REAL TALK: Parenting (the good and bad)

Before I had kids I remember having this vision of perfect harmony and perfection. There’s something about ignorance that makes parenting look so idyllic. I remember daydreaming about trips to the zoo, long walks around the neighborhood, “perfect” family dinners, and beautiful family pictures marking every significant milestone. I would daydream of the holidays and of the amazing traditions we would start as a family. You know fresh cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, homemade pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, and time around the fire every Christmas Eve. I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.



Now, after having two boys Owen (4) and August (2) is that reality? Absolutely not. But, are there moments of reality described above? Of course, moments, exceptions to the norm. Most days are filled with waking early (sometimes before the sun is up) to one or two boys who have wet their beds, or who woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or who already insist on bugging their brother just for the fun of it.


August, Owen and I at Owen's spring program.

Dinner is usually eaten as quickly as possible, while trying to keep both boys in their seats, food off the floor, and the dog off our laps. Dinner conversation usually revolves around some scolding or maybe a “poop” story from school or daycare. There’s no talking about the weather, let alone how mom and dad are doing.


Day in and day out, Matt and I fill our time with trying to figure out the best way to occupy our boys. During the week, days consist of daycare pick-up and drop-off, daycare closures (who’s turn is it now to cover?), activities, and doctor’s appointments. Weekends revolve around nap time, family gatherings, grocery shopping, trips to the park, and a lot of patience and grace for the real moments of whining, hitting, and screaming. 


But, that’s not even the worst of it. The worst of parenting is when you are scared beyond belief because your child is sick and no doctor can explain to you why. The worst of it is when you see your child left out or bullied for the first time. The worst of it is when you look down at the grocery store and for a split second you can’t see them and you think they are gone. The worst of it is when you can’t protect them against something and you have to watch them fail. The worst of it is loving your child so much that sometimes you worry that you’re just not good enough for them. 


One time I remember asking my mom why she didn’t tell me what parenting was really like and she said, “then no one would have kids.” I laughed at the time, but I do think there’s a bit of truth to it. But, you know what? I would still jump right into the crazy, murky world of parenting. I know that it’s easy to say that now, since I don’t really have a choice, but if I were to have a glimpse into the reality, the real life of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly, my answer would still be yes.


I believe that our Lord doesn’t make mistakes and if He laid the desire on my heart to be a mom and blessed me with these two amazing boys then it's ultimately all for His glory. I also believe He wanted to change and grow me in ways that I couldn’t comprehend until my title changed to, Mom. A title that I felt completely unqualified to hold. 



My motherhood journey has been far from a “Pinterest” worthy collage of photos, but it holds it’s own beauty. A beauty that has been shared between me and the three most important men in my life. 



As I grow older and nearing another birthday, I see that there is growth and beauty in the places that I least expect it. The beauty falls in the cracks of life when we aren’t looking for it. When we’re not trying to capture the perfect image for Instagram. 


Last week I was tucking Owen into bed for the night. Owen is the “King” of stallers. This kid of ours has never been a good sleeper, and I don’t say that lightly. Matt and I were still taking turns getting up with him in the middle of the night well into his second year. Owen will be five in October and I don’t think I’ve slept through the night since before he was born. But, back to my point. I was tucking Owen into bed, and through his drowsy, slurred words he says, “Mama, I couldn’t have asked for a better Mama than you.” 

And just like that - everything from that day was erased. All of the imperfections. All of the things I wish I would have gotten done and didn’t, all of the tears, screams, and whines. Those 11 words brought me back to something bigger than myself. It brought me back to being called to be this little boy’s mama.


Matt, Owen, and I at the top of "Herman the German" in New Ulm on Father's Day 2019.

Parenting. One word. A word that carries so much weight and is such a different story for all of us. I wanted to share a glimpse into our current reality, because I wish someone would have felt safe enough with me to share. Not to scare me, or to talk me out of wanting to be a mom, but to prepare me. To teach me. To tell me that I’m not alone. I spent the first year of Owen’s life thinking I was doing everything wrong. I wish I would have spoken up much sooner than I did.


I know that there’s books on parenting. Hundreds of them and I haven’t read a single one. Maybe it’s time that I do (especially around discipline), but maybe it’s time that we all embrace the reality of parenting and start sharing, or at the very least stop judging one another, because you never know a certain family’s story and no two family’s stories will ever be written the same.  


Blessings to you and your family!

Jenna


Three items that I’m grateful for:

  • Cold press coffee

  • Vitamin D that we get from real sunshine

  • My boys (all of them) for making me who I am.

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