Parenting in the Dark
Dark clouds hovered low in the air. A dense mist hung suspended in the atmosphere; fog blanketed the horizon.
The perfect backdrop for the dark mood settling deep in my heart.
I stood and looked out the window, simply willing myself to breathe. To move under the heavy burden of the sadness and frustration. I just needed a minute to think. To breathe. To settle.
The baby’s cries rose swiftly and wafted down the hall. I hung my head. Did he have to wake up now? I wasn’t ready to be mom yet this morning. I could barely keep my own emotions in check let alone be the shining example of goodness and light every mother is supposed to be. Slowly I trudged to his room and eased the door open. His cries ceased and a dimpled grin greeted me. Tears burned my eyes as the emotions brimmed just beneath the surface. We snuggled and kissed and headed for his milk.
Good morning, mommy! Two raspy voices sang out in unison.
How am I going to do this today? How am I going to make it to the end of this day surviving, let alone thriving, instructing, guiding, loving? I barely had the energy to make my own breakfast, let alone the emotional stamina to endure a day of why’s, why not’s, life lessons, sing alongs, and story books.
Well, you know what? I did survive that day. And so did my family. How did I do it? By placing one foot in front of the other. One step, one story, one diaper change at a time.
I stayed tethered to my trusty spiral, taking sips of that precious Water of Life throughout the day to soothe my weary soul.
I put music on. Sometimes it was slow and spiritual, full of the promises of a loving Father and praises from an adoring child of God. Sometimes it was fast and fierce, with a bass line that beat in tempo with my adrenaline-fueled heart when the weight of reality washed over me anew. There were dances in the kitchen and quiet moments snuggled on the couch.
I cried. When I got a few minutes to myself I would let the tears come and wash through some of the hurt and anger. The release helped and lifted the weight just enough to get through to the next thing.
I prayed. Even when knee deep in board books and homework checks, my heart was crying out to the Father for wisdom, strength, peace, joy.
I enjoyed my children. You’d be surprised at how much a simple game of pass the balloon can lift your spirits! Or how much a snuggle from a fresh-from-nap toddler can buoy a weary heart. I sat back and watched them play and laugh and create games only they could understand.
Dark times are going to come, my friend. And just as much as I wanted to hide away in my bed and sleep the hurt away, my family needed me. Life goes on, even when you’re hurting. Or frustrated. Or scared. Or stressed. But our kids need us. It’s by watching how we walk through the dark times in life that our wee ones learn how to survive them, and hopefully come out stronger on the other side.
That day was not the first dark valley I’ve walked through as a mother. And, as much as I’d like it to be, it surely won’t be the last. But when the next one comes I’m going to try to remember to read the Word, play music, cry, pray, and enjoy my children. And when your next valley comes, I hope and pray these little things will help you make it through to the bright day all the stronger.
How do you parent in the dark days?
This post is linked to Modest Monday, Welcome Home, Time Warp Wife, On Your Heart, Teach Me Tuesdays, Women Living Well, Works for Me, WIP Wednesday, Thrive at Home, Hearts for Home, Fellowship Fridays, Faith Filled Fridays.
Thank you for this post. It’s so poetic and beautifully written…I feel like I could have written it myself (not nearly as beautifully), as this is how I have felt almost daily for quite some time. So many mornings my quiet time is interrupted and I have to find other ways to cry out to God during the day amidst fighting with my toddler about meals or going potty.
I do what you said…worship music in the car, or upbeat music at the gym to pump up some energy. A warm cup of coffee. Sometimes crying out to a friend over FB or a coffee date, even while my child lays on her floor and screams because he’s teething and I forgot to give him motrin. Escaping to the bedroom for a few minutes of alone time. Scheduling an hour or two of childcare once or twice a week so I can refresh my soul. And then just enjoying all of the AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL moments that we do have, like yesterday when we got to go to a “punkin patch” and pick out a punkin together. Or when my son got excited and shouted hurray because his toast popped up. I record these things on facebook (through statuses, photos, video) and on my blog so I don’t miss out on the wonder that is being a mom.
Once again, thanks. You are not alone in the dark.
Oh, Aprille, yes….I’m there too!! Thank,you for sharing! Sometimes noticing the little joys is the hardest, but often one of the best medicines! 🙂
Oh Mama, how I can relate! Thanks so much for sharing. I just want to say how encouraged I am that you share the highlights on your Facebook, blog, etc. It is a blessing to other mommies to “keep on keepin’ on!” Lean into His grace friend, and be encouraged!
thank you leigh ann!
I’m no longer in that stage of parenting my four kids but I could so relate to post. I remember those days. Even now parenting teenagers I definitely have days that I don’t know how I am supposed to be the “shining example of goodness and light every mother is supposed to be”. I love the idea of spiral bound note cards for writing scripture.
I’m trying to prepare (brace?) myself that the hard times of motherhood don’t end when they leave home! That spiral has been such a God-send to me. Literally!! 🙂
Beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’ve walked through those days too, and you’re definitely right about the kids lifting your spirits. I also love that you focused on the music – it can be so soothing!!
Thanks also for linking up with our Marriage and Mommyhood link-party!! So grateful for your voice there today!!
Yes, music really does soothe the savage beast. 🙂
Jen, this was great! Thanks for all of the ideas.
I try to reach out to other friends when I’m feeling especially down.
That’s a great idea, Christy! Focusing on others and helping them helps take the focus off ourselves. Great word!
I survive the dark days much like you did. Adding that sometimes I put in an SOS call to friends. Or make myself get up and head to the park or somewhere different for a change of scenery. Thanks for sharing the hard moments!
Great ideas, Mary Beth!! We have an awesome little cafe/coffee shop just down the road that serves us well in that capacity. 🙂
I have three boys four and under. I know those dark days well. Clinging to Christ is essential. Chocolate is a close second…. 🙂 No, I know that moment of dread as a child wakes and the flood of emotions when we see that sweet face. Hugs. One foot in front of the other. Get some mama time if you can – MOPS has been my sanity saver. Thanks for linking up at Thrive @ Home!