Everyone said it would be over in the blink of an eye: this insane, hard, glorious season of having little ones. Little ones are everywhere—underfoot in the kitchen, in the bed in the middle of the night, in the potty when others of us (ahem!) need to use it.
This season of small children has nearly put me over the edge of sanity. Almost every day, I feel like I am at full capacity, nearing my threshold, overwhelmed. Everywhere I turn, there is need and roiling emotion and sin—and that’s just in my own heart, forget the six other people who live under my roof! After baby number five was born in 2015, I said, “I need a break from having babies! Maybe forever.” And so, we have been in a blissful season of recovery.
I have been having babies for nearly the last decade. My oldest turns nine in December and we have four more besides. I am weary. My mind is constantly multi-tasking; my body has nourished and grown and birthed five children approximately every two years; and my heart is full to bursting and very undone by trying to parent all these little individuals. There have been many days over the past eight years that I have wanted all of the mess of small children to hurry up and get along, to move on out, to get going to the next season. People told me to enjoy this season—the days are long, but the years are short, they said. And intellectually, I believed them, but under the ocean of being overwhelmed, it seemed like the end could not come too soon.
Then my baby turned one in April and suddenly, she is past the halfway mark, closer to little girl than baby. I wonder at what all of the children can do for themselves now, and for each other, without me. I marvel at their independence and how quickly it appeared—like the fiery edge of dawn that comes pouring over the horizon just when the night feels endlessly dark and cold and lonely. It came almost without warning. And while the break, the breath, the beauty of the sunrise are all welcome, I find myself longing for the middle of the night feedings, for the babes that crawled and cooed not that long ago.
Of course my home is still chaos embodied. Of course five children eight-and-under still feels like a LOT of little ones. But the other night I glanced at a photo with my two little girls lying side-by-side, one two years old and one who is about six months and I thought, “Is this season really ending? Is it almost over?”
This season that once seemed nearly endless, now nearly gone. Why do I cry when I write that? In the midst of it, it seemed like all I did was kick against the goads embodied in my children.
I am reading a short collection of poetry by Sarah Dunning Park entitled, What it is is beautiful: honest poems for mothers of small children. I like the poems, but more than anything, I like the perspective: What it is is beautiful. It has re-centered my soul in the truth that even in the hard, even in the ugly, even in the dark, whatever our gracious God pours over my life is beautiful. Each season, though often weighty and maybe difficult, also bears up a unique beauty that will be there only for that particular space and time.
How can I learn to sit in it, to sit with it, to lean into the beauty and see it in the moment, not just after it is over? I am practicing thanksgiving and stillness in the final days of the only season I have ever really known with my children: crazy-overwhelmed. And I pray each successive season will find me more aware of how precious and beautiful it is.
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