Better Than the Last

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received came from the friend who I turn to often for wisdom and guidance. The friend who cuts through the craziness of mom guilt and bad advice and gets right to the core of what is important.

When my babies were babies, and I started to lament that they wouldn’t be babies forever, my friend Angel told me not to worry because every parenting stage is better than the last. I almost didn’t believe her, but I trusted her. Not long ago, I texted Angel to tell her she was right. The older my kids get, the better this parenting thing gets. So I wanted her to share this wisdom with you.

Here is Angel, in her own words:

How to enjoy every stage of parenting |

When my kids were young, my least favorite comments from friends and strangers alike were how terrible the teenage years would be.

“Oh, you are going to be so busy with all their activities.”

“Oh, three girls? Just wait until their hormones kick in.”

“Oh, four teenagers? Just wait until they start to rebel. You will be in for it.”

“Oh, they are going to break your heart over and over. Just. You. Wait.”

Each snarky comment set my jaw a little stronger, furrowed my brow a little deeper, and put me on my knees a little bit longer. I learned to wave my hand between me and the self-proclaimed prophet, and in my heart declare, “We do not receive any of that negativity.”

When Alysa asked me to write a guest post about this, I wanted to skip the writing and sit and have coffee with you instead. If I could, I would lean forward, grab your hand (sorry, I’m a touchy person, don’t be offended) look you in the eye, and share my heart with you. I might say something like this:

“Listen. When your kids become teenagers that you hope respect, love, and want to be with you, then you better make sure you’ve built a foundation throughout their childhood in which they know and believe that you have respected, loved, and wanted to be with them. Through each night awake. Through each dirty diaper. Through each sweet cuddle. Through the tea parties, and car races. Through the tedious homework. Through the long, silly little league games. Through the puking nights. Through every summer. Through the times when you feel trapped in the house. Through the million knock-knock jokes. Through the weirdo, goofy, random tween emotions. Through the hard days, good days, slow days, frustrating days, angry days, happy days. Each and every stage.”

As I looked to the future with babies on my lap, toddlers getting into everything, and my own identity swirling into mommy-land, I determined not to believe any condescending comments about the future of my family. To create a strategy to build security into my home became one of my goals. Through much prayer and some grace-filled insight, I realized I would need to be completely present through each stage of my kids’ lives in order to lay a foundation in each of them that I truly believed each stage was better than the last.
Better Than the Last - Loving every stage of parentingBetter Than the Last - Loving every stage of parentingBetter Than the Last - Loving every stage of parenting

Do you know what happened in my heart when I began to train myself to be present with them? It became real! I wasn’t longing for the future, for them to just learn to walk, or to wipe their own bottoms, or go to school. I felt content.

And the beauty is as they’ve gotten older, I haven’t longed for the past. People often ask if I miss when they were younger. My honest response is no. I can be reminiscent, but I love where we are currently. I feel content.
Better Than the Last - Loving every stage of parentingCurrently, I have a 12th grader, a 9th grader, and two 7th graders. They know and believe I love having teenagers around. I’m present in each good, hard, long, exhausting, frustrating, joyful day. We all feel content. So far, I can honestly say, each stage has been better than the last.

*I’m actually facing the biggest challenge of my be present strategy in parenting to date. You can read more about it here if you are interested. 

What are you biggest challenges in being present in each stage of parenting? What do you enjoy about the current age of your kids? How do you show them respect and value for who they are now?

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  • Laurel Ashcroft August 22, 2016 at 7:57 am

    I love this because she has it right (IMHO). I immersed myself in my children when they were still at home, from the moment of birth, to vomit on the couch, to spontaneous expressions of love, to catching them sneaking out as teens. People often said I needed to “get away from” them more often. To “find your own interests”. They were my interest. I didn’t want to get away from them. They were going to be with me for such a short time and I wanted to savor every moment because I knew all too soon (and at times, not soon enough), they would leave to live their own lives. There were countless times of self doubt, heartache, joy and tears, but in the end, when it was time for them to discover life on their own terms, I was ready for them to go. They challenged me to be better than I would have been, so that I could give them the best I had to offer. I have no regrets, no wishes that I had spent more time, paid more attention, been more involved with them. Because I did just that. Now I have all the time I want to pursue my own interests and “do my own thing”. I have a heart that is satisfied, like a full belly after a delicious meal. I love seeing them grow and develop as adults, observing how they express their individual personalities. And I am humbled that God entrusted me to raise 3 of his children. It’s the most important thing I will ever have done in my life. And the most gratifying.

    • Alysa September 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      I love this, Laurel and it is a huge encouragement to me. Thank you for sharing!