I went to visit my family recently and that requires approximately seven hours of driving each direction so I had more than average amount of time to spend thinking since the kids were strapped down. Apparently it takes my brain some time to warm up because I only had enough thoughts to fill up one short blog post.
I was thinking about the short term and long term of parenting. It’s hard stuff. It’s not just about making it to the end of the day (not every day at least) and it’s also not just about turning out “successful” children in the long-run. It’s some swirly-twirly nebulous mix that can’t be nail down into a child-raising recipe. It’s hard stuff.
It gets harder (I think) when you have multiple children and then those children are all close together in age and fighting the same developmental
demons challenges at the same time. Plus, there’s all this modern parenting pseudo-science about kids each having “their own personalities” or some kind of hogwash that you have to add into the mix. And in case that isn’t enough to make you head for the closest dispenser of birth control pills, it has to be taken into account that because of adoption trauma we’re raising a child who has special needs right now that affect our daily life. It’s really hard stuff.
It’s easy for me to laser focus on RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND and be convinced that THIS is how it will be FOR EVER MORE. And frankly, a lot of my “right this very second” moments are pretty stressful and don’t turn out to a very pretty picture when magnified and stretched over another decade and a half. I get sucked into the struggle of today and I doom all our tomorrows.
I don’t even think that I’m a pessimist. My theory is that this happens because as a parent to young children all of my todays look pretty much the same and so it’s hard to gauge progress. I lose my perspective. Then I take my mixed up perspective and throw it up against the wall like a map that will take me straight into the Fire Swamp.
For a long time, going back to my postpartum depression after Peanut was born, I’ve been very touched and strengthened by the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. It’s an amazing song about the truth of the constancy of God. On this trip, the phrase that hit me was, “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”. THAT is exactly the perspective I need to have in my head during my struggles. It’s the perfect balance of right now and what’s to come.
Strength for today when the kids won’t stop fighting, screaming, and crying, and they’re still not potty-trained, when sibling rivalry reaches epic proportions, when they’re waking up four times a night, when there’s more week than money, when there’s additional stress outside of the family, when friends disappear, when date nights are few and far between, when you think about using a shop-vac to simultaneously clean up the toys and the dirt, when no one ever likes dinner, when they wear four outfits a day and you’re the only one doing laundry, when you’re fatter than you’ve been in years and surely that’s just stress and not the gallon of ice cream you just ate, when your husband can’t understand because he goes to work all day, when there aren’t any jobs to be had, when your brother in law won’t stop trying to convert you to your about his crazy political beliefs, when the kids go to a birthday party and bring home kazoos, when you have migraines day after day, when the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with you, when you’re depressed, when you’ve lost someone that you love, when that last little thing is one more thing than you can handle. On those days remind yourself strength for today… and bright hope for tomorrow because He’ll be there too, because you don’t know when the miracle is going to happen, because you can trust Him, because it could be the day you meet the friend who does understand, because the call about the job could come, because there could be a love note from your husband, because you could find the answer you need, because peace comes when you’re not expecting it, because one day the love will come, because the doctor could say the tests are clear, because it’s one more day with the people you love, because maybe
I’ll you’ll win the lottery, because you could get the apology that changes everything, because someday she’ll use the potty then wipe, flush and wash her hands without any intervention from you, and most of all, bright hope for tomorrow because He has overcome this world.
“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” I’m going to start whispering it back to my heart.