A Posture of Gratitude in the Madness of Parenting

That was when I heard a voice inside telling me, “No. Pause and take it all in. Breathe in these precious moments. Savour the chaos”.

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There in an instant, summer is almost over. I can imagine for most parents with school-aged children, July and August can produce many different types of feelings with kids being away from school. “Man, I missed them” to “When does school start again?” Summer sports, play dates, cottages, and pilgrimages to Grandma’s are just a few of the many expectations of a child’s vacation away from school. This summer at our house was much different than others. A curious one-year-old, a playful five-year-old whom has yet to experience school life, a working mom, and myself who is eager to return to work after a 5-month absence due to Covid-19 school closures. I have certainly enjoyed setting routines and regular rhythms during this time for my family. However, change is fast approaching for us with the advent of kindergarten approaching, Grandma-sitters taking over, and of course the constant calendar swapping to keep us in check. It is a new frontier for our family; things will never be the same again, and I grieve. I grieve the daily madness. Yes, madness. The unpredictable. The steady diet of diaper changes, booboo fixing, “dats mine”, “I’m hungry but I don’t want that”, and so on. There were days where I started with a deep breath and exhaled, “Let’s get through this”. However, it was in those moments that I felt heavy without the ability to move. That was when I heard a voice inside telling me, “No. Pause and take it all in. Breathe in these precious moments. Savour the chaos”.

The first few times this happened I wondered what it meant. I then had a conversation with someone which centered on worship. I listened to this individual describe the beauty of sitting still and silent and staying in that moment whether it be alone or in a small group. Being able to share space in His presence communally through song, art, poetry, or story. Right then and there, a sense of calm flooded my mind and heart. That voice again. As I listened and thought about how difficult it was to carve out daily time to sit and worship and meditate and drink in His presence, I immediately felt as if I had already been in that place daily in the chaos of our home. I remembered those times when I went to bed content at what I’ve been blessed with. The time and ability to comfort my boys when in pain and hurting. I posture myself to be grateful for those loud cries and screams of frustration juxtaposed with the laughs and giggles and babbles that litter the day. These moments are just that: moments, and they are forever fleeting. The pitch, note, and tone of a one-year-old cry will never be the same when they’re four. The belly-roll laughter of a five-year-old from daddy’s silly story time voice will soon turn to a light chuckle at ten years old. I regard those sounds as a beautiful song being lifted to the heavens. I view them literally as a once in a lifetime experience. As moments that will never sound or feel and look the same ever again.

I grieve the time I let slip by for what I perceived as inconvenience or non-compliance when things didn’t go the way I envisioned. I took for granted the daily monotony of mispronounced words and repetitive instruction. Instead of just asking for strength to get through, I now ask for grace and patience. I pray for the ability to sit still in those hard moments to take in all the madness of parenting. In this posture, I realized that I have an extra measure of love to express to my family, and an extra measure of gratitude towards God. In those times of madness, I see that a way to worship God is to delight in my children the way He delights in us. I believe there’s a saying, “Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.” Maybe He also shakes His head with a smile as His child gets soaking wet from dancing in that storm.

Nathan Scott is a Culinary Artist and attends The Meeting House Downtown Hamilton. He is married to Rachel and mad dad to Titus and Silas.