For me, it was the day my prayers went from, “Thank you, God, for making me such a great parent,” to “God, I am making a desperate mess of things and I am horribly unqualified for this job. HELP ME!”
Just like a few years into marriage, when I realized the honeymoon was over and I was stuck with this guy FOREVER, somewhere along the way it began to dawn on me that my kids were, well, as Beck commented the other day, flawed. James Dobson says (my paraphrase) that the personality traits that first attracted you to your spouse are the very ones that cause annoyance later on down the road. As Allie (14) would say, "Um, yeah."
The same is true for our kids. My child who is extremely artistic can’t keep a room clean to save her life. My child who is exceptionally bright struggles with grace and flexibility with others. My child who is easygoing is almost impossible to motivate. Each one has his or her own set of idiosyncrasies that, if I think about them too long, are (I'm quite convinced) specifically designed to make me go insane.
No matter where you find yourself in the parenting journey, however, I believe the end of the honeymoon can be the best thing ever to happen to your family. It was for us. The end of my marriage honeymoon meant letting go of my unrealistic expectations of my husband that kept me from appreciating and encouraging the qualities that would make him the man he was destined to become. Not the man I wanted him to be, but the man as God created him to be. I had to go back to what I believe about love: it is not a feeling, but a commitment “till death do us part.” My commitment was to the person, not to the dream.
The end of the parenting honeymoon means the end of looking at my children as I dreamed they should be, and, instead, accepting them where they are. Now. It means the end of relying on books, techniques, and comparing with other moms, and realizing I need to figure out what works for my unique family.
It also means accepting my own limits, the limits of my husband, and realizing the task of raising children is going to take a whole lot longer and require a whole lot more of me than initially anticipated. It means (by God’s grace) sticking it out and not giving up – as Ed Young says, “commitment on steroids” - when my feelings are screaming to run the other way. It is the end of “works” and the beginning of “faith.”
I want to encourage you today. I don’t know where you are, but if you haven’t had a discouraging day as a mom yet, you will. Things can look very bleak sometimes. Maybe the end of the honeymoon has left you with no hope.
But God hasn’t forgotten you. The end of the story hasn't yet been told. The end of one dream could be just the beginning of something even more beautiful.
Hang in there, and hang on to Him. You ARE going to get through this.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9