17 Mar 2014

Why all those years of lost sleep spent parenting are worth it

I like sleep.

I like spending hours reading books, alone, in perfect quiet, in a pool of sunlight on a late winter afternoon.

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I like a clean and tidy house. I like to eat food while it is still hot. I like clean clothes. I like to brush and style my hair in more than 2 minute increments. I like to concoct bowls of ice-cream delights liberally topped with chocolate sauce, strawberries, and powdered sugar that I do not like to share.

I like to use the restroom alone.

More significantly, however, I like to help, listen, visit, sit up with, comfort, grocery shop, cater to, clean, share and generally be there for someone else when it is convenient to me.

I didn’t realize these things about myself until I had kids.

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The most gentle and simultaneously ruthless way to discover who you truly are is to have children.

A cataclysmic shift of focus away from yourself and onto someone else takes place. It hurts at first.

It hurts at 7 am when the big kids wake up after you just laid down from being up with the baby most of the night. It hurts when a gift you treasure gets broken because your boys are leaping from counter tops and accidentally kick it crashing and smashing to the ground.

It hurts when you can’t remember when last you had an uninterrupted conversation with a grown up, an outfit that someone didn’t wipe sticky hands across, or a night’s sleep that didn’t end with someone else’s bad dreams.

I feel all stretched out, softened and squidgy around the edges of my temperament.

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I am learning to live in peace amidst the chaos of a house torn a-muck by raucous boys.

Laundry is rarely put away, but rather retrieved straight from the dryer. My favorite books bear the marks (often in purple or bright green sharpie) of my boys. Sunlight is not for catnapping in, but rather for tearing through the backyard en route to slaying dragons and rounding up the herd.

Sleep is a dance between a baby’s needs and a mother’s dreams. Any food, treat, ice cream or drink is considered fair game by kids and nothing caters to my own convenience.

Everything is an educational experience.

Yes, even using the restroom.

But I have never been closer to a glimpse into the Father’s love for me than when I am lying in the pre-dawn dark between a six year old who now only admits in his sleep how much he still likes to snuggle and a baby girl who breathes so close to me you’d think we were the same person.

So I ache and stretch and succumb to the growing pains for them.

“By God’s marvelous design, few life experiences humble us quite as effectively as parenting. …This tiny tyrant is providentially placed in our house with one grand program: to mold his or her parents into the image of our Lord. The way up spiritually, is by looking down physically.”
~Devotions for Sacred Parenting

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And looking back, I catch a glimpse of how far I’ve come.

And how far I still have to go.

And how worth it each wonderful, stumbling, sticky step is going to be.

Comments

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  1. 1

    This is such a lovely article. I saw the pic on FB and it got me thinking. I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. I look towards my children as my teachers. Every day they teach me new lessons about myself and about the way I see and interact with the world. Although they are not always fun or easy things to learn like patience or gratitude, I am so thankful because I feel like my life is more fulfilled and complete since becoming a parent. Thank you for sharing (including the lovely pictures). Cheers.

  2. 2

    I can so totally relate to this post. Who I am (was) and what I like(d) are not compatible with mothering. And I do like to use the restroom in blissful solitude. Mothering is making me grow up, and it does hurt. Although my relationship with God is different than yours, the spiritual nature of this mothering journey is brought home to me many times each day. How big can I get? Can I expand beyond my own desires and limits to nurture innocent and vulnerable new life (even when “innocent and vulnerable new life” means a rampaging horde of bouncing, demanding emotional demands)? What boundaries are reasonable and healthy where children are concerned? Where do I turn when I am absolutely out of interest, energy, resources and ideas? Taking that one moment, that one deep breath to let a power greater than myself take care of us, makes all the difference. I attempt to embrace the paradox that this mothering work, in all its relentless tedium, is the most important thing I’ll ever do.

  3. 3

    Gorgeous writing, Lisa-Jo. Once again, you capture the give and take that is a mama’s heart.

    xoxo

  4. 4

    OK. I’m gonna push back here a little.

    Kidding! ;)

    Love you, Lisa-Jo Baker, and all the ways you give us all permission to breathe and say, “All this craziness? Completely normal. And today, I will revel in that thought.”

  5. 6

    You really got me with these words… “when it’s convenient for me.” Nothing like having 4 kids in less than 5 years to make me see how ridiculously selfish I am… and I’m still learning it six years later!!!

  6. 7

    I immensely enjoyed this. True. True. True.

    Thank you for writing it so beautifully…
    Georgia

  7. 8

    I am being personally challenged and convicted right now on the subject of inconvenience. God is telling me that I need to open myself up to inconvenience for the sake of others (kids and strangers alike), not just helping them when it fits into my schedule.

    I try to remind myself that for Jesus to leave Heaven and come to this earth was seriously inconvenient! He did that for me, so I can certainly inconvenience myself for him and his children.

  8. 9

    Oh my soul, Lisa-Jo… I feel like we are living the same life in two separate bodies. From only getting good snuggles from my little boy in his bed at night now…waking up inches from my three-year-old baby girls face and hair entangled in my mouth… to not a moments privacy even trying to do “private” things. Ha. You are so right, I’ve learned more about myself since being a mother and feel like I have probably only scratched the surface. The good, the bad and the ugly. Covered in grace, though. And that’s never been such a blessed truth. xoxo

  9. 10
    Gretchen says:

    I save this email until this morning to read…ok, that’s a lie – I was too darned flat out to stop and read it until now, and even now there are a million things that need doing first! But oh well, here I am anyway ;-)
    I just want to say thank you for this (and your many other pieces of writing). Thanks for the reminder, confirmation, similarity…everything! I especially needed this one today…the “devotion” at the end particularly got me, as a similar thought has been going round my head lately but not in nearly such a succinct way! Thanks :-)

  10. 11

    This is such a great blog post. I was hit in the face almost when you stated that we really do find out who we are as a person when you become a parent. Parenting is not for the weak that’s for sure. I personally feel like I’m growing up right along with my kids with each passing day.

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