It's a different experience for everyone, so different people in different circumstances may or may not agree with the title of this post at this point in time, but it's definitely true for me right now. I wouldn't have said it was so pre-Jack. I mean, parenting Elliot before he was 2 certainly wasn't a cake-walk, but hard? Ehh. However, there is something about parenting an emotional, potty-training little boy as well as a baby who refuses to sleep through the night that makes me say, yes, this is hard.
I see the spiritual purpose of it all, though: God definitely wants to teach me how to handle a lack of control. I cannot (despite what some might say - please keep your theories &/or advice to yourself, thank you) force my baby to sleep through the night, force him to take a bottle, or force my little boy (eh hem, "big boy") to poop on the potty. So I have to let go. These are big examples of every little thing with parenting - I do what I can, based on the guidance of Scripture & the Holy Spirit, then I just trust God with the rest. Sounds so much easier than it is! But I'm trying.
I also recognize the slow submission to selflessness & sacrifice. I'd say these two words sure characterize parenting! & they are part of the sanctification process, hmm, how about that coincidence! God wants to do a work in me, in us, - any parent - through parenting.
Josh & I have been praying about how to parent while displaying God's grace to our children. This was something that was on our hearts, & then our church started a discussion about it, & then the women in my life group decided to read a book about it too. Everything I do as a parent either displays God's grace in an accurate way, or in a way that distorts it - yikes. Talk about pressure. But if I am walking in God's grace accurately, it shouldn't be as much of a struggle. So God has been revealing to me how I need to truly understand & accept His grace for me first, before I can show it to my children. This is a lesson that this legalistic rule-follower needs to learn, for sure.
I have found that life is pretty difficult to navigate when left to our own devices. What do we turn to? The well-meaning advice of friends, the experience of professionals, books with titles that seem to address the subject at hand? I was telling a friend yesterday that I realized that when it comes to Jack's sleep, do I think more about what I read in an article, or do I pray & trust God's sovereignty over even such a thing as sleep? Do I really think I hold the cards to the degree of fixing or further messing up how many times he wakes at night? How foolish of me. Abide - pray - trust - walk in the Spirit. That is my responsibility. Then whatever my circumstances, I continue to do the above, & God really, really will orchestrate my circumstances as He deems fit, for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). & then... I continue to do the above. Again & again.
Abide - pray - trust - walk in the Spirit.
I'm praying I can get this down. Wouldn't life be easy if I could? :)