The Best Things
People ask me all the time, “Does it get easier?”
That is a tough question to answer. Physically, without a doubt, parenting becomes easier. Once you are no longer loaded down like pack mule on every outing, baby strapped to your chest, trying to just to keep everyone alive, things inevitably become easier.
Mentally? Emotionally? I think it becomes much more difficult. The answers aren’t as clear. Heck, sometimes I don’t even know what the question is that I am trying to answer.
Here are five of the things I like best about my kids growing up:
1) They can reach high things for you. Even if they are not teeenagers or taller than you yet, I have not yet met a kid who doesn’t relish climbing on the counter to get things out of the overhead cabinets. That makes life easier because I don’t have to drag a step stool around.
2) They can carry all the groceries in from the car. This one is probably my favorite. I have often said that if I won the lottery that is what I would pay someone to do– carry my groceries in and put them away.
3) They eat the leftovers. Remember back to the days when you had young kids who were picky and you honestly had no idea how they were even surviving. I have a couple of kids that I think have somehow evolved to photosynthesize. I am here to tell you to have heart, teenage boys eat anything. One day last week I had made muffins. My youngest two ate maybe half of their muffins and left the rest on their plates in a sort of crumbled heap. My 15 yr old son walked by the table, paused and asked, “Do you think they are done with those muffins?”
And then he ate them.
4) You can have actual conversations with them that do not involve cartoon characters, toys, or television shows. And when you, and by you I mean me, stop to listen to them and not try and turn everything into a life lesson, you realize that they are funny, smart people that you probably would have liked to have for a friend when you were their age.
5) You begin to reap all the hard work you have sown. Sometimes it will come upon you in surprising ways. You realize that not only have they have been listening to you, they have been watching you. Some things can’t be taught, only caught and there isn’t a way to quantify these things. No checklist to check off to make sure they have learned life skills the way that you can check off bike riding, reading, learning to swim. How do you know that you are raising good people?
My 9 yr old was going to sleepaway camp for the first time ever a week ago and he was so nervous. This child is a worrier by nature and so for years I have had to “talk him off the ledge.” Last week I overheard his older brothers calming his fears. They had no idea I was listening to them. They had no motivation for being compassionate toward him other than it was what they had been exposed to. Other than it was the right thing to do. It warmed my heart.
Of course, a couple hours later they were fighting and picking on each other unmercifully, so all is still right in the world.
So even at the end of the day, when I am quite sure I am just fumbling around in the dark, clueless, I feel confident that at the very least they will one day grow up to be the sort of people who can put their own groceries away on the high shelves in their houses. And that comforts me.