ENJOYING THE 'EARLY YEARS'

PARENTING CAN BE REALLY FUN. But many parents, including myself, have experienced times when the challenges of caring for young children have outweighed the joys. As a mother of three little ones, I've faced frustration when things weren't going the way I wanted. But I've found that prayer helps me tap into a reliable, spiritual source of joy that doesn't depend on the actions or attitudes of my kids.

Our family went through a rough period after our second daughter was born. Although she was a delightful baby, my recovery after the birth was slow, making it difficult to manage the responsibilities of caring for two young children at once. The happiness I was trying to hold on to felt threatened by selfdoubt and fatigue. Our two little girls often cried at the same time (the older one hadn't turned two yet), and I felt overwhelmed. But whenever I took the kids out in public, parents of grown children would smile and wistfully remark, "I hope you're enjoying every moment of this special time. Before you know it, they're grown and gone!" These comments made me realize that I definitely was not "enjoying every moment" with the girls. In fact, I wasn't feeling much joy at all.

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