Being a dad is hard.
I have probably had more chances to be humbled in the last four months than in the previous four years. And I suspect it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. Right now, all we really have to do for Calder is meet his physical needs. It’s going to get harder when he begins to have more emotional needs and spiritual needs. It’s going to be hard when we have to talk about sin and death, about money, about sex and relationships, and about all the things that turn sweet little boys into unhappy young men.
The other unequivocal fact that I have noticed is this:
Parents like to talk about just how hard parenting is.
What Did We Expect?
Whenever I go to Google to ask a question, about how to not inadvertently kill my child, I can easily get entangled in endless blogs and message board posts about how hard all this parenting stuff is.
I can get on Netflix and find endless sitcoms and standup comedy routines about how hard it all is. Bedraggled parents who are “just barely hanging on,” barely clinging to their marriage or their sanity in the midst of raising their horde of children.
But I wonder…
I wonder how many of us, upon entering high school or college, actually believed that it was supposed to be easy. I laugh a little bit whenever teenagers complain about how difficult high school life is. It’s not supposed to be easy, I tell them.
I say the same thing to my third graders or even kindergarten students when they comment that the work I am having them do is hard.
I wonder how many of us actually believed as we met our spouse at the altar, that it would be easy.
I wonder how many of us secretly thought that raising kids might actually be easy.
Was It Supposed to Be Easy?
Perhaps none of us actually, truly believed that any of these things would be easy. But maybe we are surprised at just how difficult things actually turned out to be. At this moment, I actually think my life has never been harder.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
There are so many shows, blogs and resources that talk about how hard parenting and marriage is. There are blogs and books about how hard faith is. There are resources about how hard building a career or a business is.
But how many shows or books, blogs or message boards told us this is the way life is supposed to be?
Parenting is supposed to be hard. A day with a toddler isn’t supposed to be productive. Life is supposed to move slower with a child. Chores are supposed to take longer. Parents are supposed to be tired at the end of the day.
Marriage is supposed to be hard. Marriage is this miracle where two different people become one flesh, and that is a miracle that takes a lot of work. Nine years in, I think I work harder at my marriage now than I ever have before.
Life Was Created To Be This Way
It’s great fun to bond with other parents over discussions about how hard parenting is. I’m sure that this Mother’s Day, Cheri will have at least one conversation about the challenges of mothering, and on Father’s Day, I’ll tell at least one guy the reality of fatherhood.
It’s a good release to watch a sitcom and see a little bit of yourself in that fake TV family. (Sitcoms have come a long way, and families have become much less perfect since the Cleavers went into syndication.) It’s hilarious to listen to Jim Gaffigan or Louis CK joke about the drudgery of raising kids.
But what the blogs and the comedians rarely say is that it wouldn’t be beautiful if it weren’t so hard.
Easy things are not satisfying. Easy things are not memorable. People don’t bond over the easy times. But God made life to be like this. God made us to do hard things, like raise children.
People bond and faith is grown as we clench our fists and try to hang on through the storms. I cannot imagine where my marriage would be if it had all been easy. I probably wouldn’t remember any of it.
If you are in a hard time today, remember, it’s supposed to be this way. We were born for this. An easy life would not be one worth remembering or writing about.
There is beauty in the hard.