It seems it is gaining in popularity these days to complain about how hard it is to have kids. And I get it. It is hard. Really hard. Half of my half-written blog posts (because I never have time to finish them with all these kids) are about how hard it is. But I am kind of getting tired of yet another big lament that describes the borderline abusive “real thoughts” of the struggling parent – it is really starting to get to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for honesty and, if you know me well, I am not one to be peachy-keen all the time about life. I can complain with the best of them and I think it is important to have the ability to vent when we need to. But you see, that’s something I don’t always want to do. In fact, I think the harder thing is to feel the freedom to share our gratitude or a word of praise about our kids. It would be bragging right? Or at least that is my fear, so I don’t go there often enough – it’s always a little easier, for me at least, to connect over complaints. But how refreshing would it be to speak about the other million moments in the day that aren’t so hard? That are in fact so beautiful and meaningful that they truly take your breath away. The moments that keep us going and remind us why we took on this crazy endeavor to care for and raise completely dependent, irrational, unpredictable human beings. The moments where we well-up with tears of joy that do not in fact have to be downplayed by postpartum hormones. Just pure full-hearted love. I think I could use some of that to keep me going on this parenting journey as well.
My husband’s family has a way of getting together and telling all the good stories from when everyone was a kid. I was struck by this when we were first dating because it was a unique phenomenon to me. There’s the polyester suit story when he was 3. The “I know” story when he was playing piano with his aunt. The famous football game against Central. All good stories told with love and pride and delighting in who he was then that led to who he is now. I love these stories. Even though I have heard them a few dozen times myself, it is how they are told that gets to me. My husband was loved, still is, and these stories leave no doubt.
Couldn’t we all use a few more of our good stories floating around? Wouldn’t that be a neat way for our kids to be known? It would be kind of like turning the sun like a flashlight on them, just to shine some sweet warmth in their direction for the world to partake. How neat to be so brave as to say there are things we adore about them, whether they were there to hear it or not, and not just find fault or complain. Would it be so bad to speak more often to the gratitude we have for the precious gift of their lives and the unique ways God has made them to be in this world? I think it could be pretty sweet – good for them and a perspective shift for me.
A friend and mentor of mine, Cheryle, was talking about her son once and referring to him as “my Austin. I can’t believe my Austin is going off to college.” She has 5 kids and I was so struck by how adoring she sounded of her middle son that I tentatively had to ask “oh..is he your…favorite?”
“Oh, no, of-course-not!” she said with a laugh “But he is such a neat kid…” and she went on to unabashedly tell me more about what made him special and why she was going to miss him. I just loved that. I basked in the glow of her love for him, for all of her kids over the course of our friendship, and it has absolutely influenced the way I parent my own.
I get that parenting it hard. Let’s be honest about that for sure. I am just wondering if there is room, safety, and enough grace to speak to the good parts too, more often? I know I personally need to do a better job of taking notice some days and would love to feel the freedom to speak to it, as a form of discipline almost, in the day-to-day chit chat with friends. I am not calling for a shallow brag-fest, or the social media shout out, but a deep-hearted, soul-baring gratitude between friends that, while inherently acknowledging how difficult it is, admits there is also something to be said for all that is so very good.