I’ll never forget the day I realized I wasn’t cut out for parenting babyhood. I had gotten my four children dressed – shoes and all!, I had my youngest in the baby carrier, the older baby was under one arm, I had a bowl of cut fruit in the other, my purse slung over my shoulder, keys in hand, and I was almost on time.
I was queen of the world.
Until the children began screaming and fighting, I lost control of my fruit and dropped the bowl, and developed a strong kink in my neck. It hurt. A lot.
I did what any self-respecting queen of the world would do. I sat down in the driveway and cried, surrounded by sparkling fruit.
Pitiful, right? I don’t think I’d slept in weeks in a stretch longer than 45 minutes. Add four kids, expectations, a to-do list, and it was a bit too much for me.
We’ve been talking about discipling our kids in the baby and toddler years. Before we move on to discipling the ages of 4-7, I just want to acknowledge: parenting little people is tough. It can be down right exhausting. Parenting the littles can be full of unexpected surprises. You know how you planned to do the laundry, mop the floor and take a shower today, but ended up monitoring a fever, cleaning up vomit, and spending the day planted in the rocking chair instead?
It’s all right to spend the day in the rocker when you need to. It’s OK to take a nap when you lay the kids down – because you haven’t slept well in days. It’s OK. These years are flexible years. This too shall pass, my dear friends.
Don’t lose the children, make sure they’re fed, pray in front of them, love them, tell them simple stories from the Bible while you’re rocking away, and call it good. Give yourself permission to cry in the shower once in a while, then smile and sing a praise song with your littles.
The baby and toddler years are wonderful. They’re cuddly, smile-inducing years full of growth and joy. The baby and toddler years are also exhausting, surprising, and overwhelming. Sometimes, I think we need to give ourselves permission to take a deep breath, let our own expectations go, and enjoy the season we’re in. Just don’t stay in the driveway, crying and circled by cut fruit. Your neighbors might call help for you.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)
Are you in the middle of the baby or toddler years? How are you coping? Have your children grown into a new stage? How did you handle fatigue and surprises when your children were small?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in God Still Provides and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.