There was a season when I thought it was getting the kids to sleep through the night. My wife Toni and I were so sleep deprived at one point I think we both actually thought we might be capable of murdering someone (mostly each other, because neither wanted to get up). At other points we thought it was getting the kids to eat their vegetables or stop biting strangers. At other times we’ve worried about spiritual outcomes. Sometimes it’s been the tension that parenting brought to our relationship – to the dynamic between the two of us.

All of this seems a bit strange, because our kids weren’t terribly high maintenance. They were great (a lot of the time I was the high maintenance family member).

But after doing this for just over eighteen years, I would have to say the biggest challenge is simply this: I’ve never done this before. I wish I had a plan from the start. And despite incredible advice, I really had no strategy. Even experience doesn’t teach you everything. As anyone who has had more than one child knows, no two behave the same way. The tactics that worked with child one can sometimes produce the opposite result in child two.

Every day feels like a surprise to some extent.

Do you feel the same way? If you had to say what the biggest surprise for you as a parent has been, what would you say? (We’d love to hear).

In the next post, we’ll begin to share some of the principles we’ve discovered as parents that have helped us navigate the unknown and deal with the constant surprise of parenting. And as you share yours, we’ll start a dialogue that will help us all grow as parents and people.