“The hardest part of parenting is catching barf in your hands.”
My dad told me this at some point in the year before Judah was born. My mother agreed. Parenting was easy.
I thought back to these words many times in the first few months of being a momma. And they made me so freaking angry. Parenting was NOT easy. No it was not. If Judah was an appliance, I would have marched him right back to the store and demanded a refund. (Not really.) I felt duped by faulty advertising. (Except that he was my favorite appliance ever and I loved him more than the moon.)
After month three things got a little easier. (And when I say easier, I do not mean easy. I mean easier in relation to the challenge of caring for a new-newborn.) It has continued to get easier since then, but I would definitely NOT call parenting easy.
I assumed that all that pre-Judah talk about how EASY parenting was going to be was because
- My parents really wanted to be grandparents and didn’t want to scare me away from the idea altogether
- They both have dementia OR
- They are wicked, wicked pranksters
And then, just recently, a friend shared a link on Facebook. In the post, the author says,
You give until it hurts and then you give some more.
It’s pretty spot on from where I stand. In a comment, my friend added her thoughts and thanked her mother who never let on how hard parenting is.
Wait. Whaaaat? Thank a mom who never told you how hard it all was? Why would anyone thank their mother for being deceitful?
I thought about this post for a while and then it occurred to me that my parents weren’t concealing how hard parenting is because they wanted to dupe me, but because acts of love are not meant to be advertised as body-breaking, soul-draining, minding-stomping signs of devotion.
Now that I think about it, neither of my parents actually said that it was “easy.” They never used that word. When the subject of sleepless nights came up, my mom would shrug her shoulders and say, “When you woke up, I got up and we’d hang out.” And that was that.
Spiritual teachers often say that anonymous giving is the highest form of charity. So sure, it’s better to avoid bragging to others about how spiritual we are (and whatever) because we just donated to a disaster fund or volunteered our time at a homeless shelter. But we also shouldn’t go around reminding the recipient of our “open-heartedness” because we just did this really nice thing for them.
Imagine offering up a meal to someone at a shelter while telling them about how you didn’t get enough sleep because you had to get up SOoo early to be there, and how you’re a little bummed because your missing a friend’s BBQ, and you’re tired because you’ve been on your feet this whole time, and … “Enjoy your meal!”
When we give of ourselves, it is more meaningful when done with love and a quiet smile. This doesn’t just apply to parenting (or volunteering). It goes for any time we show someone kindness, care for them, or do them a favor. Gifts should always be wrapped in joy.
Gifts should always be wrapped in joy. Click To Tweet
Parenting must have been hard for my parents at times. I’m sure it’s hard for all parents. But when I think back to my mom and dad as I knew them growing up, they seemed to love taking care of us. They seemed to love planning birthday parties, making costumes, and bringing us juice and wet wash cloths when we were sick.
I’m not saying I never saw either of them exhausted, or sad, or frustrated. They were human, after all. But the thing I’ve come to appreciate is that I never saw them care for us begrudgingly. Everything they did for us, they did with love.
I hope that Judah grows up thinking that being a momma is a walk in the park. I hope he believes that I love going to recitals, and sporting events, and volunteering at his school. I hope he looks at me when I bring him soup in bed and assumes there is nothing on Earth I’d rather be doing. Because when you give with love, there really isn’t.
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