Several years ago we were with two of our grown children and their young families in Southern Utah. Eight of our sixteen grandchildren at that time (all under 10) lived next door to each other amidst the splendor of the red cliffs in St. George.
Picture this: Breakfast with our oldest daughter’s Saren’s little family. The two year old identical twin boys Oliver and Silas, who had just graduated from their high chairs were eating an enormous breakfast at the bar. With their little elbows barely able to reach the top of the bar they were inhaling their food with great satisfaction and were begging for more. Four year old Eliza had already dawned her purple velvet princess outfit and was eating an enormous bowl of oatmeal (these kids’ metabolisms just kill me!) Five year old Isaac was giving everyone hugs and asking for help on reading his book before he left for school and precocious seven year old Ashton was on the computer in an adjouning room. He was hunched over the computer like a mad scientist when I went to get him to join us for breakfast and asked him what he was doing. Staring at the screen as though he was hypnotized and without looking up, he said, “I’m learning about Antarctica.” Sure enough, he had googled a map of the world and was looking at the amazing size of Antarctica. Obviously in another world!
When I finally coaxed him to join us, his mom asked him to tell us what he had learned the day before about black holes (he had been studying the Universe in his spare time). He matter-of-factly explained that black holes are enormous places in space that suck in everything around them. Whatever goes in never comes back out, nothing can escape…not even light!” Then he added as an afterthought, “No one knows what happens to what goes in there,” and quickly said in his most incredulous voice, “and who would want to anyway?!”
After a spontaneous laugh from all the adults, I was struck by the fact that “from the mouth of a babe” had come a perfect description that sounded exactly like the journey of parenting on some days! While trying to train them we are sucked in by crisis after crisis as we deal with the needs of each child all the while also being sucked in by responsibilities at church and in the community in addition to being a chauffer, chef and coach.
Sometimes it feels like a black hole as we mothers struggle through getting the kids out the door every morning with their backpacks….and shoes. We parents pour time and effort and money into our children’s music lessons and soccer and basketball leagues not to mention helping them progress through weird stages in their childhoods. I remember wondering in those “in the trenches” days of parenting if all I was pouring into them would ever come out!
Even though we may feel totally sucked in by parenthood, unlike that black hole, things DO come out, although sometimes in ways that we can’t anticipate. Nothing can compare with watching the delight on a teenager’s face when he or she goes to an orchestra concert and really appreciates the music, even though his/her own violin progress had been dismal…because this kid, through his painstaking hours of practice, knows what it takes to produce such a wonder! Nothing is better than seeing your child be kind to another child who is sad or left out because you taught him somewhere, sometime, how important it is to watch for those who look like they could use some help.
The next time your challenges seem too hard to bear and you wonder “who in the world would want to be a parent anyway”, remember that “The most important thing you will ever do will be in the walls of your own home” (Hugh B. Brown)… one gritty day at a time. Though the thousands of hours spent training children may sometimes seem like a black hole and there are days and even years when we could say about a child’s mind,, “No one really knows what’s in there,” we’re here to testify that light does eventually come out and nothing is better than when you see it!