Having been a parent now, somewhat successfully I suppose, for the last 13 or so years I can tell you a few things with every bit of certainty I own. I can tell you these things but I don’t always tell you…not because they are some great secret, there is no cruel withholding of information on my part. Some things I do not say to parents or people who wish to become parents because to say it IS cruel in my estimation.
One of the things I will not say to you when you are in the midst of struggle is “oh, really? well…JUST WAIT!” Well, I won’t say it in the normal negative vernacular, that is.
I might think it. I confess, I will probably think it as we’re talking but I won’t say it.
I’m always grieved to hear other people say this to new parents especially. Recently I witnessed a conversation between a couple of new mothers in which one mother was lamenting the number of times her sleep was interrupted the night before and the friend added in, “well, yeah…wait til he starts TEETHING…then it’s gets worse!”
And my heart died a little. Is this what we do? Do we really need to offer up MORE lamentation?? I know it’s my judgement. I know it. I’m sorry. I’m judgmental about this and I’m working on it, I promise. It won’t stop me from explaining exactly why this practice kills me though, so…rant resuming here…
Good grief it’s freakin hard to be a human.
I’d say “it’s hard to be a parent” but seriously, it’s not just hard to BE a parent…it’s hard to become a parent. It’s not just hard to BE a spouse, it’s hard to become a spouse, it’s hard to become a wise and loving person…all these things. Nothing is easy. Love is required in the “becoming” at all stages and love is hard. It JUST is.
All we have to offer each other every single day is the chance at sharing the good, sharing the love, sharing the encouragement. This is why when I hear parents of all stripes tear down another, even in the guise of commiseration, collaborating on their lamentation, it kills my heart a little. It kills ALL of our hearts a little.
All of us, parents or not, need to engage in the life of the builder. We all must choose to put on the hard hats every single day and go out into the world with the aim of building up the folks we meet. To say, “oh, JUST WAIT…it gets worse” has so little worth in today’s world. Not many of us have an expectation otherwise, to be honest. We NEED to hear from people that there is sweetness ahead, not as a bandaid on a broken leg, that’s not my intention. We don’t need to be pollyannas to one another. I’m not advocating that we tell each other lies in order to get them along the road.
What I’m asking is for you to be the person on the side of the road as the marathon runners come past you…giving words of encouragement, drinks of water, wide, patient, loving smiles, medical assistance as it’s required and as you’re gifted. How would you feel if you were that runner, coming ’round the bend and hearing someone yell, “JUST WAIT! It gets worse! There’s a HUGE HILL up ahead!”
You’re a marathon runner, you know the route is hard, you know that you can never train well enough to take the whole thing in stride. It’s hard work, you knew that when you signed up. We want people on the road whose voice will spur us forward toward the finish, even as we know the mark is far from us.
So, what I’ll tell you if you’re a parent is this…yes, it does get harder, of course it does…and it’s gets sweeter too…and he will start teething and you may struggle more and yet in the midst of it when that first tooth pokes out you will cry at the wonder of it all…and I hope you will, in that moment take some time to breathe that…this new thing, this new piece of the great, immeasurable joy that comes with parenting, with living, with being in love, with becoming more and better and stronger and wiser a human…just wait…and watch and learn and breathe…just wait, there is so much more good ahead.