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You’ve probably heard the old adage that “the days are long, but the years are short” when you’re raising kids. But sometimes, the true rewards of parenting can be easily forgotten in those long days.
And really- we don’t become parents just for the rewards.
To me, pursuing a family is about so much more, like leaving a legacy of faith and love. And better understanding just a glimpse of God’s love for His children – via the parenting viewfinder.
I wanted to be a mom simply because it was a desire God placed in my heart. This is a common desire for many women, naturally, although some of us come to motherhood in other ways (by surprise, or even reluctantly!).
But it’s not always hugs and kisses and portrait-perfect moments.
There are tantrums and tears and sticky floors. There are sleepless nights and worries galore and dirty dishes that never end.
There are the strong-willed toddler years, the roller-coaster tween years, the moody teen years. And sometimes you’re facing all the above, all at once.
Maybe, like me, you need to be reminded that there ARE rewards in this parenting gig, and they really do tip the scales in the right direction, every time.
Here are just a few that come to mind:
You get to witness the miracle of life, that keeps on going
No matter how many kids you have, witnessing new life never gets old. From conception to birth, a new life makes a huge impact on everyone around them.
I think God intended it to be that way, too. Life is meant to make an impression, to make us stand slack-jawed in wonder of the Creator who sets all things in motion.
But it’s not just those fresh newborn days; it’s watching our kids grow and change and develop personalities of their own over time. Having a front seat to these transforming years is a distinct honor we hold as parents.
Sometimes we take for granted the passing of time or even wish it away, hoping for easier days ahead. But we should be careful that in assessing our hardship we don’t neglect the beauty of these rapid developments that are happening under our noses.
I can only imagine what it will be like to watch them from afar when they’re adults. They’ll still be growing and changing, but from a distance. And someday, Lord willing, they’ll get to do the same with their own children.
The miracle of life doesn’t end at birth; I believe it only intensifies over time. The imprint it leaves on our hearts is its proof.
You have a constant source of entertainment
Hollywood can’t hold a candle to a toddler with an audience in the living room.
I never realized how hilarious kids could be, unfettered by the cares of the world and what other people think of them.
Even when they’re not being intentional about it, the wit, thoughtfulness, silliness and honesty of my kids is the best kind of entertainment I can think of.
Sometimes there’s TOO much entertainment, I’ll admit, and we have to endure the drama to get to the good stuff.
You never know what what you’re going to wake up to, walk into or find in the fridge. (Mud pies or barbie dolls, anyone?)
For kids, the world is their stage. And as mom and dad, you get to enjoy the antics from the best seats in the house.
You have a built-in fan club
Before becoming a parent, I felt like I was halfway prepared for how much I would love my kids. But I was not prepared for how much they would need me and love me and want to absolutely suffocate me every chance they got. 😉
Of course, these things change over time. Kids become less needy and less attached to your hip. They become teens eventually and ask you to drop them off around the corner from school. (Thanks, kid. Love you too.)
So I guess what I’m saying is, we should probably enjoy our little fan clubs while we have them. We should not only appreciate their adoration, but understand the responsibility we have to live up to it.
So when you feel like you’re never going to have your bed to yourself or any personal space ever again – just remember this too, shall pass.
Someday, your adoration will be shared with pop stars and Youtube personalities and the cute boy down the street.
Right now, though – you’re pretty stinking amazing in their eyes.
You discover your hidden talents
Who knew all the hidden talents that would surface when we needed them the most?
As a mom or dad, you learn to have the emotional insight of Mr. Rogers (all those Big Feelings).
You develop the motivational gusto of Richard Simmons (while you run them to the potty and cheer them on).
And every mom I know has earned the Incredible Hulk badge at least once (carrying all those grocery bags + carseats + toddlers who decide they can’t walk another step at the mall).
Not to mention, we also survive a a brutal lack of sleep when they’re little, we rarely have time to eat and we know the exact location of almost every item our family loses. (Because, you know, we store that mental picture in the place where we should INSTEAD remember our child’s middle name at the pediatrician’s office.)
Basically, parenting necessitates a dizzying array of skills that should make us well qualified for nearly any vocation (nurse, teacher, lawyer, chef, plumber, etc.)
At the very least, we should be proud that in any area we lack, our kids still pretty much believe we can do anything.
You become less selfish
I’m not saying this is true of EVERY parent out there. But wow, if parenting doesn’t de-prioritize the needs of Self, I don’t know what else does.
I think this is another “gotcha” moment that God knew we would need in order to be more like Him. Want to sleep in? Sorry, your toddler needs breakfast more.
Want to watch anything other than Paw Patrol? Maybe in another 6 years or so.
The truth is, your needs and wants just aren’t as high-priority when your life includes little ones.
And the funny thing is, we get more joy from letting go of our creature comforts than when we try to hold onto them. I guess God designed it that way, too.
You find community you never needed before
You don’t have to have a whole clan of friends, you really just need a few good ones.
Sometimes friendships are borne or made deeper out of necessity. For an introverted mom like myself, it’s been hard to get out of my comfort zone and reach out.
We need to share each other’s burdens and lift each other up when motherhood is lonely and heavy and hard.
I’m told by wiser, more seasoned moms that you need each other now, and you’ll need them later – when motherhood takes on a different, more distant role.
If you haven’t found your people yet – keep looking! (Yes, even if you’re an introvert.)
You get to pass it on
Sometimes it’s a scary thought, but ultimately our kids will continue what we started with them.
It may seem like slow plodding, but when you are intentional in this journey, you get to see the outcome of the continuous prayer, the hard work and the love you invested.
Because the people you raise aren’t just carrying on your values, your dimples and your work ethic. They will, in their own way, leave a mark on history that only they can make.
And that will be, in part, because of you.
We can’t know what our kids’ futures will look like, exactly. But today, we can love them harder, guide them with grace and hope for God’s very best plans to unfold in their lives.
And when we make this commitment, we know we’re fulfilling part of OUR purpose, which makes the long days of parenting that much sweeter.