I was gonna write about the stuff I have learned since becoming a mom, six years ago last month. And I still want to write that post, in all of its endearing and heartfelt glory.
As much as I loved celebrating their lives this past month, and having two excuses for lots of cake inside the span of a week, all that I could see when the candles were blown out on their birthday cakes were the next 18 years of their lives billowing away as gently as the smoke floated toward the ceiling. How those flames flickered out under the burst of just one puff of air.
Translation?: Life moves so.quickly.
Like, faster than the batteries seem to be dying in my computer’s keyboard as of late. What gives?
I know what I’m SUPPOSED to want for my children.
Success. Love. Happiness. Contentment. Joy. Some more happiness and success. Laughter. Friendship. Some more love in there. All of the things.
I do want those things for my children.
Recently, though, I realized something quite profound.
I don’t want them to always have it easy.
It was a hard thing to admit. In fact, it goes against everything I thought I knew about being a mother, against what I am biologically hard-wired to want for them.
But it’s true.
I don’t want this life to always be easy for them.
For those that think I’m being a cold-hearted mother, let me give you some context.
I stood outside on the phone with a friend.
I listened intently as she lamented her life. Why couldn’t the ones she love just make better choices? Do the conventional thing? (Translation: Why couldn’t they make easier choices?)
The day’s dreary weather was fitting for such an uncertain conversation. It was gray and rainy. It didn’t feel like summer, so much as one of those lingering days of fall that eventually burn away into winter.
I didn’t have time to be irritated with such typical, sporadic Maryland weather. Okay, maybe I was irritated just a little. I was wearing Uggs in June. (Only they were more like, “Ugghs.” Get it?)
I knew exactly what she was saying. I knew how she felt. Life is hard enough without “voluntarily” adding difficult stuff on top of it all that will make it that much harder just to exist.
I looked down and kicked the grass with my the tip of my boot. At first I didn’t say anything. I wondered what I could even say to assuage her troubles? I knew that in my heart of hearts that I have felt and thought the exact same things before, especially in relation to my children.
Though I understood what she was saying, something inside of me unexpectedly reared up.
I finally blurted out an answer.
I told her that sometimes, people have to make those less than desirable choices because they just do. Sometimes, things don’t get better without a lot of difficulty. Because easy does not always equal out to “right.”
Okay, so I wasn’t quite as eloquent as all that in the moment. It was more like, “something something…the right thing…something something…life is sometimes hard.”
But it’s the gist of it.
The butter to the bread.
Because it’s true.
Several pieces inside of me clicked in that moment. For the first time, I thought about what I really wanted for my children. What I really needed to be training them for in this fallen, broken world.
A life of ease? Or a life of fulfillment?
Do I want them to live in a bubble of cheap optimism, ease and happiness? A life that thinks that things will get better on their own or when someone else takes the reigns? Or do I want them to live a ferociously attuned life that doesn’t get batted around by the rhythms of this world?
Not having is easy means sometimes, you stand up for what is right even when it’s not the popular choice. Not having it easy means that sometimes, you travel on less than conventional roads because it’s right for you, and don’t do what everyone else is doing just because.
Not having it easy means that you will work hard in the beginning, for seemingly little in return, and the only reason that you will spend that time working is because you spend that time believing that one day, all of those hard moments will be redeemed when your hope is finally realized.
No, I don’t want my children to always have it easy, to always do the easy thing, always make the easy choice, just because it will help me put my head to my pillow and sleep that much easier at night.
My job is not to train my children for easy street. Not even a little tiny bit.
It’s the uncomfortable truth about parenting. It’s the moments that you don’t want to think about. For all of the days I wish I could escape from this circus of chaos, sticky juice stains and tiny shoes scattered across my downstairs, the truth is that I am not okay with the idea of my children growing up.
I’m even less okay with the idea of them meeting adversity along the way.
I also know that we can’t shrink back from telling the truth, especially to the ones we love: easy does not always equal out to right. Feelings are fleeting, but truth is eternal. We walk in truth. And there is a quiet dignity and a fierce sense of self that comes with doing so.
I believe that humans were made for more than easy street. And for the first time, I believe that also includes my children.