The long view

Sometimes parenting is hard work.  While the big, dramatic happenings with our children are difficult, I find it is the every-day-I-don't-feel-as-though-I'm-making-any-progress stuff that is somehow harder.  You know, where you have a child that you are working on certain character issues and you feel as though you say the same thing over and over.  There is a phrase in the attachment world:  "Nibbled to death by ducks."  This pretty much sums up how I feel some days.  It's the little things that build-up over time and become almost too much, and you can't point to any one thing that is wrong.  It's the cumulative effect.

And it's not just being tired of certain children's behavior, it's the action required of me as a result that is tiring.  If there is any hope of the behavior improving, it is if it is dealt with every single time it happens.  Every single time a child whines it must be dealt with.  Every single time a rude response is made it must be dealt with.  Every single time a child is disobedient it must be dealt with.  Every single time.  It makes me wish that just once I would get sent to bed because I am obviously too tired.

The other aspect of day-to-day parenting that I find hard is having to let my children suffer the natural consequences of theirs or another's actions.  There have been several times this past week where one child has inadvertently done something to disappoint another child.  There was no malicious intent, just thoughtlessness.  But the end result was the same, often with one or more children in tears.  I feel helpless in these situations.  I can't make it all better for either of them, nor should I.  I can commiserate or insist upon apologies, but I can't fix it and I don't like it.  It does make me wonder if God feels the same way when we mess up... hurting for us, but knowing in the long run that it's better if He doesn't fix it.  (Of course, in the greater sense He has fixed it all.  The wonder of grace.)

But all is not gloom and doom around here. It is helpful to me when I look at the long view. I think this is one of the positive aspects of having a large family. I have so many people at so many different stages, there is always a bit of hope somewhere when I look at a child and remember that some things we were working on have ceased to be issues. In fact they have so much ceased to be issues that I don't think about them anymore and consequently have forgotten there was a problem. With time, it reminds me, I will see similar fruit in other children.

I can even see fruit in the littlest.  When we say grace at meals, we always hold hands.  G. and L. have now learned that we do this and have begun to join in as well.  How sweet is this?

(L. on left and G. on right)

Of course, the motivation may just be that they know they will be given their plates of food after we hold hands and say grace, but it's terribly cute none the less.
For those of you who are terribly interested in the continuing apple production around here, B., A., and I processed another bushel of apples:  4 freezer bags with apples for apple crisp; 2 freezer bags with apple strudel filling; 14 meals of steamed apples for G. and L.; and one apple crisp for dinner last night. 

1 bushel to go...  does anyone have a dehydrator I could borrow?


Aimee said…
Great post...I can really relate. I have a magnet on my fridge that says "raising kids is like being pecked to death by a chicken." :)

My mom bought it for me after a phone conversation in which my son NEVER stopped interrupting me! Even though there is that constant pecking...I wouldn't trade them for the world though!
Anonymous said…
Oh how I needed this today! Thank you!
Anonymous said…
This is exactly how I feel. People don't discuss this aspect much. It is a great post - thanks. I will come back to this post in the future to read again when I need some sympathizing

A bad time for me is if one time I didn't respond - it makes it so much harder the next times - a straight to tears & whining to get her way - ugh.

I LOVE Aimee's comments above - I want to get one of those magnets.


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