Sunday, November 25, 2012

Parenting: the dream and the reality


There are days when my children seem to feed on my despair.  Like the warning that animals can sense your fear and prey on it, they sneak up behind me unawares and push all the right buttons until I snap.  You would think they'd see it coming; what other response could they have expected?  And yet, they rant and wail and scream with me, and no one is chastened.

Every day, I wake up determined to do it better, to BE better, until the sound of feet pattering into the room at 6:30am on a Saturday precedes the jump on the bed and the elbow to the stomach and the unrelenting demands food, TV, or attention and I groan yet again, hopeless that I will find adequate rest again before they leave for college.

And I know I should be grateful.  And I know they are incredible blessings.  And I realize that many are wishing for such mundane "problems" as a child who simply needs them.  They are truly beautiful, brilliant, endearing, kind ones that without a doubt have my very heart.  They are my very life, in all its complicated chaos, in all the mystery and struggle and messy perfection.  I would give my very life for them in a second...and yet it's the daily and prolonged loss of my own life, who I was, who I wish to be, who I fail to be, that is at the very heart of my frequent despair.

John and I have been on a bit of a "Les Miserables" kick, anticipating the new movie's release on Christmas. So to keep ourselves sane during these trying times of difficult child phases, we sing the song "I dreamed a dream" with the line, "I had a dream my life would be, so different from this hell I'm living."  And we sing it in jest, knowing that the momentary struggles (although they seem insurmountable in the moment), are just that...temporary, passing.

Our life together, even in these times, is such a gift.  Although I joke with John when he's pressing my buttons, "This is not the way I imagined married life would be," the true side of that is that it is so much better than I could have imagined.  Even when he sends me this truth:

Real life is not a gorgeous Pinterest board or a parenting magazine with all the easy answers.  It's a stumbling day by day journey of many mistakes with just enough light and success thrown in to keep you moving forward.  It is not a competition, as we often make it out to be, and the only thing we stand to "win" is the realization that we are enough, and that with God's help we will make it through.

I'm grateful for many who journey with me on the road, those friends and supporters who are real and vulnerable enough to admit that they don't have all the answers either, but are willing to seek them out with me, one long day at a time.

Inspiration for this week:

Katie Orr's Why I need the neediness of my kids at Inspired to Action

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