Over the years I have found it helpful to see life in terms of seasons. We have biological seasons: childhood, single years, marriage for some, parenting years (and within this season parenting toddlers and parenting teens are very different), empty nest, bungee cord season- a season when you thought you were an empty nester and your kids came home again- the golden years, and perhaps single again. We also have seasons of loss-a death, the loss of a dream, the loss of health. We have mixed up seasons-like caring for an elderly parent while raising a toddler. And we have seasons of transition, of change. We tend to think that stability is the norm but in reality transition is the norm and stability is the rare exception. Recognizing this will give us a better perspective. Every season will have both challenges and blessings. It is important to articulate the challenges but then choose to focus on the blessings.
One of the challenges of the baby/toddler years is frustration. You get up in the morning, get the house picked up, the kids fed and by evening it’s all a mess again. Reflecting on your day you don’t feel like you accomplished anything. It’s particularly hard if you are used to a challenging job with a list of things you can check off as “done” at the end of each day. And in the market place you have affirmation, appreciation and a salary. But at home these are in short supply. It’s unlikely that your 4 year old will exclaim,” Mom, you are doing a great job of raising me!” So a challenge for you might be frustration. On the other hand one of the blessings unique to this season is that toddlers say the funniest things. When our daughter Libby was 4 she saw the ocean for the first time. Her eyes grew wide with astonishment as she gasped, “Mommy, it’s too full. You need to let some of it out!” Saying funny things is a blessing unique to this season of young children. Grab a piece of paper write down what they say, put their initials and date on it and toss it in a folder to save. Teenagers don’t say very funny things. A challenge of the teen years is setting limits and letting go. When should we stand firm? However a blessing, particularly of the latter years, is that you begin to see the pay-off of some early years of parenting. Your teen might actually ask what she could do to help with dinner. The empty nest will bring different challenges. What is my primary purpose now? How do we redefine our marriage and relate to our adult kids?
No season lasts forever and often there are seasons within a season.
No matter what season of life we are in, it is wise to be honest about the challenges, but then chose to identify and focus on the blessings.