Yesterday, my wife shared a post with her personal network about the challenges that she identifies with as a young mother and working professional. In it, the article delves into the many aspects by which a mother, which I will expand here to be any parent, experiences guilt over the many economical choices one must make with their time.
As parents we’ve made a clear decision to accept responsibility for the sustenance, formation, education and guidance of one, two, three or more children. There’s an incredible burden there. No one else is going to do it for you. Not without a lot of paperwork and the loss of custody, anyway. They won’t get to where you want them to be by intuition. Every guiding principle requires hours of reinforcement to stick. I’m not even talking about right vs wrong. I’m talking about how to hold a spoon so the peas don’t go sliding off before it can make the 2′ trek from plate to mouth. I’m talking about valuing the discipline required to put the toy down outside and willingly use the toilet.
Even at the ages of 4, 3 and 2 mos old, many of their skills have yet to level up even once. Don’t get me wrong, scores of those skills have exceeded expectations, but the ones that have yet to stick in their minds certainly stick in ours whenever we think about that burden. Whenever we think about that guilt.
The article then discusses what a mother needs, in order to survive this stage. This is the portion of the article I read through with a fine-tooth comb. I want to know what advice my wife receives from strangers. I want to know what time of positive reinforcement she receives from the world; or whether I need to combat what I perceive to be misinformation. I was pleasantly surprised to see the list include topics like personal time, practicing contentment, prayer, open dialogue with one’s mother. But the last piece was by far and away I was hoping I was going to see:
“….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween and the Fourth of July through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.” – http://austin.citymomsblog.com/2016/04/20/stage-life-hard/
Perspective on difficulty is the most critical ingredient in prevailing against it. Because what we are talking about here is growth. To a person, there is not a parent I know, dedicated to the daily betterment of their family, that doesn’t consider themselves exponentially better for having children. Moments of weakness exist for all of us, there is no getting around that. But possessing guilt over that fact speaks more to the nature of our fallen humanity than to our individual shortcomings. Eclipsing the pain of growth and understanding its full effect on our ability to navigate more precisely our future sets our compass by the stars. On cloudy days we’ll lose site of our heading against our compass, but that too shall pass. Charting our course by the successes, and pitfalls, of our parents, friends and loved ones allows for the compass to reveal itself in proper time. Building our foundation on the bedrock of balance; between work and home, marriage and children, work and play assures us we will not go too far astray between the moments of clarity – when we can see the night sky and be reminded there is always the next day to correct for any variance. Sharing articles, feelings, dreams and goals between lovers, friends and family provides the support to others when they might not be able to chart their course by the stars at the moment. In time, they too will provide us our own corrections.
Because there is not a thing I have that I value that I did not gain through trial. Some things I gained I lost because I did not value them properly at the time. It only made it the sweeter to get back in touch with those elusive goals. Harmony is found in balance, through difficulty – because of trials successfully endured. Especially if it comes at the cost of great energy. Between that perspective, our family and loved ones – if we keep it all as close to our clutches as we possibly can – we’ll have all we’ll ever need to find happiness – one difficult stage of life at a time.
Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,