Whatever you're upset about—the kids, your spouse, your job, your home, your hair—maybe it's not really all that bad. Maybe all the standards you are holding those things up to are not really standards, after all, but just different ways of doing things. Kids have different temperaments and spouses have different needs, and jobs and homes and hair have different...style. We all have different energy levels.
Different does not equal bad.
I tell you that because I'm telling myself the same thing.
Right now I am mostly upset about my kids getting older, because why would they do that to me? But at times I'm upset that we don't take more family vacations; that our garage is a free-for-all instead of free of all clutter; that I'm sick or tired or unlearned or incapable of some task greater than me.
But right now, it's the kids. And my kids are wonderful, so I have to ask myself what the problem really is.
It's not bad. It's just different.
I don't think I've ever really been a 'baby person', but it's funny how I can look back from my right-now and get all warm and fuzzy about how things used to be. How they used to climb in my lap in the mornings. How they cuddled up for a story. How they played dress-up and ate snacks at the table and asked to watch Winnie the Pooh. I've forgotten all the things God says a woman forgets (the pain, the exhaustion, the poop), and I've pondered precious moments in my heart, a little like Mary.
Now it's so different.
But it's not bad, I have to remind myself.
This is the truth: when we're told again and again how much we'll miss the kids being young and how hard it is to watch them grow up and away, we are less prepared for reality and less open to the goodness of older kids. Everyone has adorable baby pictures and cute toddler anecdotes, but we seem to have no imagination for a lovely life with older kids. We stop the fairy tales and the wonder at about age 10, and from there on out it's just a grind to the 'end'.
Get through. Stay strong. Keep your sanity.
If I could tell the younger-me something it would be enjoy these days, yes; but it would also be things will be different when they're older but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be bad.
I totally celebrate the fact that I can shop alone, but I also love when someone wants to come along with me. Likewise, it's all angel-song and rainbows when someone else cooks or bakes or taxis a younger sibling to and fro. I couldn't even have imagined these things ten years ago and now, I can mourn how different things are as I see my kids drive off together, or I can rejoice that it's different but not bad.
It's good, really.
And the loveliest thing in the world is living with other adult-like people who can do adult-like things — who get your jokes, know what you appreciate, offer to help, and who change light bulbs — and still, you have authority to tell them what to do. *grin*
Letting go of that authority in exchange for mutual discipleship is the hardest good thing about older kids, so far. Making room for them to be people and not little creatures who need constant direction and attention—that's scary, but it happens slowly.
We have so much power to decide what attitude we'll take and the daydreams we'll indulge in. Let's imagine that life really is good and that even the hard conversations, the mistakes, the changes, the unmet desires, the way all the things are different than you thought they'd be—let's imagine them as the best thing for us.
Things might just be different than you imagined and different is not bad.