I gave birth to seven children in less than ten years. My closest age span is 14 months and largest is 21 months. For years I had toddlers, children in diapers, children who could not dress themselves, little ones who needed naps, needed help blowing their noses, siblings who fought, kids who broke things out of carelessness. While all of my children slept through the night by three months old, I still had countless nights of interrupted sleep due to illnesses and some bad dreams. We waited outside of bedrooms to make sure children stayed in bed during nap times and bedtimes. We made little ones sit at the table until they finished meals. We brushed teeth, gave baths, read stories, cleaned up spills. Laundry piled out of hampers in the laundry room and it never seemed like I saw the end.
No, it wasn't all bad. We had some pretty good times and made some happy memories. But, it wasn't easy. It was often exhausting and I shed many tears. I messed up a lot. But, my husband and I also prayed a lot. We read our Bibles individually and with our children. We taught them to read their own Bibles. We taught them the Bible stories and they acted them out. We sang the hymns together. We took them to church and to various ministries. In short, we did our best to point our children to Christ. And that was often exhausting, as well.
The other day in my reading, I came across a chapter of Scripture I have often read and heard preached. Still, it jumped out at me.
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late,
to eat the bread of sorrows:
for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
My husband and I labored. I had sat up late and got up early. We wondered if our quiver was too full at times. We wondered if we were doing the right thing by having this many children in such a short time.
But now, though we still have young children and many years to go, we do have five teenagers...three which have finished their home education and are taking the beginning steps into adulthood. At this time - today - I can truly say that we are happy. At least two of our children are not ashamed and have been able to tell others about their faith in Jesus. One was able to quote John 3:16 in her secular college class last week. Each of our teenagers continue to talk with us about their fears, hopes and dreams. They feel comfortable enough to tell us things they know may not make us happy and are willing to listen to what we have to say. Today, all of our children continue to attend church. Each of them works hard. Those who have jobs outside the home are making their bosses happy and are excelling in their workplaces.
I do not say these things to brag on my kids or to pat myself on the back. I say these things to prove that God is faithful and that His Word is true. Our quiver is full - not too full, but just right. Our children have truly become our reward and we are happy with them. They are not perfect. I still shed tears. I still pull late nights and early mornings. They don't always do things to make us happy, but still we are happy with our full quiver and with our arrows. They are currently flying straight, though there may be a wobble here and there. With a bit more sharpening, I have faith they will fly straight and far.
Young mom, I know it's hard. I know the mundane daily tasks are exhausting. I know you may wonder if it's really worth disciplining, teaching, etc. I know you often feel overwhelmed and inexperienced. But, let me tell you that God's Word is true. Keep training your children the way God tells you and pointing them to Jesus and one day you will feel something more than exhaustion. You will experience happiness.
Join me in the next few posts for some practical help in getting through these tough years of little ones and on to happy (though sometimes emotionally challenging) teen years. It is my hope and prayer that you will experience the happiness that God promises parents who follow His ways.