Monday, October 14, 2013

The most difficult thing to do

Parenting is difficult. Yet, it is the most rewarding thing to do.

People find it strange that parents will talk for hours about how difficult it is. And then, they will end by saying it is the most rewarding thing they have ever done! Yet, if you think about it, difficult tasks are the most rewarding. Nobody wants to play simple games after they have mastered them. The fun is always in pushing your limits, in learning something new. In mastering a skill for the first time. Doing the same thing repeatedly bores us; a challenge keeps us going. Something just past our reach, something we can excel at if we just try!

Parenting pushes your limits of capability. You sleep lesser, you work harder, you get more tolerant and more patient, and you realize how much free time you used to have. Many parents spend their limited time more fruitfully than they previously did.

And what is true of parenting is even more true of parenting a sick child. When your child falls ill, it tests your patience, your communication with your spouse, and the child's trust in you. Any fool can take care of a happy and well child. Handling illness well separates good parents from bad. I never look forward to illness, but there's always something good that comes out of it. Young children are naturally much closer to the mother. However, every bout of illness brings my son closer to me. We spend a lot of time together, and get to understand each other better. He trusts me a bit more, and gets comforted by me. For a short period after the troubled time, both mommy and daddy are equally favored.

Parenting is all about tough times. When my son was very young, his favorite toy fell from his hands and shattered. For a while after that he was in a state of shock. I told him that this was normal, that toys broke and that daddy would make sure to get him a toy just like the broken one. I also told him that sadness was normal, because it was his favorite toy. For months after that, he repeated the same words to me. When we were together, he would relive that moment: he spoke of how his toy fell, how sad he was, and how I comforted him.
I could just as easily have blown it. I could have been angry, I could have yelled at him for being careless. And just like that, I would have lost his respect. He was already forlorn. He was aware of his mistake. What he needed was comfort and strength.
A few months later, when he faced another tough situation, I was amazed that he repeated the same words. He talked about how it was difficult, how he was sad, and how the situation would improve.

Parenting is all about "keeping your head about you" in dire times.