My son is three years old and as three-year olds go, he’s pretty damn great. However, he does display some of the standard toddler behaviors that come along with this age. One hilarious example is when he asks me a question, all the while hoping for a particular answer. If he doesn’t hear that answer, it looks something like this:
MY SON: Are we going to buy the new Lightning McQueen car at the toy store?
ME: I’m sorry, but we haven’t saved up enough coins for that yet so we’ll have to wait.
MY SON: [in a very matter-of-fact tone] No, no, no, don’t say, ‘We’ll have to wait.’
It’s fun to have these exhanges (and frustrating when they develop into a full-blown tantrum), and we get plenty of opportunity to “enjoy” them. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that I may do the same kind of thing when it comes to facing some of the realities of being a parent.
Our baby girl has been sick this week with RSV. A lot of kids under the age of two years old contract RSV and it occasionally requires hospitalization because the infant has a hard time breathing.
Thankfully she showed her first signs of improvement this afternoon after two days of pretty serious symptoms. In the thick of it, as we’ve been sleep deprived and praying and worried for our little girl, I began to think about what parenting is all about.
I realized that I am asking the wrong question over and over again. What I tend to say is, “When am I going to get some time to myself to do the things I want to do?”
Part of that question is healthy because we all need to find time to recharge. But for me, a lot of it is the temptation to go back to a life I don’t have right now, and to skirt the ardouos and demanding responsibilies that come along with being a parent.
So I am asking when I will get what’s coming to me, but I’ve noticed that I’m not getting the answer I want. And what’s toughest to admit is that I keep avoiding the answer that is right in front of me:
Being a parent is about serving, loving, and leading your kids.
When Krista and I decided to step into the world of parenthood, we never envisioned how difficult it would be. As our daughter has labored to breathe properly for the last two days, that difficulty has given me a strong sense of purpose as a parent. It’s the sense of purpose that comes along when you serve someone who is hurting and agonize because of their pain.
My kids didn’t ask to be born, but I did ask to be a parent. And being a parent means you learn to suffer with your kids, and then suffer for them later as they make their own difficult and sometimes bad choices. Once that burden is accepted, it brings a connection between a parent and a child that will have a profound and lasting effect.
May all parents find the grace to embrace this connection, even with the cost that accompanies it.