just wait…

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.
amen.

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8 thoughts on “just wait…

  1. thanks angela. this has been my experience too. thanks for taking time to think it through and articulate it with kindness.

    r.

  2. This is a wonderful post Ang. I too believe that we parents make it hard for others to embrace parenthood as we wrap things in negativity….Warning of the crazy things around the bend.

    However, having been on that marathon route as a runner and in the midst of parenting 5 children ….sometimes….hearing what lies ahead helps to prepare, giving me the ability to embrace in the best possible way the challenge that lies ahead.

    On the marathon course when my friend Pat and I were told there were no more water stations ahead….we grabbed an extra water bottle to share. It was bleak news…we could have given up but we chose to conserve water…Taking sips instead of gulps….making a small water bottle last between two of us until we finished the race many miles later. Because we knew that there were no resources ahead we had the ability to choose to change our finishing strategy. When a woman waiting for a bus offered us an orange we took it….earlier in the course we would not have done that….Honestly, I think would rather hear about the hill up ahead….Than to get there and be feeling like how come no one told me about this…..Knowing about the hill would would help me conquor the hill. I could make a plan and feel good about the hill. Really…That doesn’t mean the hill would be easier but perhaps better resourced mentally….easier to embrace .

    I feel the same way about parenting. Oh everyone laughed as we had twins approaching the terrible twos….but Andrew and I decided there would be no terrible twos at our house! We embraced the Terrific Twos with all five of our children. We read about all the crazy things that happen with two year olds and how to combat them. We tried as much as possible to enjoy the energy and exuberance of a child at two. The wonder and delight of this age rather then commit to living 10 years of our life dwelling on how awful this stage was. Knowing that it is a difficult time for both a parent and child gave us the ability to plan our strategy .

    I will forever cherish the words a seasoned mom gave me when the boys were just a few weeks old….”enjoy this time it will be gone before you know it” I truly thought that she was crazy! We do need to tell people about the sweetness ahead….but we probably need to help one another embrace the what is sweet about the present as well.

    As a parent of almost 14 years I feel i should help resource those upcomig hills….and I pray that there are those in my journey that will lovingly resource me. That we can acknowledge that challenges are ahead offering options, resources, shoulders to cry on…. and then celebrate together new milesstones reached.

    As I write here, there is a blog post stirring in me.

    I have always love that you challenge and encourage in your writing. Thanks again for both dear friend.

  3. When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember that everyone wanted to share their labor horror stories and give their two cents on how you should give birth. I got so sick of it that I vowed I would not do that to anymore expectant mothers. I like to share the funny moments about the delivery and the feeling I had when I first saw my babies–but not all the horror stories I have ever heard of other women giving birth. I never offer any advice unless I am specifically asked for it. I try not to do the “just wait until” thing either, because I have had four babies and each one has gone through each phase differently.
    All to say, I agree that we should focus our words on building each other up. Mothers, especially, need someone to say, “Yes, it’s hard, but it’s also beautiful. You ARE strong enough. You CAN do this.”

  4. I wholeheartedly agree that we say things that undermine other parents hopes as we react to the oneupmanship aspect of conversing about struggles. This is a great response to that. Beautifully said.

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