“My two-year-old son follows me around everywhere,” the young mom bemoaned. “I get no privacy and no peace. It’s constant physical-contact and him needing attention, all day long.”
The mom spoke her heartfelt words from the midst of an audience that had gathered to listen to a panel of parenting experts.
Moms sitting on the panel were sympathetic and offered some suggestions. I sat there, taking it in, but I also kept waiting for someone to say what I was thinking. I figured one of them would say it eventually.
Waiting…waiting…yes! Someone said it: “You know, your son will outgrow this and it might even be soon. Be patient because this is not forever.”
It might not be immediately comforting, but it’s one of the biggest truths I’ve learned about parenting: “this too shall pass.”
So much of parenting seems to be distilled to the simple truth of being patient because this season is not forever. Keeping our patience intact while waiting it out is the hard part.
I can think of so many struggles of early parenthood that simply are non-existent now.
One book I read—I think it was How to Really Love Your Child—indicated that there are three things parent should never worry about when it comes to childrearing: eating, sleeping, and potty training. These things always resolve themselves. Of course, it might be months (years?) before they do. But they will work themselves out, and it’s often not a good use of energy and brain cells to obsess over them too much.
I am as guilty as anyone of obsessing over a baby’s sleeping, eating, and eventual potty training. Those things seem life-altering at the time but, in hindsight, are not monumental.
I remember how exhausting it was to pick up little toddler messes all the time. Now, my kids mostly pick up their own messes, but I will occasionally breeze around the house picking up my three-year-old’s messes if he is napping. Picking up is now like drinking water and breathing. It’s something I do that I rarely ever think twice about and is almost never exhausting.
Parenting is such a learning curve! The hard things get easier, or disappear, over time.
Of course, there’s always a caveat. Some struggles need to be met head on and dealt with in an intentional manner. Some problems should get the lion’s share of our attention until they are resolved. Some things should never be brushed under the carpet. In our house, children are not allowed to disrespect us or be unkind to siblings. Those are things that we simply do not “wait out” because those are essential character flaws that, if ignored, will grow into towering problems.
When my eight-year-old rolls her eyes at me, I envision a teenager yelling and slamming doors. We will nip that eye-rolling in the bud!
Having said that, it is important to distinguish between the things that are merely bothersome (like when my son took a year longer to potty-train than I would have liked) and things that could turn into larger, unacceptable issues if they are not addressed.
In homeschooling, there have been problems that seemed overwhelming at the time, and I remember working so hard to address them. For three years, I felt one daughter was taking way too long to finish math, but not due to a lack of understanding. She was simply very distracted when doing math because she didn’t enjoy it. Our whole day was being sabotaged because of it. It seemed like a deep pit that I would never be able to climb out of. We got some outside help, I bought some nice headphones for her so she could listen to classical music during math, and I also worked very hard to drill flashcards to help increase her speed.
What seemed so overwhelming for three years is pretty much a non-existent problem today. We didn’t ignore it, and it was hard work at the time, but the severe struggle is over. Although math is not her favorite subject these days, she gets through it without much problem and does decently well, with minimal help from me.
Who would have thought?
What are the struggles we face today? We need to be patient. This too shall pass.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; second image by Amy Koons.