Are you missing those carpool lines? Has sleeping in morphed into staying up late?
We had bad storms in Texas resulting in power outages. Friends with teens had no internet or Netflix and the cell phone towers were on overload with people texting. Board games have now been relabeled “bored games.”
We recently kept two of our grandkids for five days, and, I confess, I had forgotten how constant parenting can be.
We had a great time, but today I’m typing this blog post with a cup of coffee that hasn’t grown lukewarm during a diaper change or milk spill. My house is no longer a maze of puzzles, cars, and yesterday’s socks. Daniel Tiger isn’t singing the same “lesson” over and over again—although I really liked his lessons.
I’m sitting in my chair, with my computer and able to think because I am by myself.
(Okay, I’m kind of sad about that last one.)
Is your bathroom a refuge?
I often say parenting is the toughest job you will ever love.
It is tough to handle the short attention spans, loads of laundry, loads of meals, and episodes of childhood drama, and then fall dead asleep so you can do it all again the next day.
For those who work, you might not have your days filled with kids, but you also don’t have many nights off. You clock out of one full-time job to come home to your other full-time job. It’s a hard moment when you realize your only personal time is in the bathroom—maybe.
I do have a verse for all of you who find yourselves in the 24/7, 360 (give or take) days of full-time life. It’s actually Paul’s word for all of you, and all of us who are on the other end of the parenting timeline as well.
Paul taught the Philippian church how he survived his hardships—and he had a LOT of those. Interestingly, you have to read these verses with a first-century understanding to have their full impact. If you are parenting full-time right now, this should help!
Paul’s word to parents
Paul wrote, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11–13).
Paul had been harassed, beaten, and thrown in prison, but there were also better times, when his ministry was booming and fun.
Does that sound familiar?
One of the highlights and lowlights about parenting is that almost nothing lasts for very long. Whatever you are loving or not loving about your current season is going to change. It will get easier.
It will also get tougher.
You can be content—in every circumstance.
Think of the “baby/toddler years” as your prison years. (Just kidding . . . maybe.)
It feels like the person you were has left the building, and the person you have become is unfamiliar. It’s not just your kids who are growing and changing each day. And they aren’t the only ones having tantrums either!
But, what’s great about those years?
Think: snuggles in the chair, tons of smiles, lots of laughs, oodles of growth, and the purest joy of parenting.
All you have to do is walk into the room to make them smile. And, when you go to sleep at night, you know they are safely tucked in their beds down the hall.
Think about the elementary years as the glory days.
They can entertain themselves—at least for a while. You can take a longer shower, schedule a haircut, go to work with a lighter heart, or lunch with friends. You can do something you want to do, or need to do, without feeling guilty about being gone.
You don’t have to worry about them reaching for a hot burner or swallowing a bug, but you do have to think about grades, friends, and growth. And they are almost always tucked into their beds down the hall.
Middle school might be more like those prison years.
On the other hand, those years hold some of my favorite memories. What’s better than a bunch of smelly kids after school, packed into the car with their smelly backpacks, laughing about something that happened at school to some unfortunate child or teacher, all the while making rude sounds with their smelly armpits.
Good times. Stinky times.
You get glimpses of the children you raised and glimpses of the adults they will choose to become. And you are kind of glad for the nights when they aren’t tucked in their beds down the hall.
High school years are amazing.
The hugs are infrequent but powerfully sweet. The kids you raised have morphed into young versions of a future adult. They are too young to make the life choices they have to make. Yet, they make great choices, most of the time.
And your favorite sound is their key in the front door when you know they have made it home to their bed down the hall.
Content = Capable
When Paul wrote that he had learned to be content in any situation, he was actually speaking against the Stoic philosophy that was prevalent during that day and continues to exist today. It was a self-sufficient philosophy that taught people to put up with the tough stuff because there is nothing that could be done about it anyway. A lot of people parent that same way and miss the chance to be “content.”
We often quote Philippians 4:11 and 4:13 separately and therefore miss the point.
Paul had learned to be content in any situation because he learned that Christ would give him the strength for every situation. In other words, content = capable in Christ.
The key to being a content parent is not to live in “survival” mode. Don’t look to Facebook for your best advice. The only perfect advice comes from Christ. He can make you content and capable for every season of this parenting journey.
Philippians 4:11–13 for Parents
Paul would say, “Learn that Christ will make you a content and capable parent for every situation ahead. Whether it is a high time or a low time, you can learn to succeed. In any and every circumstance, you have the secret to success. You have the Spirit of Christ, and you can handle every season of parenting in his strength, with his perfect wisdom.”
The key is to accept what you already know to be true: you aren’t sufficient—but Christ is.
You can’t learn enough to get it right, but if you lean enough you will get it right more often.
And for the inevitable times you don’t . . . there is grace and the chance to try again tomorrow.
Content = Capable in Christ.
You’ve got this!