“We are never going to have fun again.”

Tom and I had taken our three young kiddos on a weekend church retreat. They were 1 month, 20 months and almost four years old. Sleep was scarce but  there was a bounty of  fussing, crying, and kid chasing.
We got sucked into the dream of the perfect family retreat in the mountains near San Diego. 
We loved the outdoors, the hiking, the trees, the fresh air. The thought of being with our church friends warmed our souls. Heck, we had the kid thing down. After all, we were on number three.
Piece of cake, right?

Yah, No.
Our expectations did not match reality. 
We had cranky kids and we were cranky parents.  
The retreat was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience.

We survived the weekend. We even went on to have baby number four.
Trips to the grocery store consisted of one cart full of kids (infant to five years old) the other buggy full of food and diapers. I navigated the isles with swift and stealthy push me, pull you maneuvers.
On one grocery excursion, one of the four had a meltdown. She was tired, hungry, and hot. (One of those conditions is enough to catapult even the most laid back toddler into eruption mode.)
But I had this down. After all, I was a mama of four.

Piece of cake, right?
Yes.  Really.
We thrived in the moment. Think of it. Only one of four was pitching a fit, the other three were unaffected.  
And me?
 I realized it wasn’t a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. It was only a moment.

“Bad day, huh?” The checkout clerk was sympathetic to my plight. I appreciated her kindness.
“No, just a bad moment.”

It was the best worst day because the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad stuff was just a moment.

I learned  my attitude about my unmet expectations is the difference between defining my day as the best worst day or a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Here are somethings God has taught me along the way:
I’m not the perfect mom. 
My husband isn’t a perfect dad. 
My kids are not perfect kids. 

Imperfection behaves as you would expect, imperfectly.

My expectations need to be filtered through the not so perfect sieve. 
My perspective and attitude determine my demeanor and my response. 
Attitudes follow perspective and expectations. 

I can choose to commit to be calm even when things (kids) get crazy. 
I can choose to be kind even when circumstances (or little ones) are frustrating.

A regulated response is more effective than an emotional reaction. 

When I mess up God’s grace and forgiveness cover me. 
When my kids mess up God shows me how to extend grace and forgiveness to them.

Forgive and give grace as I have been given forgiveness and grace. 
Life is full of moments. A bad moment doesn’t make for a bad life (or even a bad day). 

It’s just a terrible, horrible, no good very bad moment. 
So it’s okay.  (And by the way, we did have fun again.)
The wise in heart are called discerning,

    and gracious words promote instruction.

Proverbs 16:21

With faith, hope, and love,
Lori

Head over to Amazon to find Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (Wildenberg & Danielson).

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About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.