Parenting: This. Is. Hard.

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LUKE JAMES 1MOTwo months ago, our sweet baby boy decided to make his debut a month early. A slow leak of amniotic fluid meant a heightened risk of infection for baby and me, so much to my dismay, the nurses hooked me up to a bag of Pitocin one Wednesday night in early October and induced a labor I wasn’t expecting that day or for nearly another month. (I told them that it wasn’t a give-birth kind of night—more of a movie-and-popcorn kind of night, but they disagreed and hooked me up anyway.) Thankfully, our sweet boy is a fighter, and he came out kicking and screaming. One short NICU stay later, and a few jaundiced trips back and forth to the hospital, we had our precious James Valor home with us for good.

Since then we’ve been slowly getting accustomed to life with a 3.5 year old, nearly 2 year old, and newborn. Did I mention all three of them are boys? Energetic, sometimes mischievous, hard-of-hearing boys…yes, that’s the kind we have. They are also sweet, adorable, can’t-help-but-kiss-their-precious-little-cheeks kind of boys. That kind. I love them to pieces, despite the fact that the two oldest are currently keeping each other awake upstairs rather than napping. I’m choosing to ignore this so I can write a word or two to you because God has put something on my heart to say. And here it is: this isn’t easy.

I know you know it, but sometimes I think we as parents tend to think that we are the only ones who feel this way, that perhaps somehow everyone but us has it together, that perhaps other people’s children are innately better-behaved, or other parents are just better than us at balancing it all. Well, I want to say that it just isn’t so. Sure, some of us are better organized. Some of us have more experience with little children. But none of us get a free pass. Everyone who is privileged enough to be a parent has the incredibly hard task of raising a little one from complete dependence to independence. Every one of us is given a child whose heart is bent away from God and towards selfishness. And all of us must pray and parent diligently to turn their hearts toward Him.

So in case you’ve seen me on a good day, when my hair is combed and make-up is actually on; in case, you’ve assumed that because my children sometimes can be super-sweet that I’m one of those have-it-all-together kind of moms, well, just in case you thought that about me or some other mom you know, then let me set the record straight. Parenting is hard. It’s hard for me and hard for all of us.

Here’s where I feel like I’m supposed to offer you some great pick-me-up, some biblical principle that makes what I’ve just said all better. I don’t know that I can. I know that the struggle is worth it. I know that the love I have for these little guys is bigger than the frustration I feel on a daily basis. I know that God’s grace is sufficient for me even in my weakness, even on the hardest of days. And I want you to know that too. But I don’t want any of that to eclipse what I’ve just said. This isn’t easy.

And if you don’t hear it or feel it from anyone else, I want you to know dear, sleep-deprived friend; I want you to know dear, when-will-he-ever-potty-train-wondering mommy; I want you to know sweet sister in the can-I-throw-one-of-those-tantrums-too trenches that I hear ya, I feel ya, and I understand. This. Is. Hard. I’m right there with you and so is God. (He has some pretty obstinate children also. At least that’s what I hear.)


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  1. Thank you Catherine. I really needed to hear this message from God today. It brought tears to my eyes and a longing for Him.
    It is a ordinary day here, but I am feeling insufficient for the task of parenting my 15 and 18 year old sons! I have fallen short so many places. My hope and prayer is that God will fill the gaps and use these things to bring each of them to a realization of their need for him.
    I have missed your posts. They always point me back to God.
    Your newest boy is beautiful! Love the picture with his big brother.

    1. Ah Karen, I don’t yet know what it’s like to be there, but I can imagine what a hard stage that is. I know you and I know how you seek to honor God. He sees. He knows. He cares. I love the psalm where it says God holds our tears–they are precious to him, and I’ve certainly already shed a few on my parenting journey so far. Anyhow, all that to say your children are in his hands. Do all that he has called you to while you rest in his Adequacy. Wish I could give you a hug today. Sending my love.

  2. Thank you for your words, Catherine. So encouraging. I missed reading your blog…Glad to have you writing again!

    1. Thanks, Courtney! I’ve been writing things in my head for weeks, but haven’t had a moment to sit down and actually write til now. I miss it too! Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I am a grandmother of 3 young children who helps out when I can…I raised 3 of my own who are all independent, happy (thank you, Lord) young adults. My memory has not faded, in part due to my grandchildren, as to the difficulties and struggles of parenthood, in particularly motherhood. My words of advice and encouragement are these…on those days of self doubt, you are doing a much better job than you think you are…the most important things are that they know that they are loved by our heavenly Father and you. The time you spend with them will be far more remembered than anything you give them. As for the perfect house, kids don’t notice dirty floors and messiness…oftentimes the houses they feel most comfortable in are the ones where they can be themselves, where there’s lots of laughter and fellowship. Also on those days or periods when you feel stretched, trying to spread yourself to meet everyone’s needs, remember this, kids are resilient. You can always make it up later…we are all human and children forget everything after a hug or cuddle. So, love on those babies and little ones…they grow up faster than you think. You’ll be like me one day…missing the noise, chaos, and longing for that beautiful sound of children in your home.

  4. One more thing…every child is unique. And each child comes with his/her own challenges in parenting. (It is one of the reasons I never trusted parenting books.) What may work with one child, fails miserably for another. I truly believe God knows our heart and challenges with each one. On potty training…my beloved late pediatrician admonished me when I was so worried about one of my late potty trainers…he asked me if I saw any 7 year olds walking around in diapers, which of course I didn’t…new siblings, moves, major changes all delay/upset potty training. My middle child completely regressed when her baby brother was born and her Daddy was deployed with the Navy. Don’t compare with other parents…every child, every situation is unique. It will come.

  5. Thanks, Catherine, for the encouragement. Sons are challenging in a different way than a daughter… Yours is a good reminder to press on, press forward, and lean into the Father for His strength and wisdom in this adventure.

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