I was talking with a friend recently about this season of parenting small kids. She said that her husband refers to it as “The Dark Ages.”
And yes, he loves his life and his wife and his babies, but I know what he means. These are some dark times.
The Dark Ages lacked intellectual enlightenment (I feel like my brain doesn’t work), there wasn’t much written or remembered about that period (I hardly remember last week) and even spiritual life seemed to be getting lost (Jesus, you are much more central than I realize.) Obviously the comparison is silly on plenty of levels, even historians try not to use that term anymore because of its negative connotations, but let’s be real- this raising young kids thing can feel pretty dark.
There are plenty of bright spots, but they are hard to find in the midst of wanting to sleep so bad it hurts. Somewhere between “don’t talk to me like that again” and repeating for the thousandth time what I need you to do, there are cherished moments. But we have to look hard, be grateful for them, even write them down. Because if your life is anything like mine, the difficult moments are coming at a higher frequency.
Which is one of the reasons we cling to photos. This generation is often called out for pretending- creating the life they want on Instagram and then feeling defeated when they see snapshots of someone else’s life that looks even shinier. Sure, we are guilty of that I suppose. But I can tell you that as a mom of small ones, one of my motives is to capture (literally) the high points. The moments that make the hard ones easier to bear. That being said, my captions should probably include what was happening right before and after I took the shot because most of the cute pictures of my kids were pre-empted or followed with absolute frustration.
Raising kids brings so much to the surface- our picture of God, our wounds, our strengths and our failures. That mixed with sheer chaos is just too much at times. We are trying to do this life well, make the moments count and reach for balance in every single thing and it’s excruciating.
Studies and statistics are clear that somewhere around 7 years of marriage and/or the birth of your second child the crap starts hitting the fan. By that time, life has gotten unmanageable in some area and things start to fall. For some people this season is really dark. Marriages crumble under the weight. Depression, loneliness or anxiety seem to show up out of nowhere. Financial struggles can suffocate families and spiritual life can be put on the back-burner or even abandoned altogether.
It is possible to thrive even under all the weight, but often we choose to escape or attack instead. None of us are patient and graceful and Christ-like all the time. We often act out of our fear and pain and this season of parenting might just top the charts for times we do that.
Parenting at any stage is no joke. I have realized that I’m not as good at this as I thought I’d be. It has effectively put every weakness I have on display. Yet here I am, pregnant with #3 and delighted to the brim about it. Because parenting is one of my greatest joys while doubling as one of the hardest things on Earth. Funny how life is that way.
I am being sharpened, I am loving deeper than I ever dreamed and I am regularly amazed at how my world lights up as I see my kids enjoy life.
Getting to be a parent is nothing short of a supernatural gift.
But if you’re in these Dark Ages with me, let’s do a few things to let in some light.
- Let’s admit that it’s hard to see in the dark and cut ourselves some slack. Some things are gonna fall apart and we will get to the other side of this. Find a bright spot today and capture it.
- Let’s take a moment to remember that these children are not ours. They belong to God and He has seen fit to entrust them to us. May we protect them, love them, teach them and treasure them as best we can. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
- Let’s not be too proud to get professional help if the lights are going out. Let’s not allow our marriage, our kids, ourselves or our faith be a casualty of this season.