Parenting is hard. Sleepless nights, barf, tantrums, food wars, rainy soccer games, bickering, carpools and endless pairs of new shoes. There is exhaustion — physical, mental and emotional. Questioning my decisions. Falling into the comparison trap and the fear that climbing out is impossible. The sadness of knowing they will leave one day and sometimes hoping that day comes soon.
The hardest part hasn’t been the weekly hill of laundry I must summit or the meals no one eats or even the arguments about how short that skirt can be. It’s not the thermoses and water bottles abandoned on the kitchen counter for days or that I didn’t see my dining room table for seven years because it was covered in homework.
The hardest part, without a doubt, has been the child whose hero I once was, who used to come to me with every joy and pain, who drew a pictures of a heart labelled with our names. The hardest part is that this child has become a near-stranger. This child saves his best for others. I see the disdain cross his face. I see the eyes almost roll. I sense that I am deeply lame and know nothing about everything. I “don’t understand.” I should just “forget it” and “never mind.” What a dolt I am because I still don’t know what a meme is or why I’m salty.
I don’t want to actively parent for the rest of my life. I’m getting tired. But I haven’t tagged out yet. My head knows this is normal behavior and I shouldn’t take it personally. But sometimes my heart is sad because I miss the love and the hugs and the drawings. I miss being the one they love best, trust most, and come to when they are sad, scared, and happy. I miss when the world wasn’t quite so much a part of our family, when we were cocooned in. They were sometimes long and lonely days, but they were safe and full of love. I miss getting hugs and kisses I didn’t ask for.
Parents with grown children have told me kids come around and are nice again. I don’t want to wish away time but it will be good to be in that place one day and know that it wasn’t in vain. These are the times I turn to our Mother Mary. I imagine her wrapping me in her mantle and gently reminding me to trust. It’s going to be okay. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. I know she understands how it is to have a heart so vulnerable. I know she understands how something can be so joyful and heartbreaking at the same time. I know she prays for me and it makes me feel better.
So, I’ll grab some water, tie my shoes and get back in the race knowing I am not alone. I have a mother in Mary, who is alongside me the whole way. It’s a pretty great race after all.
Copyright 2018 Merridith Frediani