It's too long but I could have titled this post, “So incredibly mind-boggling, thrilling, and exciting to actually be able to talk about what really matters!" If there’s a tone of exasperated relief, it’s for good reason.
I am discovering late in my twenties what it means to genuinely connect with people on some of the most fundamental levels – mostly the levels of suffering and perseverance. And yes, most of these people with whom I’ve been able to connect with are parents.
Parenthood is the great equalizer I’ve discovered. It is The Job which no amount of education, no amount of preparedness, no amount of worldly prestige can prepare you for. On one hand the limits of your limits are stretched in ways you never believed possible, but on the other hand, your love is also multiplied. It’s a polarity as rewarding as it is exhausting.
Now I’m not suggesting that single people don’t genuinely suffer or have real substance to them. One of my closest friends is single. But it has become obvious to me as I get older and am busy with the job of homemaking (and laundry) that many people in like circumstances share a camaraderie that enables them to be more open about the more raw facets of their lives. And it’s so refreshing!
Having said that, I don’t remember feeling like I was making this connection with people when I only had one child and was still working. I may have just been too distracted with balancing home and work to notice other parents. But once the second one bounced into the picture (it was a quick labor) and I began staying home, the color of parenthood changed very quickly.
One parent phrased it so well when we were talking the other day, “Did you feel that things just became infinitely harder after the second one?” he asked. I said yes and my husband said no. Hmmm. Seriously, it definitely became incredibly difficult to juggle between the tantrum throwing two year old and the incessantly needy infant.
But there’s a certain something that happens when you do forfeit yourself for a greater, more admirable role (such as being a parent) and that is generosity. Maybe it’s just for having ‘been there’, but I am often amazed at another parent or grandparent’s willingness to help you in a crisis. Child having a melt-down? – Nearest mom offers to hold your coffee so you can discipline. Your snackies just spill all over the ground? – Nearest parent offers to keep an eye on your kid(s) so you can pick up the mess.
Often a moment of need is when the greatest honesty takes place, and parenthood tends to be one prolonged moment of great need – especially in public! But therein lies the chance to connect with someone, even just in conversation, concerning how they are doing with life, parenthood (if they are parents) and even sometimes faith. You know, about what really matters!
Now, I’m not advocating starting every conversation with one’s own story of woe. But if I ask someone, "How's it going?" I'm grateful if they feel comfortable enough to say, "Well it's been a little tough lately..." rather than the stock, "Good." Of course if things have been good I want to hear about it also! In short, I am all for becoming more and more “real,” which I equate with abandoning the nonsense that we often think so integral to the almighty “me.”
Ah, “me”…how quickly that disappears in parenthood. As my now three year old likes to sometimes remind me, “Your name is Mommy!” Yes, indeed it is now.
And so life, sacrifice, Faith, perseverance and genuine joy, – there is little else I want to talk about these days, and little else that really interests me. How wonderful it has been lately to discover the openness, no, thirst people have to connect on such fundamental levels – levels, essentially, where God is working in their lives! I love hearing about someone's experience of God even if was only momentary and I feel honored that someone would want to share it with me. As a result, friendship just feels differently to me now...it is more honest - and anyway I have very few worldly trappings on my person to discuss anymore, except of course, for the coffee stains that come from the splash-up while pushing the stroller...those special adornments just come with the territory!