Dear Moms of Growing Children,
I write this letter to you as I complete day three of watching my 2 ½-year-old granddaughter and 11-month-old grandson (and I write it to moms because I don’t know what it feels like to be a dad, although, I am quite certain it is very similar – so Dads, welcome).
I finish the day with a familiar fatigue from years gone by. Exhausted from head to toe, and still an entire house to clean so we can make sure and start the day off right tomorrow.
I raised five children, starting with twins. My youngest is now 17 years old, and while there is still plenty of parenting to be done, very little of it is physical. It’s funny how, just as the memory of the pain of childbirth fades with time, so does the complete physical involvement of raising children.
Tonight as I was cleaning up after dinner – the third one in three days – (every single night these kids want food!) I was reminded of how repetitive and monotonous the tasks of parenting can become. If we are lucky, there is very little variance in the day-to-day activity of nurturing our young. (Why lucky? Because boring is good. Boring means nothing bad has happened. Nothing tragic has happened. Boring is good because life is going on as we intentionally set it in motion.)
But, boring is boring. And exhausting. And seemingly meaningless. I mean, how important can it be to make another pot of macaroni and cheese, or wash another load of laundry, or read the same book for the 5th time today, or change the sheets while allowing the little one to help even though it would be faster to just do it yourself? And if you have more than one child, then seriously – How. Many. Times. Do you have to break up a squabble, or tell them to quit hitting, or explain that when they say mean things it hurts feelings and we don’t hurt people we love.
And forget about time to yourself, right? Because as soon as you get it, someone inevitably gets hurt and needs you RIGHT NOW. There’s no scheduling the needs of children. Shoot, it’s a good day when bath time and bedtime happen at the right times.
Sure, you love your kids. More than anything in the world. And you wouldn’t change a thing just to have excess free time or a body that wasn’t exhausted at the end of the day or an energy tank that wasn’t depleted…but sometimes, you have to wonder…will this ever end? And is it even worth it?
I’m here to tell you the answers with a resounding YES and YES!
One day you will wake up and realize that you have so much time on your hands you don’t know what to do with it. And you will wonder who you are and what YOU like to do.
But make no mistake, the work you are doing, day in and day out, is the most important work in the world! Raising the next generation is arguably the most meaningful work a person can do.
Your child will take what you teach her in the monotonous moments of the daily grind and turn it into untold magic.
You won’t know for years to come how the patience and unconditional love you showed your child during the boring days allowed him to understand his gifts and his path in this world.
I am even willing to bet that your grown child will come back to you with a memory of something you said or did that made a very impactful influence on her life and you won’t even remember it. But it’s that very thing that will be the springboard to her to fulfilling her destiny.
So, yes, trudge through the day in, day out, monotonous tasks – give thanks for the boring times – and stay very clear on the relevant importance of the grand work you are doing.
In years to come, your children will always carry your love in their hearts – and that’s what will shape the world.
From a Mom who knows that it all goes by far too quickly