Parenting is hard work. I tried to think of many more eloquent ways to say it but no words can mask the truth that parenting is just plain hard. I have only been doing it for four years now but I can tell you that it is by far the most draining and challenging of tasks I have undergone in my life. In fact, some days it seems so overwhelming that I want to throw up my hands and say “I give up”. But I recently had a bit of an epiphany in regards to my purpose and I want to share it with you to encourage you in your parenting journey today.
I was out for a run (my preferred method of therapy lately), and I was going through the park, passing kids on the way to a soccer game and a couple walking their dog when suddenly I ran underneath a large oak tree, noticing the acorns that had fallen to the ground below. A small voice inside me said “pick up that acorn” as I glanced at one that was freshly fallen. I immediately silenced my inner voice with a reply that would have sounded harsh had I spoken it aloud. But despite the logic that perhaps it wasn’t a typical thing for a runner to stop and pick up an acorn, I couldn’t shake the thought as I ran the remainder of the park. In fact, the thought continued to grow as I ran father from the tree and it stirred something inside me so powerful that I decided to turn a loop and return past the tree so I could pick up the acorn on my way home. As I approached the tree I actually began to fear that the acorn would be gone, as if some other person was also silently aching for the “perfect acorn”. My fears subsided though as I scanned the ground and saw the acorn I had once passed up, still waiting like a lost wallet to be claimed. I picked it up, happy to have silenced the dialogue inside me, and ran home with a smile on my face.
Now this story may seem very unusual to you on the surface, but I hope that my deeper inspiration makes it relatable to you. I had been feeling particularly defeated before that run. Exhausted by the monotony of caring for young children, and the gnawing feeling that I was doing everything wrong. Getting in some exercise has been a way for me to mentally unwind and also to focus on the effort of the run rather than how tired I feel. During the run I had been considering what my goals are as a mother and how I might know when I’d met them. Then I saw the acorn. It finally dawned on me. That’s my child. That tiny little seed that carried all of the traits of the tree that dropped it (no, I’ve never dropped my baby). So small and fragile but also destined to become a grand, strong, oak tree if it is planted in good soil and nourished properly. It doesn’t become a majestic tree in one day, one year, or even one decade. It takes time and patience, but all its full potential is already contained inside of the vulnerable shell. There will be days of beautiful sunshine and gentle rain to help it to grow. There will also be seasons of drought and then the storms that test its fragile limbs. But I can trust that given my best efforts to care for my children, they will grow into the dignified, strong, and inspirational people that they are destined to become.
So take heart today, parents who are weary of the relentless diapers, tantrums, sibling squabbles or tween angst. These days will pass, our kids will get through, and they will be stronger for it. So will you .