Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hidden Treasure

Sometimes, when life is really difficult (like when babies are puking on you, in the middle of the night, multiple times), it is just not fun to be a parent. Frankly, it really stinks. It isn't much more exciting when you have a "heart-to-heart" conversation with your teenage daughter, as you are trying to go to sleep, or when you completely loose it and let your children know what you really (yes, really)  think, loudly; very loudly. 

Parenting is a continual experience of being at the steepest part of the learning curve. Each day is a new day, and no matter how long you've been at it, you've never had kids this old before!

But, in spite of the harsh reality that parenting isn't always (or even mostly) what it looks like in those darling Norman Rockwell paintings, every moment truly is special. People may disagree with me, but having the unique perspective of parenting both older toddlers and teens, I can say with confidence that even the most difficult moments hold hidden treasure, for those who are willing to look. And, I have had some very difficult moments over the last two years.

It is far too easy to take for granted and be distracted by the challenges that go along with parenting; the crying, the tantrums, the messes, the chaos. But, not every story has a happy ending. A friend's daughter died very unexpectedly, from pneumonia, just last week. Instead of planning for their daughter's graduation, her parents are planning a funeral. I'm confident they'd much prefer all the challenges and struggles they faced when she was alive to the brutal finality of laying her in the grave. 

Yes, it is difficult to deal with the challenges of parenting young children. Yes, it is exhausting. Yes, it stretches you beyond what you ever imagined you could be stretched, and lays your weaknesses and inadequacies bare. But, don't disregard, or spurn, the encouragement and perspective of parents who have walked this road longer than you have. They know, from experience, that days are long and hard, but years are far too short.

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