Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The challenges of parenting

I told you so. Remember how I mentioned a few days ago, that because I wrote about how good Hank has been lately, he was now destined to suddenly become as miserable as possible? Right.

Yesterday, I get home from work, and go to give Hank the usual hug and kiss greeting. The instant he looked up at me, I knew. His eyes were red, there were circles under them, and a scowl was affixed firmly on his cute little face.

"Hi, Honey. Boy, you look tired."

"I *NOT* tioed."

"I see. And you're grumpy as well."

"I *NOT EVEN* gwumpy!!"

*heavy sigh* Mike was heading out to teach, so I was taking Hank on solo for the evening. Oh joy.

We made it through dinner and bath with only a few tears. But when we got to bedtime reading, all hell broke loose.

I don't remember exactly what started the precipitous down slide, but it happened quickly. One minute we were reading a truck book, the next minute Hank was sobbing. And making demands. And I was telling him that it was bedtime.

Next thing I knew, Hank was storming about the house screaming, crying, sweating, and stomping, and I was rubbing my temples in the living room wondering why on earth I'm thinking about having another child when clearly I cannot even manage the one that I already have. This went on for approximately *45 minutes*, and by time Hank finally settled down I was contemplating the "Preschooler for Sale - CHEAP" sign out on the front lawn again. It was *horrible*. But I do have the foresight now as a parent to know that my feelings were not unusual, and that this was simply a bad night that would pass when everyone got a good night of sleep.

This morning, Hank awoke in a less than sunny mood, but after about 10 minutes, he settled down and everything was fine. I'm looking forward to an evening at home with both of my boys.

For sure and for certain, parenting is a truly humbling vocation. This anecdote brings to mind a laboring Catholic Librarian, going through transition with her epidural having worn off. Between gut splitting contractions, I would pause to ask each medical staff member through gritted teeth (and there were many; where do these people all come from when you're half dressed and swearing like a truck driver?) if they had a child. Yes? Then, here comes what I really want to know:

"Do you have more than one?"

Because I so very desperately needed to know in that moment that people do willingly go through this again. And they do. And, God willing, so will I. Because it's worth it.

This morning, I opened up my Living Faith devotional to a passage that made my morning.

"Faith is Our Life

During the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, 'Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.' Acts 5: 19-20.

As I prepared this devotion, I was struck by the words, 'tell the people everything about this life.' The phrase 'this life' underscored for me that, for the early Christians, faith in Jesus was not a pastime, diversion or sport. It was their life. It was a commitment of their whole selves to the person and teachings of Jesus. As such, their faith formed their attitudes. It shaped their decision-making. It determined their choices. Sometimes their faith led them to prison or even to death in the public arena.

What about my faith? Is it a pastime, or is it central to my life? Is it a mere interest I have, or does it lie at the heart of who I am and all I do?"

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