Grace for it all

Originally Appeared in : 9803-2/1/18

“If you think having toddlers is hard, wait until you have teenagers.”


I will always remember the day my friend uttered these words. I think we were standing outside in a large, open backyard where I had managed to be still just long enough for that exchange. And then it was off to chase another small boy who had scaled another tall object.


If this motherhood gig only gets harder, I remember thinking, shoot me now.


It wasn’t a very heroic sentiment, but there you go. I was barely surviving motherhood, at least on that day, and what I didn’t need to hear was this was the easy part. Sleepless nights, unpredictable personalities, people coming and going in every direction and me and Paul in charge of it all. I was exhausted!


But I made it through. Paul and I made it through. And there was grace for it. There was grace in each moment — but only in the moment. There was never grace for tomorrow’s issues until tomorrow, but even in the hardest circumstances, we always had what we needed to get the job done.


That doesn’t mean it was always pretty. On particularly challenging days, in the toughest circumstances, I worked in three minute increments. “I can do anything for three minutes,” I would tell myself as I buckled a screaming baby into a carseat just before chasing down a screaming toddler. One day I remember backing our station wagon out of the driveway and having to stop because everyone in the car was crying, myself included.


But we made it, and the grace was there. That season was hard, but also beautiful and sweet and wonderful (and also hard).


And here I am, the mother of teenagers and the grace is here. I can’t tell you that it’s a walk in the park (but man, toddlers and newborns are still the most challenging of them all). But there’s grace here. There is grace for all the highs and lows that parenting teenagers brings. 


Honestly, my years of parenting toddlers has totally prepared me for parenting teens. There are sleepless nights, unpredictable personalities, people coming and going in every direction and me and Paul in charge of it all. I am exhausted!


But there is grace. And it is fun. 


At the heart of every parenting season, from small babies to grown adults, is remembering that motherhood is a vocation. Motherhood, for me, is part of my sanctification, the thing God is using to help me grow in holiness. So when I face each interaction, every stress and victory, through the lens of knowing God is with me, that gives me strength. 


Fear creeps in when we overshoot our headlights. I’m tempted to think that the grace I have in this moment right now is all the grace I will ever have. If I’m currently operating on every ounce of grace God is giving, what will I do an hour from now? What about next year? And 10 years from that?


Relax. Calm down. Live in this moment. Change this diaper. Read this book. Drive this carpool. Wash this load of uniforms.


It’s amazing to me all the things God can keep on his radar. All of these details that we worry about, the things we have to juggle and get through — these and a million other things are worth God’s time. He cares about it all. He wants to help us through it.


The other night we were leaving a basketball game and I overheard one of Elliott’s friends invite another friend over to our house. “We’re all hanging out, come on over!”


It made me laugh, and I was also struck how in this season right now, there is grace to host seven college freshmen in my front room on a Tuesday night. How crazy is that? 


The me who was standing in that backyard freaking out about life with teens would be amazed at how awesome life with teenagers can be.


Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at

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