The Insanity of Parenting: In Defense of Mundane Thursday Afternoons

Lego

This time last week my house was loud. And it was messy. Now, the mess is gone. And so is the noise. Christmas break is over.

For a lot of parents this is a good thing. They finally get to hand their kids back to the school and enjoy a little quiet and cleanliness.

Quiet and cleanliness are overrated.

There’s a certain measure of insanity that comes with parenting. If you think you have disciplines like patience and self-control conquered, have a kid. If you already have a kid and feel like you’re still patient and self-controlled, stop reading this and write a book for the rest of us.

No one is better than a kid at reminding you that you are insane.

I got to ski with my kids over Christmas break. On their first day they kept falling down. A lot. One of my kids was acting like one of Johnny Knoxville’s friends. He was wrecking everywhere. In the safety net on the side of the trail. In the ditch under the trail. Getting on the ski lift. Getting off of the ski lift. Driving daddy home from the slopes.

Made that last one up.

I was frustrated. Of course, I never let it show. I’m a pastor after all and pastors can’t show frustration. So I kept my pastor look on the outside to hide the Eminem inside of me as I tried to pick my kid out of some net. The boy has only been walking for five or six years and I expected him to ski with no problem on his first try.

Insanity.

A friend could see through my pastoral veneer to my inner Eminem. He spoke softly while I struggled to get my son free.

“One day, you’re going to miss this.”

He was right. That was only a couple of weeks ago. I wish we could go back.

That’s the other insane thing about parents. The way we look forward to things and the way we remember them. When we look ahead, it’s always the big picture.

Christmas break.

Summer vacation.

Trip to Disney.

And we fix our eyes on those big events to help us get through the mundane.

“Only 120 more days until we get out of here and head to the beach. Woohoo!”

The beach comes and goes and so we begin looking ahead to the next major break. But have you noticed that we never look back that way? No one says that there favorite part of vacation was vacation. Details are always included when we look back. And our favorite details, the ones that we’ll never forget, are usually the unplanned and seemingly insignificant ones.

Like teaching your son how to play Uno.

Or trying to fish out a Lego from underneath the dresser.

Or seeing the look on your kid’s face when he finally gets skiing.

This is the insanity of parenting. Living from one mountain top experience to the next, never paying attention to what is happening around us in the valley. The mountain top experiences are good. But they don’t usually come with details and those memories that stick with you.

Those usually happen on mundane Thursday afternoons while you’re counting down the days until summer vacation.

“Only 120 more days until the beach! Woohoo!”

Great. But life is happening today. Right in front of you. It’s happening in the tiny fingers that just aren’t quite long enough to reach that Lego under the dresser.

So the next time your kid loses a Lego or gets caught in some netting or doesn’t demonstrate the best aim in the bathroom, just stop.

Stop and enjoy the details.

Today’s details are tomorrow’s memories. Hopefully, memories that will make you smile.

And maybe even lessen your insanity.

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