This one goes out to all you moms who lay awake at night feeling...unsettled. You lay there perfectly poised for sleep; pillow neatly positioned; chin deep in blankets and fluffy comfort, but sleep plays hard to get. You're agitated and restless, distracted by the nature of the season you're in: parenting.
Here’s the thing about parenting: every darn day we work our hineys off, but there it still hangs, loose as ever...but that’s NOT the issue I’m here to discuss today. I just couldn’t resist saying what we’re all thinking about our post-kid hineys. Back to the real issue! Day after day we work unceasingly to love, shape and teach our tiny, mid-sized or large beautiful heaps of possibility (our children), but where is the proof that it’s sticking?? Where is the assurance that any of it is sinking in??
In truth we have no guarantees about how this whole thing is going to shake out. Parenting is one LONG walk of faith. We trust for what we may not be able to see (for a very long time) and hope for what we know is possible. We’re like deep space adventurers sending our best knowledge, our purest love, our dearest values, with our best efforts into a vast unknown. Day after day we scan those little faces, eagerly searching for a beacon of acknowledgement, a glimmer of understanding.
OK...here’s where all the obscure space analogies are coming from: it’s my third daughter (Sofia), she’s got me all riled up! She’s an amazing 5 year old and I love her. Her zeal and passion for all things (positively and negatively), it’s both beautiful and messy! In some ways I wish I were as uninhibited as she is in her approach to life...but in the same breath she makes me INSANE!
She’s bold and sooo willful. I know that someday, all her wonderful leadership qualities will work to her advantage, but in the meantime, what I’m dealing with is this: I say, “right”, she goes left. I say, “fast”, she slows her body down to a snail’s speed. A couple days ago she even said, “No-kay” to me. What the heck!? Where did she learn that?? My 10 year old doesn’t even say that!! I feel sometimes like these rough edges are just ingrained in the very fibers of her being. Maybe she has a little too much of her mama in her...I don’t know, either way I’m crazed!
All us mamas have been there; dancing along, peacefully parenting our conformists while simultaneously having to wrestle and struggling with our little anarchists. Nearly every family has a little of each...and if you don’t have any struggles, if you only have sweet little conformists, God bless you, but please keep it to yourself. I’m fragile!
Every now and then I feel it in my bones; I just know I’m on the cliffs of breakthrough with my Sofia. I see her struggling to harness her BIG attitude and all her desire to buck any resemblance of conformity. She’s an incredible little person, brimming with possibility. Daily she sits on the verge of shedding her little cave-lady ways. But even with all her raw wildness, she’s amazing, but the parenting struggle is real!
Within those beautiful glimpses of breakthrough, I see a glimmer of understanding and recognition and I begin to get a sense that all this hard mama work is paying off. It’s like a momentary peek into heaven. I can tell that she feels loved, that she feels valued and that she’s beginning to see the bigger picture. Then her little mouth produces something so pure and wise and true and in that moment I breath a temporary sigh of relief and think to myself, “Oh thank you God, we might just make it through this.”
But there have been and there still continues to be nights where I lay in my bed panicking, begging, pleading and considering if bribing God, might work to ensure my little sweeties (sometimes lunatics) grow to be wise, kind, compassionate, tenacious, brave, spiritual, human beings.
The other day as I was mulling over my parenting woes on the elliptical (at the gym), with “No-Kay!” ringing in my ears. I suddenly had a workout epiphany. Exercise always seems to shake loose my deeper thought. I could see that all my parenting frustrations had grown to the point where I was beginning to lose sight of the fact that parenting is a journey. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s day after day, one foot in front of the other. I’m the one who needs to be brave and kind, tenacious, wise, compassionate, and spiritual, cuz those are the qualities I want to impart to my babies. I can’t just pray them into existence and then (poof!) they materialize, I need to have them too!
Here's where it all begins for me: I must refuse to give space to the accusing, fear riddled voice inside me that believes the worst outcome is possible for my kids. I must refuse to compare myself OR my family to others, cuz we’re all on our own paths with different issues, different personalities and different circumstances. Comparison almost always equals unhappiness and when it doesn’t, it equals pride. Both are icky, icky things.
So, I'm going to be a brave mama! let's be brave mamas together! Let’s fix our eyes on the goal; the one we’re praying for, the one we’re hoping for. Let’s not get distracted, because our race isn’t about speed but endurance.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.