It’s the most wonderful time of the year – right? The madness of nativity plays and Christmas shopping, decorating, holiday biscuit making, red nose reindeer foot-printing, credit card maxing, food, festivities, and EXTREME BUSY-NESS. You see it everywhere.
Parental boasing hits an all time high this season (well-meaning boasting of course 🙂). The “here’s Johnny’s graduation day in Gr 000”, and “Awwww… Polly is a reindeer hoof in the school play” and “look at how beautiful Sammy’s homemade Christmas toilet paper angel is”, and and aaaaaaaaand. I can understand why these pictures can be a bit irritating for those without a reindeer hoof, toilet roll thingy-magig or Grade 000 graduation certificate. I mean I’m a parent, and I feel bombarded by FB’s plethora of random kid accomplishments.
DIGRESSION WARNING: Let me stop here to say I have numerous friends who are longing for children. LONGING to the point where communities have prayed and pleaded with God, and where I have physically and emotionally ached for them. Friends who have blessed MY family and MY children more so than I have ever properly acknowledged. Many are still walking this journey. This post is NOT for/directed at you. Please forgive our ignorant slapping of pictures onto Facebook which, I can only imagine, may cause a deep sting. May we all open our hearts, minds and homes to those who we know are walking this road… You are loved. May you feel this deeply this Christmas.
You moms and dads out there: you’re Heroes. The relentlessness of parenting and the never-ending need experienced day-on-day… there are not many appropriate words to describe it, other to say that parenting is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are not enough adverbs, both good and bad for how unbelievably intensely, beautifully, damn-bloody difficult it is. From the mental strain of remembering every single tiny little thing (darn you ‘show and tell’, why do you ALWAYS sneak up on me), to the physical exhaustion of a baby on a hip, broken sleep for the rest of our lives, the driving to and fro, sheltering your kids so you can get caught in the rain, the stepping on LEGO, to the emotions around playground talk, to emergency hospital visits, a scary diagnosis, indescribable fears…
Guys, the reality is that kids are insane. “They are tiny little dictators with unpredictable mood swings afraid of the most absurd things and cry for no apparent logical reason whatsoever”. How are you supposed to appropriately deal with that? It is like that ‘putting a jersey onto a octopus’ analogy. A bit like breastfeeding the baby while you’re on the toilet explaining to the sibling why you can’t butter their toast simultaneously. No wonder parenting is a big fat guessing game to which we all question whether we’re doing it right? There is no easy answer, ever, and we’re left wondering if all our impatient screaming has undone all the nail-bitingly difficult intentional “let’s make homemade Christmas paper with these potatoes and paint” moments. And I have a theory.
Those moments; when your kids eyes light up seeing Father Christmas, or when that Donkey (who is a kind, gentle, introverted thinker) actually sings a solo on the stage in front of 100+ people, or that ‘i love you’ they’re able to scribble for the very.first.time – that’s it. That’s the affirmation us parents are CRYING for. For the every-day, never-stopping, never-giving up day-in and day-out thing we do called Parenting. That’s it. That’s the glimpse of beautiful BRIGHT HOPE that we’re doing something, maybe very little, but something… right. They are it. It’s in these kids, and these moments that we see it. There is a tiny voice whispering from that graduation certificate/toilet roll angel/reindeer hoof performance proclaiming “well done mom/dad, you did okay, in fact you’re doing freakin’ awesome”.
Fellow (parenting) Comrades, You are PHENOMENAL. Post those end of year pictures everywhere you possibly can. Bombard us with them. Lock in those seemingly-absurd achievements… those joyful memories.
Celebrate loudly, celebrate richly, celebrate well. Because, man alive. You deserve it.