After an exhausting day of being a mom, I was talking to my own mom on the phone. My 3 yr old had worn me out emotionally and physically, and I was ready to flop on the ground and not move until morning. My mom said, “someday you will look back and remember this as the best time of your life.” Well of course I thought, “hmmm. I hope NOT!” I absolutely loved the early years of our marriage and my years of being a single 20-something with only my future dreams ahead of me. I’m fairly certain that snot, puke, tantrums and poop have nothing to do with the best years of my life! So being the analytical person that I am, I continued to think about that phrase for a few weeks. “Are these really the best years of my life, and if they are, what exactly is the definition of ‘best’?” See? Just like I said: “analytical!” Hang in there. I think I’m on to something!
I am a true believer in perspective. Whatever is going on in life can seem to be good or bad, but this is not because of the circumstance itself, but because of how we PERCEIVE it. Recently a family friend said, “how we perceive the first snow of the winter will affect our mood for the entire season.” Maybe those aren’t her exact words, but you get the jest. Perception is reality! My husband loves that phrase. And it is so true. If you have a preconceived notion about a restaurant because your friend loves it, that will indeed affect your perception of that restaurant. Maybe you hate being a mother, and your negativity translates into the way you treat your child. Or on the flip side: you are a positive thinker, and you see the glass as half full. This perspective greatly affects your happiness or contentment with life. This is real life. There are crummy times, and there are amazing times. If Paul from the Bible can be content in all things (this guy was in prison!!!), then we can do it to!
So what about this word, “best”? These years are the best years of your life! Being my mom’s daughter for my entire life (it’s ok to laugh here), I know my mom’s true intention when she said this. I know that she didn’t mean to say that everything is coming up roses & I should be grateful for the bountiful blessings God has bestowed upon me. .. . . .like spit up on my shirt and poop on my shoes. So what is “best” about the years of bearing children? On a difficult day, this question is hard to answer. I can’t see past the toddler tantrums or sharpie marker scribbled all over the walls. But today I will tell you that the “best” is not about those little oopses as a parent. The BEST is experiencing a love that is so deep that you cannot explain it in words, watching your spouse change from being terribly impatient to having more patience than you, imparting your wisdom into an impressionable little being, caring for someone who cannot care for themselves, understanding unconditional love, recognizing how much God really loves us. . . .I could go on and on.
What I realize now is that “best” doesn’t mean it is better in terms of good life vs. bad life. To me, my best years are those where I grow the most. And when I have the most growth, I have usually endured the most struggles. These years are the best because they are challenging. These years have brought out something in me that I didn’t know was there. I am a more confident person because of my child. I see life differently because I see it through her eyes. Sometimes I am the student, and she is the teacher. These years are best because my life is forever changed.
I still look back at my single years and newlywed years as some of the best years of my life because we had a blast! We were carefree and did whatever we wanted to. We were selfish and loved it. But I’m sure when I am 80 years old and look back at my life, I will see these years of raising children as the best. .. . . .not because they were grandiose or always blissful. But simply because these were the years that changed me forever and made me into a better person.