Before we had children, a friend once told us that, “Kids simultaneously ruin your life and make it awesome.”

Now, as the parents of a one-year-old and a three-year-old, we ruefully refer to this comment on a regular basis. It’s the truth of our story right now.

We love our kids.
We love our life.
And we are exhausted.

Every day, every hour, every minute, the highs are high and the lows bottom out.

One second, they are wrestling, bear hugging and giggling. Then we attempt lunch and the underweight 3-year-old refuses to take a single bite while the hangry 18-month-old is so worked up he hurls everything off his tray—and then howls to get it back. And as I pull out the broom for the 17th time, I try not to think how many more days, pre-loaded with three meals each, will roll around before this phase is over.

We’re so deep in this story it’s nearly impossible to step outside it for a moment of perspective.

Each day someone reminds me that my boys will be graduating high school before I can blink. I know it.

But that’s not what I need to hear right now.

I need other moms of littles who can tell me, in 30-second snippets of conversation between “don’t lick your shoe!” and “get down from there!” that this is really hard, and they’re just making it up as they go, too.

I need moms of grown kids who acknowledge that their years with preschoolers were rough, but that the work of raising tiny adults truly does pay off.

I need friends without kids who remind me that while “mama” is my most demanding role right now, it’s not my only role. There will be seasons when I can say “yes” more frequently to those other parts of who God has made me to be.

As a storyteller, I know that the best stories, the most satisfying moments, come only through the greatest conflict. Things need to be wrecked before they can be rebuilt. The greater the obstacles we navigate in these preschool years, the better and stronger our family’s story becomes.

When I write a story, I control the actions of my characters.
When it comes to parenting, I have approximately zero control over the responses of my willful, delightful, infuriating co-players.

I can (and do) sort through countless podcasts and blogs and books and advice for parenting wisdom. But in the end, my best choice is to lean into the Master Storyteller, over and over, moment by moment, for my kids . . .  and trust that he is in the business of telling the best story with our family.