Living into the Roughness
“I never knew parenting would be so...hard.”
My words to my husband a few weeks ago.
It had been a truly terrible day. A let down day. A sabbath gone all uncomfortable. The most true thing about being a parent is that there is not enough of you to last. I swear most of the frustration I feel in my marriage is wanting Luke to be able to swoop in and do what I can’t. But he can't. There is too much to do. There are always weeds to pull and some weird forgotten plastic thing in the back yard incubating mosquitos. During the summer I think, I will clean out all these closets! or I will paint that furniture! or I will turn my garden plot! But I don’t do any of that. My garden plot is growing weeds that are taller than I am. There’s a plastic sandbox under the porch that is, inexplicably, full of dead weeds. There are Things to Do around here.
So The List becomes very compelling. I will accomplish these things, I will check things off, and as soon as I get everything set up, Life will be Easier. And some other things get postponed or avoided. I threaten instead of do. I nag instead of lead. I pacify instead of instruct.
Until you watch your four year old incite rage in his brother on purpose.
He does not feel seen.
Until you cringe every time you get into a car.
Unless you plug them in.
Until you resent the freedom of adults sitting alone
at street cafes.
I am a very frustrated perfectionist. I want perfection, but I can’t see, touch, taste, or smell it from here.
(Judging by that list, I guess I can hear it.)
I want to be the perfect parent. I want to deliver my children to the world undamaged, actualized, and mature. And I want to be able to do this perfectly--with no mess and all homemade.
Right now we are going through a phase? era? epoch?
I like to refer to it as bickering.
There are things I thought I could avoid. There are things I thought I was prepared for. There are things I thought I could handle.
I was wrong.
Bickering is the giant rhubarb of parenthood. It is pernicious, spiny, and huge.
I offer no insight or advice, but I offer this one reflection: there are things in life that are uncomfortable, and it seems it is those very things we must walk straight into. Flinching, unsure, imperfect. Because parenting is too much, too hard, too important.
If the Hero’s Journey is an out and back, the Heroine’s Journey is round and round the mulberry bush. A cycle of Growth and Death. Reaching and Resting. Staking up and Pruning back. And this day was a day of pruning.
So, this day, I will turn all my attention and intention toward these children. I will be strong, I will be brave, I will be imperfect.