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Free Advice for the Ages

When I had my first baby, my grandmother advised me to sleep when he slept.

As our family grew, I learned quickly to plan my tomorrows to help them run smoothly. Still, I’d have strings of harried days that never seemed to begin or end. Then, an aunt confirmed the normalcy of this feeling, and her own realization that peace came from knowing her brood were fed and loved and still alive.

Good enough was good enough, some days.

I’ve had many days like that, and knowing she did too made me feel …not inadequate.

When they’re little, time moves quickly in the rush of getting it all done. They’re busy, so we are too, trying to keep them fed and loved and alive. The struggle with those basics is exhausting, worthy as it is. That’s the tired of being a mom of littles, but that proverbial cup which empties quickly can also just as quickly refill to the brim.

Seeing those little faces asleep, feeling those little arms around your neck, getting those wet kisses, all well-earned gratification.  In His infinite wisdom, God made ‘em cute and cuddly. Seems it would be too difficult to keep doing it if they weren’t.

A mom of older children once cautioned that I should enjoy the exhaustion of mothering toddlers because one day I would have teenagers and would wish for that time back. Oh, how I laughed at that notion.

How could it be more exhausting?

I was already physically drained from sleep deprivation, running on fumes and still chasing Energizer bunnies, and mentally drained from trying to keep up with their inadequacies in communication coupled with a desperate and deep desire to precisely communicate, overwhelming us all. Teenagers would surely be able to more effectively communicate AND have more coping skill tools in their boxes. Surely.

But then my toddlers turned into teenagers, and in God’s eternal sense of humor WISDOM, this coincided with my youngest being toddlers. My tired was tired, y’all. And I understood what this well-meaning mama was talking about, and how naïve I was about the difficulties of teens.

But here’s the reality: the good far outweighs the hard.

I see the similarity in the two age groups now. The language barrier, ineffective communication, lack of coping skills, escalating physical and mental exhaustion. Yeah, it’s wearing.

Babies, toddlers, preteens, teens, young adults. All of them in the same house. But how good is God to put them all here at the same time, so I can remember the fat little hands around my neck during an older-kid blow up AND see the fruit of all that labor? Pretty. Darn. Good. Dare I say omniscient?

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Erin Bayard

Erin lives in Lafayette, Louisiana. She homeschools 4 of her 5 children and has one in college. She relaxes primarily with good music, Netflix, or a good biography, and may be overly enthusiastic about puns.

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