The sun is shining, birds are singing. A promising new school year starts. Life feels fresh, full of possibilities. Then the road takes a turn and you are forced to confront something that’s been in front of you for a long time. Something that keeps lingering – putting its spin on everything around you.
I love my children deeply. They are all amazing, wonderful, unique individuals. I will also be brutally honest. There are times when the combination of the four of them is just plain annoying. Like when a fight over microwave popcorn becomes World War III and the only thing you can do to salvage your sanity is to separate them and walk into the back yard; regroup and run away for a moment. I’m hoping I am not the only one who’s had these parenting moments.
Sometimes our kids’ fights aren’t really about the popcorn. There are deeper issues surfacing. The popcorn fight just happens to bring it all front and center. That’s what happened to me.
Parenting is hard, tiring work that we know (fingers crossed) in the end is also rewarding. At times you are forced to reassess, look beyond the microwave popcorn and find a new strategy. Sometimes when something is hurting one child, it trickles down to the rest of the family. So helping that one child actually helps the whole family unit.
That’s where I stand – at another fork in the road. Forced again into the realization that this is never going to be easy. Parenting strategies are sometimes symbolic for many things in life. New things happen. Circumstances change and you are forced to find a new path. Life isn’t always an episode of the Brady Bunch where problems are solved in 30 minutes. It’s real life. It can be messy, complicated and full of joy all at the same time.
Parenting a hurting child is hard. It’s about adapting and looking for new strategies to help. It’s about finding the right support system. Most of all, it’s about walking the road with them. Sometimes walking beside them is like carrying them. As they approach adulthood they don’t want to be babied. Sometimes the hardest thing for them to admit is that they need our help. Maybe the most reassuring thing we can do is just walk beside them on their long journey. So they know we are there and they can climb on for a piggy-back ride if they need one…..