I have one friend whose oldest daughter just had major brain surgery. I have another friend swimming the seemingly impossible sea of postpartum depression. I have another friend with four of her five kids on the spectrum. I have another friend who has a child who won’t eat anything grown from the ground and another who lost a child far too soon. We all have such unique challenges when it comes to parenting and it never does us any good to compare hardships. It seems that every week in church I attempt to encourage the women around me to share their stories, share their triumphs and their struggles both past and present.
One constantly worries that she will only be burdening those around her while others worry that everyone else has so much going on nobody will care about their struggles. I argue in response that we can’t help one another without knowing what we’re all going through. That doesn’t mean we have to tell our tales expecting other people to fix them, but it does mean that there are billions of people on Earth and it’s our job to take care of one another when we can.
I have been very open and honest about my struggles with depression before, during and after pregnancy and never once has someone attacked me or called me weak for sharing what was hurting so badly in my heart. Tonight I read one of the best posts I’ve ever read about infertility and shared it with as many people as I could. The author admitted to how scary it was to hit publish but how grateful she was that she did, the support and understanding that poured in from friends and strangers will hopefully be enough to carry her through even one more day of the difficult path she has in front of her.
For a long time my greatest parenting challenge was my depression. Then it was my struggle with infertility and the guilt that came with feeling ungrateful for the one wonderful child I already had. There was another season where my marriage was in trouble because we had forgotten how to take care of each other and at this moment I can say that we are stronger in our marriage, I am stronger in my own mental health and so appreciative of this baby of mine. Right now the biggest parenting challenge I face is simply being scared to death of doing it wrong. Whatever ‘it’ may be.
Being scared seems like such a simple challenge in comparison to illnesses, surgeries and failing relationships, however I’m well aware everything could change by morning and my fears of messing up could be replaced with fears of not being able to feed my kids, put a roof over their heads or keeping them healthy.
In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another.”
And in the words of Plato – “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
What is your greatest challenge as a parent right now?