I had a bad week.

Nothing horrible happened.  Nothing truly worth complaining about.  It was just one of those weeks.

One of those weeks when I wanted to hide in the bathroom and ignore my kids.  When my words and actions were harsher than intended.  One of those weeks when I questioned why I became a mother.  Even though I know that’s a rhetorical and meaningless question, the negativity of it drained me just as much as MM’s incessant whining and TL’s repetitive shrieks of incoherent demands.

I keep telling myself – This is just a stage.  This is just a stage.

If I say it over and over, will it make this stage pass by faster?

The stage of…
bedtime warfare.
poopy diapers.
pre-dawn wake-up calls.
food on the floor.
constant neediness.
climbing, and falling.
boneless fits of pointless drama.

I become so preoccupied with lamenting this stage and longing for that next stage.  I lose sight of my children.  I become disconnected.  I go through the motions, because it’s just a stage. I’m just passing through.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Parents often say to each other something along the lines of “It gets better.”  This consolation has always bothered me a little.  Maybe it does.  But maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe it’s just different, each stage bringing its own new set of challenges.  Because parenting doesn’t end, you know. Because parenting isn’t a stage.  Once a mother or father, the heart is never quite the same again.  Therein is the rub, as well as the joy.

This is not how I want to live, discontent with the present and fixated on some future change in circumstance.  All I have of my husband and my children is this snapshot in time, however ugly and flawed that picture may sometimes seem.  But it’s what I have, and it is precious to me.

When I stop dissecting my life and family into stages, I actually begin to live out my day.  The focus shifts back to the present, and my heart remembers why I’m here in the first place.

I want to relish the crescendo of giggles as they wrestle on the floor,
even though I desperately want a little quiet for a change.
I want to recognize their heroic efforts to be helpful,
even though I wish they’d just leave me alone so I can do what I need to do.
I want to enjoy the way my kids fit perfectly in my lap,
even though I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime.

I want to see my children for who they are today.

It is a stage after all, but that means this stage will indeed be gone.


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