Before I became a parent, I was very interested in cribs, baby bathtubs, tiny clothes, and shoes. I agonized over picking the right pediatrician. I worried that my child would be sick and I wouldn’t notice. (That actually brings a chuckle now since every mother knows that you more often think they are sick when they are fine than the reverse.)

I focused a lot on names (probably appropriate) and cloth vs disposable diapers (less important than it seems at first). We philosophized about parenting methods but had to use almost none of them on our perfect-at-the-time oldest child. Could I handle sleep deprivation? Would my husband and I still find time together? (The answer is “Not at first, but it will smooth out once we all calm down and grow up a little.)

I now know that I was worried about all the wrong things. These were all temporary things. These were stages of parenting that pass in the blink of an eye. 5 kids into my parenting journey, I promise you, that’s the easy stuff.

What I really needed (then and now) is perseverance. The first 80 times I said, “Close the door please,” I said it nicely. The first child to write on my bedroom carpet with orange markers got off with a scolding. The fifth child to do it got an undeserved load of yelling and very nearly got her hide tanned. It is not easy to persevere. It is not easy to always parent everyone with as much faith and grace as the first. Loving them is easy. Showing it can be harder, at times.

What helps is support. Truly, that’s the answer for me. I have the support of Dear Hubby but also two very close gal friends with some challenges of their own. It is helpful to admit, “I yelled at Tink today for doing what all who’ve gone before her have done. I’m not proud of it.” And after reassuring me that I’m only human, they also remind me I need to apologize.

“Per” means “through” and “severe” speaks for itself. We must persevere in the challenges of parenting our “special case” kids because, quite honestly, they are here to teach us just that, perseverance, and maybe a dose of humility. Our sibling groups are our own private tutors in which areas of our personality we need to refine. Coming through the tough times is what grows us as humans. And what our kids need most is us, in our full humanity.

Hang in there. You’re doing fine.