A good friend of mine once said to me, "The scales are always balanced." We were talking about the difficulties of raising small children. She had a child starting junior high and on the other end of the spectrum her youngest was a year and a half old. Her point was that parenting older children has its own set of difficulties and challenges. No matter what your situation in life or what stage you're at, life will never be without challenges. The scales are always balanced.
How many times have I caught myself thinking, "When he starts walking then at least I won't have to carry him around anymore" or "When she goes to school all day, then life will be easier because I'll have one less child at home" or "When I'm married, life will be easier because I'll have someone to go through life with" or "When I have children then I won't feel such emptiness and life will be easier"? By the way, the latter thought is the funniest to me now. When, when, when... Why do we suppose that one day life will be easier or better? As if life now were so terrible.
I can logically tell myself that life will always have its ups and downs, but for some reason I perpetually have that when in the back of my head. Today was a rough day and my whens went something like this - "When she starts preschool next week then I can focus more on him and he'll be happier so he wont' act out so much, and then I'll be happier. When he is one year older then he'll be able to communicate better and won't get so frustrated." Of course, the underlying "..and then life will be easier" is implied. If only I could remember that the scales will always be balanced. One day when my little ones are teenagers I'll probably look back and wish that my biggest problems were diaper changes, dribbling sippy cups and defiant toddlers. But for now thoughts of when often get me through the hardest days, and I'm not sure I'm ready to give that up.