What is True About Parenting

Ann Ruethling and Patti Pitcher reflected on what they found to be true in parenting in Under the Chinaberry Tree.  You’d be missing out if you didn’t have an opportunity to read their thoughts…

“If he had asked me a couple of years ago to tell him what I’d found to be true about parenting. I wouldn’t have mentioned the obvious – the wakeful nights, the spit-up, or the endless diapers – but rather what a profoundly life-changing experience it is.  As I get more and more days of parenting under my belt, though, I realize my advice would come in the form of questions.  I would ask…

Did you search your sould more deeply than you’ve ever searched it before deciding to have a baby and do you understand that parenting is forever?  Do you understand that no matter how much you prepare or how much you read, you will still find yourself questioning?  That the questions get bigger and harder – not smaller and easier – as your child gets older?  That there will be times when your child will need you to hold him in his darkest hour – whether he’s fifteen months or fifteen years old – even when every bone in your body says you don’t have the energy or when your appointment book says you don’t have the time?  That you will need to take a hard look at what ‘everybody’s doing’ and ask for the wisdom to know what is best and the courage to act from your heart?  Do you understand, the sooner the better in your parenting journey, that you are not parenting in a vacuum, that your child, raised with the values you have given her, will be impacting the world for better or for worse sooner than you’d ever dreamed?  Did you search your soul and even try to understand how our society has reached the point where children kill children?

And I would go on.  Are you willing to pray for guidance to know how to bring some Light into our often dark world, to take steps to soften the hard edges?  Do you have the patience to cry with others when there is pain and be full of joy when something of beauty has graced your family’s life?  Are you willing to slow down; to be sleepless in the middle of the night, wondering if you handled something the best way; to learn more than you thought you ever wanted to learn about things that have nothing to do with advanced degrees or the career track?  Can you be vulnerable?  Are you willing to be more completely honest than you’ve ever been?  Are you willing to see the places in your life where you stopped growing long ago?  Do you understand that to bring a child into the world, as well as to birth yourself as a more compassionate human being in the process of parenting, is not only the hardest thing you’ll likely ever do but, just as important, a profound honor? 

Yes, I would ask my friend these questions, longing for him to understand in the process of answering them the sacredness of the work at hand.  For if his answers are ‘yes’ then I trust that each time he wipes grubby hands, makes yet another peanut butter sandwich and with loving words breaks up a sibling dispute, he knows with each cell of his being that parenting is noble work whose every act is heroic and a task worth doing from the deepest, best place of his soul.”

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