Parenting is intense. I know most people use the word ‘hard’, but I think that’s incorrect. Parenting’s pretty simple. Treat your children as you’d like to be treated, and when you don’t, apologize. Pretty simple.
But the intensity of the emotions involved can knock a person to their knees and leave them pleading. For what exactly, I’m not even sure most of the time. Pleading that we’re not screwing things up royally. Pleading that our children turn out more whole and confidant than we did. Pleading that we get it right more often than we get it wrong. Pleading. Pleading. Pleading.
No, it’s not hard. But so many times we’ve been taught that what we want isn’t good enough. Or what we feel is wrong. That the world is scary. Those thoughts and emotions, that pain, that fear rears up and makes even the easiest job in the world, loving a sweet innocent child that adores every tiny detail about you, impossible.
I’ve made so many mistakes in life. So very many mistakes with my children. But no matter how many times I’ve yelled, or threatened or scared them. They still come back, wrap their arms around me and tell me how much I mean to them and how deeply they love me, and they pucker those sweet little lips and kiss me. Then giggle while they hug me and climb into my lap and let me know that their entire world revolves around me and that as long as I’m here they’re happy.
How humbling is that? You are the number one most important person in at least one person’s life. The moon and the sun rise and set on you. The stars shine brighter because you exist to show them to your child.
Yet, often parents take that love and grind it down until our children no longer care about the stars. Until the sun is the enemy, until they no longer wrap their arms around us. We take our whole, loving, forgiving children and teach them that the world is bad, that we aren’t going to protect them from it.
I’ve come so close to that so many times, but always I’ve remembered just in time to change my actions, my words, to apologize. To show my children how much they mean to me. I never want to get any closer than I’ve been. I want to make the distinction between us, our home, our family, and the rest of the world much more definite and clearer. I want our children to know we’re here for them always.
Today I also realized I need to change my thoughts. I need to spend as much time thinking about how wonderful they are as they think about how wonderful I am. And just as importantly, I need to believe them.
Oh certainly, I need to believe them that I am amazing and important. But I also need to believe them that my husband is the most amazing man on the entire planet and that the world is a much better place because he’s here.
That’s the incredible thing about family. We are all interconnected in so many ways. We each revolve around each other, creating intertwining relationships each dependant on other people, and dependant upon the relationships of each other. My relationship with Ryan affects each child differently, and my relationship with any one child affects each of the others. And those relationships affect the relationships of others. Spinning, twisting, entwining, creating the most amazing work of art ever.
Yet often we don’t see the art, only the work. Yes, there is work involved, but it doesn’t need to be hard. In fact it should be enjoyable.
I’ve forgotten recently how enjoyable life can be, but I’m remembering. And I’m changing. Hugging children tighter, and laughing deeper. Spending more time showing them how wonderful life is, and giving them reasons to want to share their life and their love with me.
When parenting is as easy in practice as it should be, then partnering with another adult is also easier. Each relationship intertwined with all the others. As love flows freely through one pair, it can flow freely through all.
Last night and today we spent time together looking at old pictures and videos of our children. Remembering the intensity of those days, and seeing so clearly the wonder and fun we shared. Today we were better able to see that joy in the moment. Instead of waiting five years to appreciate this moment, we enjoyed it today.