Dear Stressed-out Dad,
Last week I wanted to let you know that your sleepless nights would one day end. That one day you’d look back to Christmas 2013 and only remember the good times. That you wouldn’t remember the morning you sat in a hotel lobby in your jammies, hair unbrushed, glassy eyed, with a crying baby on your knee.
(Can we please talk about pjs in the hotel lobby thing? What is with that? It’s a public place, not your own personal kitchen, despite the free breakfast. Put on some clothes, people!)
I know you won’t remember the difficulty of this time, because that’s how it works. It’s a little like childbirth; it’s no fun going through it, but once that baby’s in your arms, you forget all the pain. I don’t remember those sleepless nights. Those days are long gone for me. And while I do wonder where the time went, I can honestly say I wouldn’t go back. See, I have teenagers, now, and I absolutely love my life with teens.
Yes, you read that correctly. I love begin a mom to teens.
All those years spent teaching little ones to eat and poop and wipe their noses paid off. I haven’t spoon-fed anyone or wiped a bottom in years. And while I encourage one of my people to blow her nose more often than she’d like, I’m not the one holding the tissue.
Our Christmas break included a 13-hour car ride that was full of laughter and no tears. (Well, there was a little crying. We listened to the soundtrack of Frozen. You listen to that sweet little girl sing, “Do you want to build a snowman,” and not cry. I dare you.) We have so much fun that I wish we had a reality show. Surely it would sell: family with a married mom and dad and three teens have fun together. We’d be our own little freak show because no one would believe it’s possible.
But that’s the thing – it is possible. All those years of sleepless nights and wiping noses and filling sippy cups makes it possible. Those years spent serving your children is your opportunity to teach them. Set good boundaries. Make sure they know you’re their parent, not their friend. Teach them to sleep (yes, this is possible!) and give ample opportunities to practice good table manners (yes, this is important!). Teach them to follow through on their chores (a seemingly endless task) and remind them that their most important friendship is with their brothers and sisters. And at every turn, tell them of the good providence of the Lord and the endless ways his blessings are seen in your family.
Above all else, pray for those little people. Pray, pray, pray. And pray the Lord gives you the grace to parent well.
Children are a blessing from the Lord. Whatever age yours are, don’t miss that.
Hope the rest of your Christmas trip went well!