It’s no big secret that I have struggled to adjust to having three children. I adore my little people, but each day has challenges and perplexities that I could not have imagined pre-kids. I’ve actually never been so thankful for the years of basketball I played because it’s made me appreciate zone defense! When it comes to the likes of making sure everyone’s needs are met and bellies are fed, it is one v. three in this house.
I’m thankful for wise women who have spoke truth to me about the daily trials of parenting little ones. Unfortunately, I think in many Christian circles it is looked down upon to share with others about the emotional and physical work that parenting requires. I disagree with this, because although we shouldn’t have a complaining spirit, it’s worthwhile to be honest with our brothers and sisters and ask for their prayer and support as we push through long days (but short years).
One such woman who has grown children (and only knows me through her grown daughter) told me last summer after she watched me struggle to get the kiddos in and out of the van:
“You know, parenting these ages is like flying on an airplane. When they do the safety procedures, they always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, otherwise you won’t be able to take care of others. Make sure you take care of your needs, mama.”
((Lightbulb moment)). At the time I was struggling to muster up the bravery to hire a sitter and just leave my house once or twice a month to do errands and have some time to myself. It was her analogy to being on a plane that made me realize that it’s ok to step back and “give myself a breather” so I can be ready to help my children when I need it.
Because our culture has created an idol out of children (and I’m first to confess this is a daily struggle for me- ahem, personal Facebook and Instagram feed), we think that moms can’t take a moment for themselves. Or we judge the mom who is looking on her iPhone at the park, when it may well be the first time she has sat down all day! It’s easy for us to make assumptions as to what a mom should or should not be doing, but unless you spend 12+ hours a day in the house with the family, it may be ill-suited to make such an accusation.
Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to another woman that had three now-grown children and she was telling me about the years when she was in my shoes and her husband worked long hours and she went on to say that someone once told her that,
“Mothering little ones is like being an air traffic controller and you have three planes all coming in to land at one time. It’s your job to keep everyone safe and happily arriving at their destination. It can be stressful!”
BINGO! She literally summed up my life! I’m not denying that my children are a beautiful blessing from God but many days it literally feels like I’m in the control tower and I’m fighting to keep everyone calm and happy and from killing each other. One slip of the baby gate or bike helmet or sippy cup may send us all crashing into the runway and smoldering at the gate (ok, just a little dramatic). We’re watching the board for delays and any delay of Daddy past 5:30 pm will send us all careening into a midday meltdown – Mommy included.
So as much as I hate flying, I will stand with these two analogies and the sweet women with whom I spoke. And if nothing else, flying on a plane (or being an air traffic controller) means that you can only control how you behave. I can control my actions as a mother, but I can’t control the behavior of my children (ok, with proper modeling I can in some respects but they are still young and are greatly affected by hungry, tiredness, and the like). I can do all I can to keep everyone safe and healthy. but God is sovereign and probably the HARDEST part of parenting is saying, “Your will be done.”
Have you heard these analogies before? Can you relate to them? What’s your favorite parenting analogy?