Sometimes I look at my kids and see beauty. I marvel at the sparkle in their eyes and the sweetness of their smiles. I am overwhelmed by gratitude and joy, awestruck by how amazing they are, and humbled to be entrusted with their wellbeing.
Other times I seriously consider the ramifications of dropping them off at the mall and driving to Miami, never to return. I have lamented the fact that were I to launch myself through a window of my home, none of them are far enough from the ground to cause fatal damage. More times than not, I am flabbergasted by how frustrating parenting can be.
I worry that word will get out that I struggle with Adultitis just like everyone else. That my life is not a Pinterest board come to life. That living in our house is nothing like living in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
I wonder what I’m doing wrong.
I suppose the reason I think I’m doing anything wrong at all is that I live in a society that preaches comfort and convenience. We are an impatient lot, what with the answer to seemingly every problem a click away. To struggle is to sin if you’ve got an easy solution available for just $19.99.
We’ve been sold on the idea that life should be easy, and if it’s not, we’re doing it wrong.
What a crock.
You know what’s easy? Doing what everyone else is doing. Giving up at the first sign of adversity. Abandoning a marriage instead of doing the messy work of making it better. Drinking or eating or flushing our problems away when the consequences of our actions become too hard. Abdicating our parental responsibilities to someone else. Living by rules that don’t exist.
Know what’s hard? Being intentional about every choice you make. Asking tough questions. Saying no to good things so you can say yes to better things, even if that means disappointing people. Staying in the moment with the people you love. Not rushing off to chase the next big thing. Being persistent after the first, second, and seventy-seventh failure. Breaking the rules that don’t exist.
It’s not a bad thing to strive to improve our circumstances in life, but it’s in the struggle where we grow. It’s a sign that we’re alive, actively engaged in our story.
Doing parenting (and life, for that matter) WRONG is as easy as it gets.
Doing it RIGHT just might be the hardest job on the face of the earth.
Taking the easy route is by far the most comfortable. It also leads to a story that really sucks. And the worst part is that you often don’t realize it until the end credits start to roll.
No one’s life is as good as the one they curate on Facebook. No one spends all their free time doing all the cool stuff they see on Pinterest. No one has it all figured out.
But the ones who are living amazing stories are the ones who are brave enough to persist through the struggle. To practice being more patient and intentional and brave and fun and loving, even when they just failed at all five in the last seven minutes.
Be the one who refuses to settle for a safe and easy life. Living a great story is hard as hell.
And worth every bit of the effort.
I needed that article today. I struggle everyday! With twin girls that are almost 4 and a son who is two, at any given moment someone is unhappy. I struggle financially and that stress doesn’t help, but every night I pray to do better than I did today and keep trying. I figure the day I give up is when I’ve really failed and I refuse to give up hope that it will all turn out ok. That’s having faith:).
Hang in there, Angela! And keep hanging out here, too! Jason & Co are positive, real people with encouraging and realistic advice to share. HUGS!!
Dang you’re good!
I have never responded to any of your writings before, but I am extremely compelled today. In the last year I have experienced major depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks, emotional abuse both at work and at home, and through all of it, I am still here. Daily I fight the struggle of raising a Tween who thinks she knows more than I do, including how to drive. By the way, I thought maybe I could sell her, but it turns out I couldn’t even give her away for free. Mostly because she doesn’t do any housework. Oh well, I guess I’ll keep her. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for the extra pep talk. I might just print this out and post it on my fridge!
Becky, if you’re not already, PLEASE talk to a doctor! Health is health–where ever in our body the organ in crisis happens to be. Even if you don’t have insurance, there are resources out there. And raising kids is hard enough when your health is 100%! :-)
Hi Becky! Thanks for being a long time reader, and thanks for speaking out!
I agree with Pat about talking to a doctor, if you haven’t already. And try and surround yourself with people who can support and celebrate you for the awesomeness you bring to the table!
I am honored to have served as a little pep talk — hang in there!
Jason – you say in a few paragraphs so succinctly what others feel that would take volumes to write. Just finishing off of a family holiday when everyone travels from afar. Lives are subconsciously compared to each other’s and how they are all measured by society’s yardstick. I love your reference to Facebook as it is so EASY to start believing that everyone posting has these unbelievable lives they are living and somehow you are left behind. Thank-you for the great reality check for what is truly important at the end of the day- those relationships that you invest in, NOT always easy but we’ll worth the rewards.
After reading this, I was reminded of a quote from Zenit.org. They almost always have a “quote of the day” at the very beginning of the email. And, amazingly enough, I was thinking about this topic as I was driving to work today, and I hadn’t read either email yet! You will notice that the quote doesn’t refer to having things easy, it just helps me deal with whatever comes.
Quote for July 5th
“The Bible never once says ‘Figure it out.’ But over and over it says ‘Trust God.’ He’s already got it all figured out.”
Thank you! I feel so normal now!