So somebody just placed a wet, squirmy newly-born babe in your arms. It’s beautiful. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, actually. It’s perfection, from its exquisitely formed fingers to its nubbin of a nose. Perfection. A vision of the Almighty.
Yes, that newborn might as well be God Himself, in the flesh. He’s come to earth to save your soul from selfishness, pride, impatience, and greed. He’s come to show you just how imperfect you are, until you fall to your knees and cry out for help.
He’s come to make you something bigger, something better.
But here’s what no one tells you.
Here’s what no one tell you it will take.
It will take you, watching that wee babe struggle to tie his shoes until you want to grab the laces and soothe “I’ll do it” for him. It will take you, watching her labor over a homework assignment that you can’t help with because you weren’t there, hanging over her shoulder all day at school so that you know what the teacher wants, until she’s done in the wee hours of the morning. It will take you, throwing your hands up in the air more times than you care to admit and saying “I’m sorry, I don’t have the answers you need.”
It will take ADHD diagnoses, dyslexia tests, fretting about mental issues, and sleepless nights worrying about scores and grades and countless meaningless numbers.
It will take you, letting go when you most want to hold on tight.
It will take you, trusting when you want to snatch back and say NO.
NO, THIS IS NOT OKAY WITH ME.
NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE YOUR WAY HERE, IT’S TOO PAINFUL TO BEAR.
NO, THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR.
It means sometimes your kid tells you that they’re constricted with social anxiety, overwrought with the terror of human interaction, afraid they will never feel at ease in any given situation that other seem to have no problem with.
It means sometimes they don’t leave when everyone else’s kid seems to be moving on, doing the normal thing, and achieving all the societally-approved markers. It means sometimes they need more help than you were sure they would need, just to get from point A to point B.
It means sometimes your kid falls in love with the wrong person, or the right person at the wrong time, and is left holding the bag in a relationship full of empty dreams and long-reneged promises.
It means conversations full of tears and helplessness.
It means committing to be there to the bitter end, when everybody else bails and everything feels hopeless.
It means being the last one standing.
Standing on promises that you stubbornly cling to.
Standing on the tattered remains of what was your certainty when they were placed, wet and squirming, into your arms.
Nobody tells you things will be this hard.
Nobody tells you, but still…they are.
I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.
We are in this together.
It’s not just hard, it’s impossible.
But here we are.
Can we set aside our preconceived ideals, our notions of what good and right and perfect look like? Can we see the perfection in struggle and the beauty in the agony?
Can we love one another through to the other side, where victory awaits? Or if the other side tarries, can we love one another anyway?
I just don’t know. I’ve rarely seen acceptance like that in action. Far too often, I see parents rejoicing in other parents’ perceived failures because it makes them feel better about their own job. Or parents distancing themselves from other parents who are hurting, as though the pains of one family are contagious. But I believe it is possible.
There are things nobody ever tells you, on the day that newborn is placed in your arms. Are you there, in that hard place now?
You are not alone.
I am there, too.
Can we remove the falsehood and just be real? This shit is hard, folks. I’m here to testify.
Can I get an amen?