Every time someone asks me how old my daughter is, it rolls off my tongue. She’s two-and-a-half, I say confidently, no longer feeling forced to count her time out of the womb by the months and do it correctly without any finger-counting or air-drawn mathematics.
While telling her age is less complicated these days, other things are getting a little more difficult. Not to mention, the moments seem to be moving faster. I discover something new on a daily basis. She says a new word. She learns a new behavior. She responds a little differently.
Honestly, it’s amazing and it makes me excited to see it all happening.
However, the moments that aren’t so amazing can make it hard to hold on to the joy and wonder of it all.
I recently read a Facebook post where another first-time mom described how endless efforts to get her baby calm at bedtime left her feeling hopeless and oftentimes like her daughter’s slave. Several women responded to her post with their own stories to let her know she wasn’t the only mother who had ever felt that way. Then those women and others left words of encouragement that seemed to motivate her and give her a new resolve. By the end of that stream of comments, she was cheering on other mothers who admitted feeling hopeless in their own stage of motherhood.
I think most moms—and even dads—do the same thing. And many, without even realizing it.
I call it a dance between the weariness and the wonder of parenting.
One moment we feel like quarterbacks who get toppled as soon as the center snaps the ball our way. And the next moment we’re on the sidelines rooting for the players still in the game, just glad to be on the team.
Looking back, it’s hard for me to believe I’ve been a mother for as long as I have. I was never able to picture life as a parent, but now it’s hard to imagine life any other way. I know it sounds so cliché. But it’s true.
I cry to my husband for time alone, but sit and stop lights and stare at my daughter’s empty car seat when I take a drive by myself.
I relish a child-free weekend, but find myself getting sappy when I think about not hearing her loud, belly laugh or seeing her smile.
I do a happy dance when there’s a break in routine and bedtime comes earlier than usual. Yet, I sit down and end up scrolling through her photos on my smartphone.
At times, this dance between weariness and wonder can make me feel crazy. But now I am thankful that—by the grace of God—I am able to do it. To come back to that place of wonder and contentment in the journey. And to do it again and again and again.
God gives me grace when I’m weary and feel like I have nothing left to give, and it motivates me to keep going until the wonder returns. There’s grace in a moment of calm so I can say a prayer for help or patience or wisdom. There’s grace in the moment of rest I’m able to have when I really need it. There’s even grace when I’m feeling frustrated and my daughter does something to make me smile. And sometimes God’s grace comes by way of people who offer tangible blessings like a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, encouraging words, or childcare for a date night.
I don’t think the journey of parenthood will ever be easy, but I think God’s grace can make us better for the journey.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)