“I don’t want to do anything,” my four-year-old whined. Meanwhile, I was trying to clip his brother’s fingernails (“Come on, just sit still!”) while another toddler clung to me unwilling to let go. It was a “meh” day: The annoyances weren’t a huge deal, but they were enough to get irritated, to lose hindsight.
That same night, I hopped onto my computer and caught up with the latest posts from my friend, Oana. Her four-month-old son had been struggling with reflux symptoms and general restlessness. Or so I thought. Because as the posts in her blog progressed, she described what she thought was reflux, to complicated hospital stays, to her finally saying goodbye to her son. In a span of a few weeks.
Just like that.
Her son had terminal cancer. My heart crumbled, and while I’ve never met Oana in person (we don’t live near one another), she and I started blogging at about the same time. Our kids are around the same age. We’ve been following one another for years. And to read about her son’s passing seemed surreal. I had just won one of her book giveaways—Wasn’t that just a few months ago? Weren’t we just exchanging addresses? I asked myself. It didn’t seem fair.
I don’t go around finding tragedies to boost my own gratitude. Nor will I stop venting—yes, even for mundane things like clipping nails and clingy toddlers—because someone else has it worse than me.
But it does put things in perspective and reminds you what really matters. Realizing how fickle life can be helps you step back, be aware, and let those petty things slide.
Because, what really matters in parenthood?
Your kids matter. Connecting with them. More than losing our tempers over a burrito. More than the tips and tricks on making parenting easier. More than our kids’ developmental milestones, or working mom guilt, or evening time management tips.
Really be there for your kids, through tantrums and happy moments. Where we hold our kids when they’re ecstatic and when they’re upset. Don’t blame kids or motherhood for yet another hectic day. We know it’s not their fault. Choose to stop wrangling and struggling with power dynamics and instead show empathy and let it go.
And appreciate what you have.
This doesn’t mean I won’t ever vent. Or that what we do on a daily basis is trivial. Or that we should live in fear and paranoia. But on those days when your kids irritate the crap out of you and you just can’t wait until bedtime already… hang in there. Because someone else would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
I won’t even try to understand what Oana is going through (instead I invite you to read her blog). But I’m reminded once again, in a painful way, to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Above the activities and crafts we plan for our kids. Above what we should offer at dinner and whether it’s healthy or not. Even above how to discipline or follow through with consequences.
Yes, on a daily basis, doing these things matters. But not as much as whom we’re doing them for.
Read more posts about parenthood:
- Nobody’s Perfect, Including Our Kids
- Parenting Tip: Be More Carefree
- Unfair Reasons We Get Mad at Our Kids
- These Are the Things Your Kids Will Remember About You
- You’re Not Alone: Parenting Bloggers Don’t Always Follow Their Own Advice Either
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