A friend of mine stationed in Hawaii had a baby last week. Pictures of her beautiful infant are showing up on my FB page every few days. I see his teeny tiny hands, that newborn face and his hospital issued hat and remember those early days of parenting. I was exhausted; I was falling in love with my infant; I was learning how to be a mom. During those days, I had a neighbor whose kids were in pre-school. She always said to me “just you wait”. I was irked by her words of warning. I wanted to simply take in the joy; I had no doubt that the ride would get bumpier, but for the moment, I just wanted to coast.
I currently sublet my office space from an agency that facilitates groups for people battling substance abuse issues. While walking through the waiting area this week, I bumped into someone I know from the community. This woman is strong and beautiful and in-charge. She appeared to be swallowed up by one of the oversized couches in the waiting room looking worn out, exhausted and spent. This woman was waiting for her teenager who was having an assessment with one of the substance abuse counselors. This is the scary and frustrating part of parenting. The great part is on other days: when your child runs up to you with a big hug, laughs with you during an episode of Modern Family or texts that he got an A on his math test. Recognizing that your child has a need for the Recovery Center is not a great part of the parenting trip.
The other night a client’s father, out of pure frustration, yelled me at. His eyes were glaring at me, his face beat red, “We have done everything we can for her, I don’t know what else to do.” The frustration and fear evident in his words and his tone. This man’s vision for his little girl has not come to fruition. Whether he had hoped she may be an all "A" student or captain of the lacrosse team, he is instead living with a girl that is angry, defiant and causing physical destruction in their home as well as emotional chaos within the family.
Scary and frustrating moments happen in every household not just the ones that write the therapy checks. Our kindergarteners get on a bus for the first time and leave our side, our toddlers have temper tantrums, sometimes on a daily basis and our teens learn to drive. The not great days are supposed to happen; it is how we learn, how our kids learn and how we master many of life's tasks. How else could we appreciate, really cherish the beautiful moments if we didn't have the fear and frustration on the other side? As high-school seniors marched into graduation this past spring, every parent was beaming with pride; memories of "D"'s on report cards during sophomore year or missed curfews earlier that winter had been buried. The great moments, the really special days are the ones to remember, to embrace and to remind and assure us that the crazy trip that we call parenting is a long and winding road that, G-d willing, lands us in the lap of grandparenthood.