Thursday, April 19, 2012

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Many times when I back away from my blog, it's because I'm drowning in frustration and unable to keep my head above the waters of sanity long enough to find humor in my situation. Yes, I am confessing that I, annoyingly perky girl, fall off the wagon of optimism sometimes, and lately it's been more often than I've been willing to admit to myself.

I wish as children we could possess the foresight to understand the job our parents had (and have for all of their lives) is absolutely, unequivocally the hardest job in the world. It's a lifelong commitment of joy, laughter, snuggles, excruciatingly strong love, stress, chaos, frustration, and the best and worst life can bring out in people, coexisting in a strange hodge podge of time that passes so fleetingly it takes your breath away. For a mother (and I suspect for a father, too), it's an endless cycle of self-doubt, attempts to make the right call, and hugs and kisses to soothe anything from stomach viruses to skinned knees to mornings gone hopelessly awry.

This morning a devoted mother I've never even met but who has touched my life so deeply will bury her seven-year-old son. I've followed her blog for two years now, and her child's name has topped our kids' prayer list every morning. This mother has lived with an unshakable faith in God and in her son, and their story has impacted so many people. Her child's death has really shaken me, and I find myself even more painfully anxious and regretful about my capabilities as a mom. How can I lose my patience with my own seven-year-old so often when this mom doesn't have the luxury of hearing her little man's voice each day? If I had to choose Camden's sass and dramatics over silence, the choice goes without saying. Yet understanding what's really important and finding a way to overlook the daily stresses of life are sometimes mutually exclusive.

My ability to see the big picture is often clouded by the pop-up showers of worry. Am I bringing up little slobs because our house in such a state of disarray? Am I teaching them to disengage from the world because they see me on the computer checking email or Facebook? Am I telling them that what they have to say doesn't matter because I don't have the ability to sit and listen to an endless dissertation on Pokemon? Am I condemning them to a mountain of therapy bills because I'm such a mess myself?

My only hope is that my efforts to show them I love them and appreciate their individual personalities outweigh the times I fall short. It's hard not to worry your commitment to your children gets lost in translation when you're exhausted and overwhelmed. There are four of them looking to me to validate them and build them up as human beings, and sometimes it's just really hard to do when I can't remember the last time my house was clean or when I had more than six hours of sleep.

For all of the parents out there who carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, just know you're not alone. We all endure self-doubt and guilt. My guess is, however, that we also all muster the strength and energy soothe sick babies and hose spaghetti puke out of our vans even when we are too worn down to form coherent thoughts. We hold sick toddlers in our laps while we type or fold clothes. We say "I love you" as much as possible, and we find the courage to apologize when we make mistakes. We reiterate to our kids that our love isn't based upon how often they themselves fall short, either. It's unconditional. Then we try to remind ourselves that the love they feel for us works the same way.

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