Isaiah and Laila are in the preschool stage. This is the one I feel the most equipped to handle. Yes, it is exhausting, but the issues that arise are fairly cut and dry. I have a lot of control with this age, and that comforts me. It also helps that I REALLY love this stage and will truly mourn when I no longer have a child in this phase. I would describe this phase as physically exhausting.
Abby and Sam are in the elementary stage. I was a elementary children's pastor and I taught 2 grade for 2 years, so I have some experience with this area. The issues start to become more out of my control. These issues are more spiritual, mental, relational, and emotional. I can't always rescue my kids from the problems they face. I have to let go and allow them to experience more consequences. That is SO HARD for me to do. Not because I want to rescue them, but because I KNOW they are making a mistake. I also know that I am going to then have to deal with the fallout. It would be so much easier to just tell them "no" and not have to deal with it, but in the long run, this does not truly benefit them. I would describe this face as mentally exhausting.
Cody and Lauren are entering the teenage stage. Even though Rick and I worked in youth ministry for over 5 years, I feel the least equipped to deal with this stage. There is so much about it that scares me. I want so desperately to have deep relationships with my kids. I feel like I am walking on eggshells to maintain them. There is such a balancing act between being the parent and enjoying them. I know I can't be their best friend. I don't want to be their best friend. I want them to be able to express themselves, but it is so hard when they don't see my efforts and strengths and only see my weaknesses. There is such a balancing act to maintain. Sometimes they need tough consequences, and other times they need grace. Oh, boy, grace is something I struggle with as a black and white/justice kind of person. I would describe this phase as emotionally and spiritually exhausting.
In all of this, I know that God is ultimately in control. He brings certain circumstances into our lives to shape us into the people he has called us to be. I would not be who I am without some of my struggles growing up. Even though I hate to look back on some of them, they have formed me to have compassion and a desire to serve and value others. Changing these circumstances for my kids would interfere with God's work in their lives. So, I pray each day He gives me the wisdom to handle each circumstance, the strength to stay strong when I am exhausted, and the peace to trust God with the outcome.