I want to ask you a question. Why are you doing this? You know, this parenting thing? Why are you busting your butt to do everything for this child who, at this point, really doesn’t appreciate (or even fully understand) the sacrifices you are making for them every single moment of the day?
I know the answer seems really obvious right now. But this is the very question that you need to ask yourself, and know the answer to, when being a parent feels like the hardest thing in the world.
There are going to be times when your child will yell at you. They will refuse to eat the food you just bought with your hard-earned dollars and made just for them. They are going to make your work harder. They will make a mess of your once spotless home. They will break your belongings, even cherished items that you have held on to for years. They may hit their sister or pick on their brother. They are going to tell you that such and such present you got them for their birthday wasn’t what they wanted. They will complain when they don’t have the latest gadget that some other kid has, even though they have more than you ever had as a child. Your child, the one who looked at you once like you were the biggest thing in their world, is going to tell you that they HATE you. They are going to make you feel like the worst parent in the world. They are going to lie to you, they may steal from you, they may dapple in things that you never raised them to be around. They will deliberately defy you. They are going to make choices that you never would have made for them – choices when they are young, choices when they are teens, and choices when they are grown men and women – choices that you warned them against and they made them anyway, changing the course of their life forever.
So now, why are you doing this?
Love. That’s why. The biggest love you have ever experienced in your whole entire life. Before you even meet them, when they are safe inside the sanctuary of their mother’s womb, you love them. And when they meet your gaze with those wide, curious eyes, you know that you would die for them. Here is this perfect being that depends completely on you, and loves you right back. As they grow, it is apparent that they will follow you to the ends of the earth. They believe every word you say. They question the world with a torrent of “Why”s, wanting to know what it all means. And in that moment, you see the world through them, as something fresh and new and full of wonder. They grow even older and suddenly the “Why”s are replaced with reason. They can formulate ideas about how things work. And they can share conversations of brilliance with you. They get to their teen years, and in between their constant search for their own independence, you will find snippets of time when you share a laugh with them, soothe their broken hearts, witness their first steps of spreading their wings, and see the beauty in the adult they are becoming. In their lifetime they will make you proud. They will be the biggest reason you smile some days. They will be your comfort. And one day, a moment that comes way too soon, they will be gone – flying the coop to create adventures of their own, and one day, a family. And just as it was before you brought your sweet smelling bundle home from the hospital, your house will be empty once again.
Times are going to be tough, parents. There are many times when you are going to question this whole parenting thing. Why are you doing this? Why, exactly, is it worth all the heartache? Because you are their very first love. And in many ways, they are yours too. Because of all the good times that come with the difficult. Because much of this turmoil is actually helping them (and you) grow. Because these fleeting moments, the good and the bad, will be gone in a blink of an eye. And because one day, years from now, you will look at these moments that seemed so hard as they were growing up…and you will miss them.