As you have already discovered, this job is not an easy one. It’s not all snuggles and birthdays and high school graduations. It is the sniffles that turned out to be RSV…or COVID. It was the birthday party that was preceded by a tantrum, followed by a fight with the spouse, followed by food poisoning. It was a high school graduation that almost didn’t happen many many many times, and all the unpleasant family meetings with ‘what are we going to do with you?’ teenager.
Marcus Aurelius said that life was warfare and a journey far from home. He was a guy who had thirteen children, the majority of home, tragically, did not survive into adulthood. He knew this was not easy. He knew it could break your heart. It could challenge you even more than running an empire. Leonard Cohen, who had two kids, said that love was not a victory march it was a cold and a broken hallelujah.
The point is not to discourage you about being a parent with these descriptions, of course. You already bought your ticket and now you’re on the ride. It’s just a reminder: If you go around expecting this to be an unending series of Hallmark moments, you’re fooling yourself. If you’re comparing how you’re doing to what you see on television, you’re being unfair to yourself.
This thing is hard. Really hard. There are dark moments. There are moments when you think you’re the absolute worst. There are moments when you’ll be told you are in fact the worst. But you have to keep going. You can’t give up. You can’t despair.
They’re counting on you. And remember: it’s these moments that exist between the brighter, happier, more photogenic moments. Could you have one without the other? Maybe, but the former should make you appreciate the latter while you have them…and help you endure the former while you’re in them.