The Harvest of Parenting

It is Friday, and I am tired.

To the bone exhausted.

We were up at 6am after a very fitful night, and there were no lazy morning cuddles. I went straight into changing my preschooler’s wet sheets, and while I was in the midst of that, the baby threw up on the floor. I should have just thrown my hands up in the air, tossed the kids a cookie, gone back to bed and hoped for the best.

But I soldiered on, because that’s what you do.

When I am as tired as I was this morning, I do not function well. We didn’t have a plan for the day, we just sort of drifted through the morning. I was entirely disengaged, burying my face in the aptly named ‘Facebook’, and half heartedly ‘cleaning’ the house, by sort of picking one thing up from one spot where it doesn’t belong and placing it in some other spot where it also doesn’t belong.

As you may know, children do not thrive in these sorts of situations, where the parent is mostly zombified and trying to ignore them. We survived okay until after the baby’s first nap, and then the preschooler had had enough. The defiance and disobedience started, one thing right after another. Hitting his brother. Stealing his toys. Pulling his hair. And I know that he wanted attention and that he was just bored but I have spent the whole week giving him attention and I just needed to not be a parent for five more minutes.  I knew we need to get out the door and go to the park, but now I was folding laundry and just wanted to finish the last few things. He crawled into the laundry bin, and was knocking over piles of clothes. Another time out. Two time outs.  My bored and frustrated children paid me back for my disengagement with their behaviour. And, on a day like today, I returned the favour.

I was not my most patient self.

I was not my most loving self.

I was tired. I was exhausted. And for the love of all that is good and holy JUST LISTEN TO ME, KID. JUST GO PLAY BY YOURSELF FOR TWO MINUTES SO I CAN FOLD THIS STUFF.

But it wasn’t happening. So I finished what I was doing and took the kids downstairs, ready to get them to the park to blow off some steam, and I realized that it was lunch time. Somehow I lost an hour and of course now I understood why the preschooler was being unbearable- he was hungry. But that means I needed to prepare lunch which involved them waiting even longer. More fights. More tantrums.  I was ready to lose it.

We were finally ready to go to the park. I ran upstairs to grab something and came down to find my son had grabbed a pen and was poking holes in the fabric of a chair, which is something he knows is not allowed. (he knows this because he did the exact same thing the day before).

I picked him up, too roughly, I’m sure, and plopped him in the chair for a time out. I yanked the pen out of his hands. I strapped his brother in the stroller and disappeared to the washroom to keep from screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST STOP FOR ONE SECOND??”.  I know the answer to that. He is 3. That’s all. There is nothing wrong with him. He is just being 3, and his mommy is not giving him all the patient love and attention that he requires today because, let’s face it, that takes a heck of a lot of energy, which is something I am in short supply of.

So instead of screaming, I sat in the bathroom. I turned on my phone and I googled “Bible verse. Patience. Children” secretly hoping there was a verse that says, “It is super hard to be patient with children. You are forgiven for losing your mind.” Instead I found this list of “8 Verses to Inspire Us to be Patient”. And there was what I needed. The last of the listed verses:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galations 6:9

And instantly I started to cry, because ugh. I stopped ‘doing good’ sometime around 8am when the ‘loving patient correction’ became a little bit shrill and screamy correction. So I took a deep breath and went back out there, to my harvest – my little boy who will one day grow up to be an amazing man. I hauled that little one onto my lap and explained to him that mommy is pretty tired and is sorry that she lost her temper. I told him we all get angry sometimes and it is important that we are careful not to hurt other people with our anger. I also talked to him about why it’s important to listen to mommy, because my job is to keep him safe and happy. He nodded and pleaded to go outside.

So we went and played in the dirt together, the three of us getting filthy as we dug and poured and smoothed the sand in the baseball diamond. I watched their little faces, gleeful and delighted, the morning’s frustration gone and long forgotten. They are so quick to forgive my failures, and though I still feel weary, I know that it is because I am giving everything I have to these kids, in order to reap the harvest of happy, healthy children, who grow up to love God and love others, who give selflessly of themselves to their spouses and their own little ones.

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Mommas: this is good work we’re doing. We are pouring into little lives and shaping and molding them. It’s exhausting, but the hard work is not for nothing.

And so now the baby is sleeping and Daddy is watching the preschooler and I am taking a moment to write this, before taking another moment to nap. And breathe. And come back for more, because there is still good work to be done – the harvest is not yet ripe.

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