With permission from my close friend, I am going to share a VERY special story with you.
A story that hinges on a single photograph.
A story that even the best writer would struggle to convey it's incredible emotion without this visual aid. Yet with it, both the written and the unwritten word is immediately expressed in ways that seem to speak to the depths of the human heart with ease.
This is the story of every striving mother. This the story of every yearning child.
This is your story and this is mine.
The life of a parent is incredibly taxing at times. We don't want to talk about that part much, yet every parent knows this statement's worth and value. Now, to say this in no way downgrades the matchless joys of raising a child! Just as speaking of the benefits of parenting does not somehow imply that the trying times don't exist. For those that take on the adventure of child rearing, these two are partners on the same team and regardless of how much we wish it were different...they are indeed inseparable.
On any given day, when the countless things you do to just maintain routine life is buried underneath a handful of unexpected challenges, you already know this is going to require all your strength to get through it. But add one more trial to the heap that is also gut wrenchingly hard, and you now have a pile up that is determined to suffocate any parent.
I know this kind of day. I've lived it many times. On some accounts I have regrets on how I handled them, and on others I was thankful to have found an uncharacteristically powerful strength that seemed to come out of nowhere. I'm sure you know these days too. Perhaps when they arise you find yourself getting anxious and shutting down, trying to distance yourself from what is happening. Or if you are more like me, you might find yourself overwhelmed and in haste snapping at those you love. However it may look for you, we all know that this equation is something that not even the highest ranking businessmen would willingly sign up for. It is stress added to stress that taps on all your internal resources like nothing else I've experienced to date. These are the days that I pray for in advance, knowing those stored up prayers will be waiting for me in my most desperate moments.
Enter my friend. Courageous, smart, creative, devoted and adoring mother of one gifted 8 year old daughter and one delightful 4 year old son. Put together your typical day of events, up early, dress everyone, prep lunches, eat breakfast, two school drop offs, laundry, housework, business phone calls, meetings, traffic, etc... Then add an expensive ticket for an "improperly worn seat belt" and oh yeah, a phone call from her son's school. He has pushed another child.
Crash, goes the day.
A well loved and a well taught child will usually grieve deeply when they have done something wrong. But I think they will grieve even more at the disappointment they have caused their mom and dad. To be brave and discipline a child is one of the hardest parts of parenting. It wasn't until I had children of my own that I understood that age old saying of "This is going to hurt me more than this going to hurt you". To stop a child in their tracks of misdeeds and deliver punishments of scolding behavior, time outs and loss of privilege is one thing, sticking with it is another. When those tears start falling down either cheek and you can feel the true remorse of their heart, it is even harder. Just as your days goes crash. So does theirs.
Maybe our kids are thinking to themselves, "I wish I would not have done that" just like we do sometimes. Maybe they are experiencing how scary it feels to lose control and do wrong. Maybe they are upset because they don't like the punishment they've received. Or maybe the tears come because they are tempted to believe that momma doesn't love them anymore. If any of these were true in her son's case, it would not be strange. It has been true for us too. Because we've been there and lived it, there is a part of every child in us still. It is in moments like these when see children, we instantly know them, and therefore we weep too.
After the tears were cried by all, and the discipline had been said and given, my friend stepped away to start dinner. When the day falls apart all over you and you have nothing left to give, the last thing on your mind is a blessing. Well just like the unexpected crash of life's trials, the beauty of parenting also comes without any warning. In no uncertain terms know this, what you model before your children and what you pour into your them will always shine through. It is the harvest of a seed sown and it will find its way to the surface.
All at once my friend looks over to her children from the kitchen to find them in the most compelling embrace that mere words can not describe. it is meant to be witnessed. I could try to outline with words the tears that left her son's face streaked with moisture. I could try to convey the unmistakable pain of regret in his eyes. I could do my best to depict the extraordinary maturity with which his sister held him in her arms. And then verbally trace how she closed her eyes and kissed his forehead with all the love that filled her heart for him. I could even anticipate a dialog between the two of them that might have included phrases like...
"I know." "It's okay now." "I love you."
But I don't think I need to. It will speak for itself. And the longer you look at this photograph the more you will hear it speak to your heart. For in us is still every child yearning to grow and become, yet stumbling to figure it all out. And for every parent striving to love, guide and make a difference in the little lives we've been entrusted, it is moments like these that arrest us, melt us, comfort us and encourage us to know that even with all of the challenges and shortcomings, we are doing something right.
Unexpectedly, tenderly, love goes crash.
Love one another.