I’m going to be honest: as a mama of two young children, one of my least favorite things in the world is when a mama of older children says something along the lines of, “Just wait, it gets worse.” Wait, wait. How is that supposed to motivate me? Am I supposed to invent a freeze ray for time or something? Cling tenaciously to these days? Give up and just brace for the impact of the coming worse days?
Right now I am in a season of an old dog losing bowel control who is pooping on the floor my son is learning to crawl on. I am parenting a threenager who has learned the fantabulous phrase “FINE” and the elegant art of running into her room and flinging herself on her house bed that I lovingly wrapped in twinkle lights. I wipe everyone’s bottom in the house other than my husband’s. I get to do these things. I am privileged to be able to stay home with my children while they are small. But my world also can seem pretty small and a little too poop-filled on these days of parenting littles. And you’re telling me it gets worse?
But as I was washing the high chair tray for the 522nd time this morning, I realized what these moms may be trying to tell me: These are the training wheels. Right now I can practice patience with these challenges, because in the days to come, the challenges will continue. Caring for an aging dog can give me practice as I prepare to care for aging parents in the years to come. Caring for a son who WON’T sleep past 5:30 AM no matter WHAT online/book/parent advice I follow gives me practice in patience for the years to come when I will have to send that son off to school, into life, with little to no control over what he does. Loving a daughter who shouts at me and runs away gives me practice for the years when I won’t be able to physically pick her up to get her to where I need her to be. When she learns words that will wound much more than a “FINE” does now. I can practice getting good at apologizing to my dog, son, daughter, husband now when there has been too much feces and not enough sleep in my day.
I can also learn to practice patience with myself. There will always, always be something new for me to learn. I don’t think the training wheels ever really come off, at least in this life. Things come in seasons, just like the year. Some things will get easier, and some will get harder. For today, I will remember that I’m not really the one pedaling the tricycle. I’ll remember the steady hand of my Father, pushing me along as I practice, fall down, and get back on again.