Jonah used to ask me all the time, “What’s the hardest part about being a parent?”
I love that question, especially when it’s from your (then) 12 year old son. It’s a loaded question because you feel like the “right” answer is, “Nothing. I love being a parent. Period.”
But, in all honesty, there are a lot of hard things about being a parent.
Some are good hard, and some are hard hard.
With a 5 and 3 year old, and a 17 and 13 year old, I am constantly reminded of the fact that little kids come with a lot of the good hard: keeping them from running into traffic, not letting them shove Legos in each other’s noses, and trying keep your patience when teaching them how to wipe their butt.
The older kids come with more of the hard hard: easing their pain when they get dumped by someone they’re “dating” (even if “dating” at that age is often just texting each other more than your other friends), trying to figure out what parts of life you should shelter them from and which parts are great opportunities for lessons to be learned, and how to help them cope when a friend of theirs unexpectedly passes away.
Do you see what I mean about hard hard? It’s not necessarily “bad”…it’s just, on a scale of hardness, a lot harder to wrap your arms around.
For me at least, there’s nothing quite as painful as seeing your own child struggle with pain. Like, the sort of pain that makes your heart hurt.
I think the hardest part about being a parent sometimes is the self-imposed expectation that you should know what to do and what to say when your child is hurting. Because the truth of the matter is that even though we’re all adults, and we’ve all been through almost the same things they’re going through, it’s a totally different experience when it’s your child that’s going through it and your role takes on an entirely different look.
I’m a talker. And, I have very little filter, so that makes me talk even more than the average talker.
But, when I find myself caught in this corner of the parenting world, I often catch myself not saying anything.
Sometimes I think that’s not helpful, but sometimes I think it is. Sometimes I think not saying anything is more genuine than saying anything.
And, being genuine often trumps any other form of support that you can give a child because it forms the foundation of trust.
And, it’s all about trust, isn’t it?