showing nothing but kindness and love to her little sister. I watch them loving school, doing well, and enjoying learning. I heard Abigail say, after seeing a book at the library called “First Grade Stinks,” “Well, if they think first grade stinks, they must not have their mommy as their teacher, because I do and I love first grade!!” And all that is just in the past two days!
There is so much joy to be found in our children. Yes, training them is a lot of work. Yes, we will make mistakes, and our kids will act up in public and embarrass us. Yes, we will feel exhausted much of the time, especially if you have several close together. Yes, your house will always seem to be messy and you won’t have a lot of time to yourself. Yes, you will have more nights of interrupted sleep than of a good night’s rest. But the joy is there in all of that, if you can keep yourself from being too overwhelmed to see it. I absolutely love my children. The thought of having more sometimes makes me think, “Oh, just when I’m finally down to only one in diapers,” or “Just when they’re finally starting to get old enough to not get spankings every day and actually go a day or so between crying fits, why would I want to have another one?” But while the work will start all over again, so would the joy. Enjoy your children. I regret every word I’ve ever said or written or typed that sounded negative about my kiddos. It’s fine to acknowledge the truth of the difficulties of parenting, just not to let that become complaining and whining about my kids. My life would be so empty without them. So I am trying to take the hard days as they come, clean up the messes–whether it’s toothpaste all squeezed out of the tube, spilled drinks, toilet paper unrolled all the way down the hallway, or just the 47th messy diaper of the week–and keep it all in perspective.
My kids bring joy to my life. Thank God for children. I am so glad he let me be Abigail’s mommy, Catherine’s mommy, Elisabeth’s mommy, and Samuel’s mommy.