I was watching a certain dancing show on tv the other day (not proud. guilty pleasure.) and when one of the contestants was asked about his scores his answer was so simple.
“Dancing is hard,” he said.
I loved that moment because it was someone just admitting the truth, for once. It was someone not making excuses about not having enough time or never having done this before. It wasn’t about false hopes of we’ll-get-em-next-time or blame shifting and declaring that the judges were wrong. It was an admission of something that seems so simple and yet we don’t do often enough.
So I’m here to declare it straight up and with no excuses.
Parenting is hard.
It just is. And of course it’s wonderful and rewarding and all of those good things. But also, it’s just really hard!
It’s hard because there are approximately 6 billion variables to any given child and we’re never quite certain which ones our children will possess.
It’s hard because we don’t know exactly what things they’ll be born with or all of the intricacies they’ll have when we first get to welcome them into our home.
It’s hard because there’s no one way to do it, to maneuver, to set the game play and then follow through. In fact, there are a bajillion possible sets of outlying rules to the game and we just need to make it up as we go, see what works and what doesn’t and then reevaluate and adjust for every day, every age, every circumstance and, of course, every child.
It’s hard because we’re parenting humans! Like actual living, breathing, decision-making and opinionated beings. It would be so much easier should they be a fish or a lamp. But instead they have these intricate bodies that we have to figure out and they have allergies and emotions and skills and weaknesses all of which we need to interpret and account for. And they have minds! Scheming, illogical, overthinking, irrational minds! Minds that can work things out, or not, depending on which child we’re dealing with at any given time. Minds that have anxieties and fears. Minds that absorb quickly or need to be shown slowly. Minds that do better with lots of words or little bits of words or visuals or interpretive dance. We just don’t know until they’re in front of us, staring with their beady little eyes!
And it’s hard. Figuring all of that out is just hard.
It’s hard because they have hearts. Hearts that will love things that we don’t understand why they love and yet we need to act interested and try and love them too so that we can engage in conversation even though we don’t really want to! We’ll never know why they love Caillou or Pokemon or snakes or only the colour pink. We’ll never really get why they love one cup more than another or why they don’t love sleep and that’s just hard!
And then because they have hearts that love they also have hearts that will break and there will be tears and our hearts will break along with them because there’s this sobbing and we’ll just sit there together, with our child curled up in our lap, their snot getting all over our shoulder and we won’t have a clue what to do to make their heart not hurt but we will try ALL OF THE THINGS in hopes that one will console! Of course, we won’t know which one to try first and the process could be so, so long and that’s just so hard.
Sometimes they’ll think we’re really mean even though we’re just trying to do what’s best for them and they’ll slam the door and be so angry at us and not want to talk with us and that just super sucks.
And sometimes things will change and that thing we promised won’t happen and they’ll be so disappointed in us and they won’t say it but the look in their eyes shows us the truth of the matter and that is that they trusted us so fully and now they just don’t and we’re the one who just broke their heart and they try to understand and may even say they understand but we know that a little piece of them just crumbled a bit and that is super freaking hard.
And sometimes we have to say no even though all of their friends are going.
And sometimes we have to explain not this time because there isn’t enough money.
And sometimes they’ve broken the rules for the hundredth time and we’ve had enough and we yell because it’s just so hard.
It is hard, you guys. It just is!
I don’t know why we have this illusion that it might not be because these are little lives that we’re shaping, little minds that we’re training, little humans that we long to disciple so that one day they can be socially adjusted contributing members of society. That’s a lot of responsibility on a parent.
So I want you to know that I get that it’s hard and I get that you’re frustrated and I understand your sleep depravity and I know all about the tears that flow and I get that you didn’t mean to yell and I know that you hate to be the bad guy.
I also know that good things are rarely easy. If it’s hard, I think it means you’re doing it right. If it’s hard, I applaud you for working at it and trying again and reading all of the articles and seeking counsel from experts and doing everything that makes it so hard for the sake of the love that you have for your littles and mediums and bigs.
It’s hard. You’re doing something right. Well done.