If there is one thing my husband and I have learned in parenting, it is that the unexpected can happen at any time. Whether it’s sleep, discipline, teething, or any other subject really. Once a so-called pattern develops, just watch it unravel before your very eyes. And with that little nugget comes this piece of wisdom we have also learned along the way:
Never, ever say “never.”
Or “always” for that matter.
We were taught this very concept years ago in our premarital classes at church – don’t use the words “never” or “always” to your partner. So why didn’t we think the same would apply to parenting?
I’ve heard it countless times. Conversations between mothers. “Oh, your child wakes in the night? Mine never does.” Fast forward a month and now she’s complaining her preschooler is waking from bad dreams.
Or the mom boasting that her toddler eats 99% of what she puts in front of her. I’m one of those who dared to utter these words when my firstborn still ate everything I cooked for her. There’s a reason that all kid menus at restaurants are comprised of the same five meals. I had so much to learn.
I’ve heard parents brag about never giving their children pain relievers or antibiotics. Then sickness hits. Or the expectant parents who said they’d never let their kid sleep in their bed. Then, a child is born who just will not sleep. (Oh yeah, that last one was me, too!)
Before kids, I was way worse in this department – there are so many “nevers” that I totally do now! Allowing screen time at a young age being a big one. But, oh my gosh, this job is so hard! Years ago at a church moms group, a therapist told us that if we’re in a burnt-out place and have to pick between some screen time for our kids or possibly doing/saying something we may regret, to just pick the screen time. He said our kids will thank us for having a more refreshed mother. I remember finding such relief in this statement – especially coming from a professional. And personally, that screen time is well worth it if I can get a few moments to recharge.
I’ve also reaped an important, yet painful, lesson of these “never” statements: Humility.
It seems the times I said I would never parent this way or that way that I was in desperate need of humbling. Perhaps I needed to walk in someone else’s shoes for a day. Even with small things, I’ve realized there is simply no blanket statement I could ever accurately make about parenting.
Motherhood has shaped me in ways I never saw coming. It has molded me into someone who struggles constantly – to breathe, to be gentle to their small souls, to strive for patience. Imperfection has never been so blatantly obvious in my life as it is now that I’m a parent. I have learned the hard way that I can’t control most things.
Struggle may be a continual presence in my life, but thankfully, so is grace. Grace from God, grace for my kids and maybe most importantly, grace for myself. And grace is something that never, ever runs out. That is one “never” statement that deserves an exception.