When I was caring for an infant I would say to myself in an ominous tone, like God had spoken it, "This too shall pass."
It was a reminder that I wouldn't always have a shirt covered in spit up, and my sleep schedule wouldn't always revolve around this tiny crying, colic-y human, but also that this sweet smelling baby wouldn't always love it when I kissed their toes.
It was a reminder that life has a way of going forward.
When my children were toddlers I clung to this Morgan-Freeman-sounding voice and held on for dear life in hopes that this was just a phase and "this too shall pass" as my 2 and 3-1/2-year-old tore around my house getting into everything and making me crazy.
I then started realizing however that there were a good deal of adults that acted like toddlers, having absolute fits when life didn't go their way. And that's when my handsome husband and I decided that we should try to start helping our youngsters become people we could actually like.
This meant that I would say "please" and "thank you" even after everything our kids asked for, even after I had said it 300 times before, because we wanted to raise polite people.
It meant that we leaned into doing some tough work when they were toddlers, with the exception of letting some things go, because this too shall pass - and I was pretty sure my kids would not still eat dog food every time they went to grandma’s house. Some things they were sure to grow out of.
By the time they were five and six they had stopped eating the dog’s food and we spent much of our time learning to read and spell, learning math and writing, how to kick a soccer ball or dribble a basketball.
We also had a strong-willed child who tried us every day. Listening well, not screaming like mommy was murdering her because she was sent to her room for misbehaving, not freaking out about a bug she thought she saw in the tub and therefore, refusing to bathe for days were all things we worked on.
Needless to say there were some tough days. As they get a bit older, boys and girls get weird, they get dramatic, and they get sassy (or in our case, sassier). By this time, you've been in the parenting trenches for a while and you start to worry that it will always be like this, that who your children are is becoming pretty set. You can begin to get a bit buried in the parenting job and you stop seeing the light.
Right around when I felt buried, I got to have a conversation with a pastor's wife who had successfully mothered eight children who all turned into wonderful adults. In telling her my mothering woes, she told me to remember that life happened in seasons.
This crazy-in-over-my-head, I'm-not-sure-I-can-do-it, I'm-pretty-sure-I-live-in-my-car time would pass.
One season lent to the next and it mattered that I took each day whatever season I found myself in and made the most of it, to ensure that the next one would be pleasant.
It was important to realize that at during any season, a phase could become a habit, that could then become a character trait.
So lean into what you feel is important, ask questions of those who had gone before you, be intentional, and enjoy, because before you know it, this too will pass.
We took parenting seriously. We started some character training, and we took the time to have the tough conversations.
We also learned to enjoy each phase and stage. We enjoy that our kids make their own cereal in the morning and now at ages 15 and 16, they make the coffee too! Our kids manage homework, sports, extra-curricular activities, and community service, mostly on their own.
They have healthy relationships and are pretty great. There have been a lot of purposeful conversations, and intentional punishments, as well as some healthy letting go moments.
I can honestly say there are moments where I see the fruit of our hard work, and there are moments when all I can do is shake my head and wonder where I went wrong.
But with just a few years left till they are officially declared adults, I know how quickly this season is rushing into the next - and that this too shall pass.