I grew up mere minutes from sand dunes near Lake Michigan. I have some fond memories of climbing sandy hills and sliding down the other side. I also have some not-so-fond memories of having sand embedded in my clothing, but that's not what I'm writing about today.
When you climb a sand dune it is a rigorous process. For every step you take you slide back a half step. It can feel distinctly like you aren't making any progress at all. Your leg muscles burn and your breath fails you and you gaze toward the top of the hill with the sun in your eyes thinking--"I'll never make it."
Not really that much different than parenting is it? Some days you feel like no progress has been made.
You tell the eight year old that only HE can choose to have a good attitude--only to hear him huff under his breath.
You remind the six year old that obeying mom is what he must do first--only to have him once again debate what you have asked him to do.
You remove the almost two year old from a no-no spot for the millionth time--only to have him happily return.
You can't accomplish any laundry because the baby is mysteriously fussy, and nothing will calm him, but being held CONSTANTLY by you and you alone.
Your heart aches and your patience fails you as you look up and think--"I'll never make it."
But wait--there is a strategy to climbing sand dunes that also applies to parenting. You need to look back to see how far you have come. You can see your straggling footprints trailing up the sandy hill, and suddenly you have courage. "I've come this far--I can keep going."