Emotionally exhausted. This is how I was beginning to feel on a regular basis. Everything my kids did that wasn’t “perfect” got on my nerves. If they argued with each other, I yelled. If they didn’t listen to me the first time I asked, I yelled. If they had a complaint about dinner, I got annoyed . . . and yelled. Why was I reacting this way? When did parenting become such an burden for me? Why couldn’t I enjoy my job as a mother, and see the beauty in raising a family?When did parenting become such a burden?

It was something I thought about regularly, because I knew that the way I was feeling was not the kind of parent I wanted to be. I wanted to rediscover the enjoyment in parenting, but I needed to dig deep to figure out how to find it again.

One night during bedtime, as I was putting my 6-year-old to sleep, I began having the same agitated feeling. She kept asking questions, not listening, squirming—basically, being a normal 6-year-old. I hated the way I was feeling, and decided to play a little mind game with myself.

I took a deep breath and told myself, “She’s not mine. She is someone else’s child.” Yes, as awful as it sounds, I pretended that I was babysitting. I felt a little guilty, but also like I had no other choice to maintaining my composure.

What happened next was truly amazing. It really felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All of the tension and impatience slowly melted away. It didn’t bother me anymore that she was talking, interrupting, jumping; she was a child I was taking care of for someone else. I didn’t take it so seriously anymore. She made me laugh! She was funny, saying such smart things. I was able to enjoy her. I felt responsible for her, but I didn’t feel burdened. She suddenly became her own person with her own personality. It was a rush of pure joy.

I went to bed that night and thought more deeply about what had happened. I knew I couldn’t spend every day pretending I was babysitting someone else’s children. It just wasn’t true. Yet if it wasn’t true, then why did it feel so right? Instinctually, I knew that I was on to something. After some deep thinking, I realized that in fact I wasn’t lying to myself at all. My newfound perspective was very true!

My children do not “belong” to me. In reality, they belong to the Creator of the world. I was entrusted to care for them, love them, teach them, keep them safe. My children are in actuality G‑d’s children. Wow! What a huge responsibility! What a huge gift! Suddenly, parenting became the most special job in the world. I am responsible for something precious and unique and wonderful. And when I let go of the worrying and the judgment, I had room to parent out of love and respect. In the end, I felt a deeper love than before.

I have come to understand that I had been putting all of myI actually believed their behavior was a reflection of me own anxieties and personal expectations onto my kids. I actually believed that their behavior was a reflection of me. If they did something wrong, it was because I was doing something wrong. I lost what’s called “my job description.” It isn’t as though I don’t feel a responsibility. I do—and in a way, even more now.

But my perspective has changed. It isn’t my job to change them. It isn’t my job to make them perfect. I constantly remind myself to love them for who they are and not who I want them to be.

So now, when I play the “babysitting” game in my mind, I try to remind myself that it’s not a game, after all. It’s the truth. Over time, with hard work, I hope to make my change in perspective more than just a perspective, but rather my everyday reality.