If you have small children or know someone who does, read this.
No, seriously, READ THIS.
I feel every word of that post. And my oldest is only 2 years and 6 days old. And, as I'll touch on some magical day when I have enough time to write about it, we feel fairly certain we're supposed to have at least 1 or 2 more kids. Suffice it to say, the road ahead of me is loooong.
Just tonight, like ten minutes ago, listening to Roger cry angrily in his bed and too tired to even look at my phone, I was pondering the juxtaposition of how I love Roger so much that I can't put it into words, yet sometimes I just really hate this phase of constant tantrums and hitting and crying, and it feels like it will never get better and Juliet is hurtling toward this age, too. I feel like I wish I would have enjoyed my pre-kids days more, like somehow the enjoyed freedom of no kids is in direct proportion to "getting through" the difficulties of these little years, as though it would have carried over or something.
The worst part is the struggle to be honest about it, fearing that people will think I am not grateful to God, or don't love my kids, or, worst of all, will Jesus juke me with how much they would give anything to have my "problem" (though I don't actually view my kids as a problem to be solved) because they are single / infertile or have grown passed the joys of the little years.
While there really are so many moments that warm my heart, like huge, spontaneous hugs from Roger and smiles from Jules that never end, on a day like today with little sleep, the day after throwing a birthday party, a cranky toddler, a cranky infant, both of whom have green snot geysers shooting forth every 20 minutes, with no nap for the toddler and a husband who has to be at the church for 8 hours on our "sabbath" day and tomorrow the "work" week starts back up...I just ache for a sick day. A day to literally lie in bed for 12 hours, sleeping if I feel like it, or *gasp* reading a book, maybe a real book that I hold in my hands and not my tiny little phone screen for 10 minutes at night before the knives in my eyes force me to close them, knowing that my precious babies will be there tomorrow but today I can rest. Just one day.
I KNOW I am not alone here and perhaps it's time to be one of those brave, honest souls I respect so much, the Liz Paks of the world.
A large part of my silence is that honestly, the first year with just Roger wasn't terribly hard. It wasn't EASY, but it was largely more enjoyable than difficult. Part of me fears honesty because I'm afraid those having a rough time with one kiddo will feel judged by me. Since having Juliet when Roger was only 19 months old, plus him going from generally happy to generally cranky literally overnight about a month ago (he woke up one Saturday and hasn't been the same since; he's still sweet and all of the things I love about him but there's also a persistent evidence of his inherent sin nature that wasn't as palpable before that fateful Saturday), things have just been so. freaking. hard. There are moments of joy in each day but the days are long and exhausting. That's a flop from generally lovely days with hard moments when it was just Rog and me. It reawakens my fear that the mean, angry, impatient mom is my fate and I'll be her sooner a later (lie from the pit of hell. Let us just call it what it is.) and the emotional toil of being so frustrated with two someones whom I love so much is stressful and exhausting on top of the physical toil.
I wish everyone in our position had someone to say, "We booked a hotel room for you. Here's a gift card for dinner. Feel free to rent a movie on our dime. Whatever you need. Check in's as early as noon today and checkout's at noon tomorrow and we'll watch the kids. Now go, and remember how to breathe."
Maybe you can't do that--we aren't in the position to do that for anyone. But you can pray. You can encourage honesty. You can remind them that it's ok if things are hard, and being raw and vulnerable about how hard it is isn't the same as complaining or being ungrateful. And if they do complain or aren't grateful Jesus gives abundant grace to cover that--there's a reason Titus says women will be saved through childbearing, because while birthing and/or raising a baby doesn't punch your ticket to heaven it does force you to choose between your interests and someone else's, and if you know Jesus he challenges you not just to choose your kids with a motive of trying to get perfect children but to choose your kids because you already have a perfect savior. Use scripture in a way that refreshes them and reminds them how welcoming Jesus is to sinners, not in a way that condemns them for failing yet again.
Most of all, if you are here with me, can we be honest together? And if you used to be here or aren't here yet, pray that Jesus will help you have deep empathy or sympathy, as is relevant, to walk with those in these trenches.