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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Six Encouraging Words for Overwhelmed Parents

There ARE some days when everything goes right. But as the mother of four children,  those days are the exception and not the rule.

I feel overwhelmed reading Facebook and Instagram, watching all the mothers who seem to have it all under control. My boys are older now and mostly out from under my day-to-day control, but I remember those remarkably challenging moments when they were young. School mornings were controlled chaos. I sometimes felt like I was the worst mom in the world as we’d argue, and fuss over one thing or the next. Papers that needed to be signed THAT DAY suddenly appeared five minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive, even though discussions the night before assured me there was nothing I needed to do.  Interims proved that despite assurances from the boys that they were on top of EVERYTHING, the teacher did not agree. And money seemed to bleed from my accounts to support this fee, or that purchase, or signups for events.

Even now, as the boys are older, there are plenty of times when they are frustrated and calling to me for guidance and support. But not too much guidance and support, or I cross over the invisible line that makes me a nuisance rather than a sage portal of wisdom. I vacillate between wishing they were younger again, all here in the house under my control, to marveling at how independent they are. I did have one event when the boys were younger that helped me through the most difficult of times. Even now, when things get crazy and I am about to lose my mind, I remember the words of a stranger after a particularly difficult outing.

At the time, I had a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, an 18-month-old, and a newborn. I won’t relate the gory details; let’s just say that at the end of our family hike that morning, my four sweet boys were all in their car seats screaming, and I was standing behind our SUV, throwing strollers and yelling. Finally, I slammed the door shut and sat on the truck’s rear bumper with my head hanging down, bemoaning my abysmal parenting skills.

Just then, two women appeared from out of the woods where I was walking with the boys and started getting into their car. I looked up, a bit ashamed as I was sure they’d seen my meltdown, and said, “Very tough day.”

They smiled back and, with no condescension, one said, “Don’t worry; there’ll be other days.”

Her comment didn’t judge my mothering skills, or my children, or offer advice on what I was doing wrong. It was a purely kind thing to say. It was a statement of hope and perspective that reminded me that no matter how tough things can get, there will be times that make it all worthwhile.

So, as the school year gets into full swing and things like late busses, quarantines, and canceled school days try our very last nerve, I hope that you too can pause for a moment and remember the gift of those simple six words.

Dear mom and dad:

“Don’t worry; there’ll be other days.”

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