Gorgeous image by Jose Villa
Once upon a time I had four little girls that looked just like this. We spent days outside at the park, in the fields, at the beach, in the yard. Life wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy, but it was fairly predictable and routine and comforting. I knew what it meant to be a mom to little girls and I think I was pretty good at it…healthy meals, fresh air, lots and lots and lots of reading, lullabies and cuddles, puzzles and play-doh, crafts and pets, nap time, nature, and lots of love.
This phase of parenting is different. It is loud and crazy and unpredictable at every moment. A day does not go by that one daughter or another or all are mad at me. A day does not go by that someone doesn’t cry. A day does not go by that I don’t tell myself that I’ve done everything wrong. It is a hard parenting stage and full of regret for so many days that I will never get back and so many things that I wish I had done better. It is full to the top of “if only.”
But something else I’ve learned about this phase of parenting is that there are lots and lots and lots of rewards and reminders that somewhere along the way, I made some good choices and did a few things right. When the way gets rough and I get discouraged, I try and remember the rewards. Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are little and sometimes they come all at once.
This week is full of big rewards that make my heart happy: Halle is dancing in two dance competitions and ranked first academically in her entire 7th grade class. Lainey is performing in Phantom of the Opera several times this week, and received the highest score on her standardized literature test for the entire 9th grade. Riley is taking on the banking industry with her new job and planning to give college another try this fall. And Courtnee and her husband are graduating from BYU this week! Amazing rewards all the way around.
For all you parents out there who are struggling through the early years, hang in there. I promise it will be worth it. It won’t necessarily get easier, but you’ll start to see the results of your efforts. And your children will amaze you every single day with the incredible people they are. And at some point every single day you will realize that you are a part of these amazing people…and then you will smile…and then you will cry.