Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with a good friend over coffee. (Well, ok, we dove into chatting so quickly that I forgot to get up and actually order a caffeinated beverage. A sign of a great conversation, but I now feel obligated to go back to the Local Coffeeshop and buy a ridiculously tall mocha and leave a $12 tip. Ah, Catholic guilt.)
Our conversation eventually turned to the topic of parenting, namely, the reality thereof. She wanted to know how things were with S, how motherhood was treating me these days. And I gave her the update, which was mostly good. But then I stopped and said, “You know? It’s really hard some days, too. Like it can really suck. Sometimes I lose my patience and my temper and I find myself yelling at a toddler and trying to stuff chunks of cheese in his mouth so he would JUST FINISH HIS #*%@ LUNCH AND STOP FEEDING IT TO THE DOG.”
Parenting teaches me humility. It brings out all my flaws and faults and force me to deal with them. Which, yes, I recognize to be a good thing in the long run and undoubtedly a positive for my spiritual growth. But dang it, when I’m running on little sleep and I have tons of work to do and the child just will not go down for a nap, I can admit I do not CARE one wit about my spiritual growth. (Also, undoubtedly, one of the times that said spiritual growth matters most.)
My friend, who doesn’t yet have children, laughed and said she appreciates hearing the reality of what raising children is like. That our culture can paint a picture of parenting that’s all sunshine and rainbows and well-behaved babies in adorable outfits that bring Absolute Fulfillment to Your Life, along with a side of Bliss and Happiness. So she appreciates when people admit that parenting is tough, that they don’t have all the answers, that it’s certainly amazing and fulfilling but also a lot of really hard work and long nights and colicky babies and poopy diapers and temper tantrums.
I could not agree more. As a new parent, I feel so relieved whenever someone else admits that they struggle with the reality of parenting – what it entails, what it demands. We don’t do each other any favors when we say it’s all peaches and cream. It’s tough and we need help to do it well.
I appreciate honest voices when it comes to parenting, and I appreciate truthful perspectives when it comes to the world of theology and ministry as well. Especially honesty that weaves in humor.
One of the friends I met along the journey of graduate theological studies does just that in her blog, What’s Up, Jesus? As a newly ordained pastor (and all-around hilarious commentator), she shares her thoughts on theology, the church and life in general. If this post on not being Jesus-y enough isn’t honest and hilarious enough to suck you in, I don’t know what is.
Her blog offers a great list of books she’s reading (which always makes me feel like I’m not reading enough, but is also a wealth of inspiring suggestions). I’m also inspired by her current effort to live a true Sabbath, which seems extremely attractive yet also a terrifying prospect.
So if you’ve ever wondered if you should have a passion, or whether your pastor really appreciates your feedback on the Sunday sermon, check it out. We need more honesty and humor in this world – from pastors as well as parents.