I try to be honest in my writing. In fact, that's why I do it. It's an outlet for me and I sincerely pray that it brings hope and laughter to the other parents out there. I'd like to assume that all parents attempt to demonstrate the truth about parenting in their social and written interactions as well. I notice, however, a ton of rainbows and butterflies in most of the stuff I read and hear . . . and I've even noticed it in my own writing. For me that's because I am hopeful, my faith is firmly planted, and I want my readers to know that.
But I also want to make sure you know that sometimes I want to stab my eyes out with a fork. Sometimes I'm at my worst. And truthfully, sometimes I feel like I'm going to drown and can't possibly accomplish what's being asked of me, either perceived or literally.
You should know that I cried yesterday. You're not the only one. I cried for 15 minutes right in the middle of my day. I could pinpoint the straw that broke the camel's back, but I couldn't possibly share with you the mountain that got me there. This is my reality lately.
So I want to tell you something about reality while I squash the illusion that somehow our hope or our faith or our strength make us perfect.
The reality is that I have a six-year old little boy that has managed a complete flip-flop in his personality. He went from intensely sweet and logical to intensely mean, defiant and unreachable. That same little boy is sick and on medication that he would never normally be on . . . and will be for a long time. That little boy probably feels terrible and is not quite capable yet of expressing that in a constructive way. Heck, I'm not even capable of doing that on a consistent basis.
So the reality is that I weep for this little boy that I so fiercely love. But the reality also is that this new behavior pushes me to that edge where mothers and fathers make terrible decisions. Even understanding his pain and his fear, I stare into eyes that are so filled with defiance and anger that I go to that place. My eyes fill with that same defiance and anger (he probably got it from me, after all) and sometimes I explode. I don't react with love or patience or kindness. I equal the playing field. I protect my heart instead of his. That's the reality. Then I weep because I chose poorly instead of fighting the correct fight. You're not the only one.
Exhaustion is the reality. I have a two year old who has slept through the night twice. Twice. During her entire existence in our home . . . only twice. I would love to tell you that I am magically equal to the task every day, even after only 5 hours of inconsistent sleep, but I'm not. The reality is that I'm not always equal to the task. I'm exhausted. I walk around like a zombie. I fall asleep everywhere. And I don't accomplish half of what I plan or need to. That's the naked truth. There are dark circles under my eyes and my house could fairly be considered a disaster. This is reality. It's not just you.
In reality, you're going to run out of swimming diapers. But you're going to let your screaming toddler run through the sprinkler in her swimming suit anyway. And then you're going to be mad as heck when she poops in it. While you're attempting to clean that mess, she's also going to pee all over your bathroom floor. Sorry, folks, that's the reality. Your kid isn't the only one.
Your 5 year old is going to scream in a really high pitched voice. She's going to do this while crossing her arms and stomping her feet. And she's going to do it where there are a million judgmental people watching. Welcome to reality, my friend. It doesn't just happen to you. You have my word.
The reality is that we all get tired. We all make incredibly poor choices and wish we hadn't. We all get frustrated by the daily routine. We all get bogged down by things we can't control. We all hurt and make mistakes. We all get desperate. And I promise you you're not the only one who sits in the corner and cries.
But here's your hope. Perfect performance is not required of you. Perfect effort is. I'm hopeful, I'm faithful, and the reality is, I'm stronger than I think. This doesn't exempt me from making mistakes or being a total idiot, but it does plant me on the right road where the only direction is forward.
We have a loving God who has paid for every stupid thing I've ever done or will do. He did the same for you. I can fix anything. Anything. So can you. I can keep moving forward, even if a snail would look quick next to me. Sometimes I can run and sometimes I can only manage to crawl, but I can correct my course and give a perfect effort. Every day. I can do that. So can you.
I just need you to know that you're not the only one that silently sheds tears. You're not alone in making mistakes, however great or small. You're not alone in your exhaustion or your chaos. I'm there. So is the woman next door and the lady down the street. Everyone is there regardless of how they look to you. Remember that.
Remember that all of this has been paid for. It's all been fixed. You just have to give your best effort. You just have to correct and to try every day. I can do that and you can do that.
Forget the illusion that parenthood is running through fields of flowers and butterflies. You may find yourself in said field a time or two, but the reality is you're probably going to trip and your child is going to step in dog poop. That's just the reality. Just remember that the same thing happened to me.