I've been a parent for going on five years now and if there's one question I have asked myself time and again, it is: "When is this going to get easier?"
Whether I was in the throes of sleep deprivation with a newborn, struggling through toddler tantrums or cleaning ALL THE THINGS during the season of potty training,I asked the question time after time:"When is this going to get easier?"
During difficult parenting moments, I took solace in the fact that this must get better over time. Surely my kids would finally get with the program and become the children of my dreams while I would transform into this magical unicorn who had a perpetually tidy house and was endlessly patient and did all the fun mom activities. "One day" I would achieve parenting enlightenment.... obviously.
OK. I may have been a bit overdramatic with my delusion of grandeur, but truthfully a part of me really did believe it to some degree. I found myself just pushing through—merely surviving from one day to the next and clinging to the hope that it was going to be not as hard one day. Without realizing it, I had come to view parenthood as a series of stages to just get through and then eventually I would get to that elusive "easier" stage and I would find my groove.
I've come to realize that chasing that "easier" stage is much like chasing the brass ring on a carousel—always just out of reach.
As parents we have a tendency to look ahead to the future and think "Once we get out of the newborn stage it'll get easier." Or "Oh man, if only we could get out of the terrible twos it will get easier." Or "Once the kids are in school it'll be easier."
I'm starting to realize that it never actually does.
Admittedly I have yet to navigate the territories of sending a child off to school or handling friendship drama or curfews or dating yet, but after talking with many parents who are much further along in this journey than myself, I've come to realize that chasing that "easier" stage is much like chasing the brass ring on a carousel—always just out of reach.
Parenting is hard.
All of it.
Babies and toddlers and big kids and tweens and teens and even grown up children... they all come with their challenges. Just when we think we've gotten out of one difficult stage, we are on to the next that is difficult in its own unique way.
The good news is that even though it may not get easier, we get better as parents. We start getting more comfortable in our own skin in this role as a Mom or Dad. We gather tips and tricks along the way. We glean knowledge from other parents who are in it too as we assemble our tribe. We become more confident and we start trusting our instincts more and more.
There will still be days when we feel like we are drowning. Our kids will still be challenging and they will make mistakes. We will still make mistakes—now and forevermore. But there is beauty in the struggle, knowing that it is all part of the journey and part of the story of our family.