Recently I was out at a restaurant with the kids and a friend of mine asked me, "So is it as easy as you make it look?" I tried hard not to laugh out loud TOO loudly, but I did have to chuckle.
Whether we're out in a public place or putting pictures on Facebook, it's easy to make things look "easy." But if we're honest, is being a parent ever truly "easy?" Sure, we love our children. In fact, I often tell my children that I love them more than they could ever imagine.
But parenting them--training them, nurturing them, disciplining them, and imparting God's truth into their hearts--isn't always easy. At least it's not for me...and I'm realizing this now more than ever.
Two months ago today was our return home from China with Jenna. We were welcomed by family and friends who were so excited to meet the newest member of the Preston Party of Six. It was indeed a joyous occasion. But once we left the Atlanta airport that Friday night, real life began. However, like a new marriage or a new job, we had a little bit of a "honeymoon" period. The older three kids were off school for the week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so we got to be home together with no obligations. Nathan and Andrew were smitten with their new baby sister. Shelby got to catch up on much needed sleep. Jenna got to experience what it was like to be part of a loving family for the first time and she seemed to embrace her new family so well. She smiled, laughed, played, ate great, slept great, and enjoyed so many "firsts" that come with being part of a family.
And in all honesty, this trend has continued over the past two months. Jenna's transition into our family has truly been miraculous. We are so thankful to have her in our family, but I am also realizing that the "honeymoon" period is over...and it's not easy.
A few things in particular come to mind:
Jenna is understanding English so well but I can tell she's getting more and more frustrated with each passing day that she can't express what she is wanting to tell me. It breaks my heart to see her mind racing but unable to say what she wants to say. And it is not easy for me because I can't read her mind and don't always know what she needs or wants.
Speaking of wants, Jenna knows what she wants and doesn't like it when she doesn't get it. I'm thankful she's very much a typical almost-three-year-old (she turns three on February 1st!), but not being able to speak English makes this even harder. Recently she wanted to bring a hula hoop inside and I told her we had to leave it on the back porch because it was dirty. She was NOT a happy camper when she saw me leave it there and carry her inside. Kicking, screaming, and crying ensued. I tried to hold her and firmly told her "No kicking mommy!" This continued for several minutes until she finally calmed down and let me hug her. This was not easy.
And the hardest thing right now is achieving balance with four children who all have different needs because they are at different ages and have different levels of dependence. Jenna requires A LOT of my time, and that was certainly to be expected. Not only is she the youngest of our four children but she has also been without the nurturing love of a family for over 2 1/2 years of her life. Many times when I put her down after holding her, she immediately lifts her little arms up in the air to be picked up again. And as much as I LOVE holding and cuddling Jenna, I also have three other children and a husband who all need and deserve my time and attention. So as much as possible, I find chunks of time to spend one-on-one with them. Whether it's doing a LEGO set with Andrew, coloring with Shelby, or throwing the football with Nathan, I'm trying to make each minute with them count. But even this isn't easy.
Why? Because I'm selfish (I'm realizing this more lately) and want some time to myself. It is hard to be honest and admit this, but these are things people don't talk about when they have children, whether biologically or through adoption. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything and I'm not complaining. I thank my Heavenly Father for ALL the blessings He has given me, none of which I deserve. But when the rubber meets the road, I am still a selfish human being and it is not easy to give to others 24/7.
So for this reason I am especially thankful for Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
and II Corinthians 12:9,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Yes, the "honeymoon" is over but I am more thankful now than I was two months ago to have Jenna home.
And to answer my friend's question about this being easy, the answer is a resounding "NO!" But life wasn't meant to be easy...
it was meant to be lived the way God intended.
Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my selfishness and my many weaknesses. I realize now more than ever how much I need You to be the wife and mother You have called me to be. Help me to let go of the things that don't matter so I can focus on what really counts. AMEN.