Being a parent is incredibly rewarding and fills my heart with joy. Being a parent is also heartbreak waiting to happen. It starts when they’re infants and you have to let them “cry it out”. Then, they become toddlers, develop separation anxiety and cry when you leave them at daycare.
It doesn’t stop when they get older. Next it’s a bully on the playground or feeling scared of the Dentist. My heart seriously can’t take it when my kids are sad. Whether their sadness of the moment is rational or not, I hate that they feel insecure for even a minute.
One afternoon recently, I was chatting with my daughter about her school day. She shared with me that sometimes at recess she doesn’t have anyone to play with and she cries. Oh-my-goodness, my eyes filled up with tears instantly. You see, my precious daughter has needed some extra time to develop her social skills. She’s the sweetest, happiest, most fun little girl I’ve ever known. She’s just a little unsure of herself with her peers. She has come a long way, and God has always brought her good friends to play with at school. So when she shared this with me about recess, I was surprised, and my heart broke for her. (Naturally, I spoke with her teacher, and together we helped my daughter engage with friends at recess.)
Meanwhile my 4 year old had her own little heartbreak going on last week. She started swimming lessons. She was super confident going into it, but as her first lesson progressed, her confidence began to dwindle. She never fully recovered after being dunked, and she accidentally swallowed water, several times. From that point on, her lower lip trembled, and she had to try hard not to cry. She’s my little lamb, and very sensitive. On this day, she tried very hard to be brave, and did everything they asked her to do. All the while, however, she was sad. I just wanted to scoop her up, snuggle her and tell her she didn’t have to do it anymore.
Someone recently said to me that kids experiencing sadness is just a part of life, and it’s good because then they know (by comparison) when they feel happy. Another perspective that I hold near and dear to my heart is this – when our children experience heartbreak or sadness, it’s an opportunity to teach them about prayer and relying on God. All their lives, if my girls were sad, mad or got an owie, we have prayed with them. Just a quick prayer, nothing fancy. Now that they are a little older, I want them to learn to pray by themselves, without me. I won’t always be with them when they are having a hard time, and I want them to develop their own personal relationship with Jesus. I tell my girls about how Jesus wants them to talk to Him, all the time! He wants to be their best friend. If they’re sad, or frustrated, scared, mad or thankful…they should talk to him about it. “Talking to Him” is just another way to refer to prayer. Praying to Him as soon as they get that boo-boo, asking Him to make it feel better. Praying to Him when they feel frustrated because they can’t find a favorite toy. Ask Him to help, and to make you feel happy again.
I know my kids need to experience challenges in life so they can develop the skills to handle challenges in life! If life was perfect for our children all the time, then they would expect it to be perfect all the time. And we all know that’s not how life is. We have God on our side, but we live in a world that is messed up, and we are going to experience heartbreak and disappointment sometimes. Without a doubt. Thankfully we have someone to cry out to for comfort and to make beauty out of an otherwise ugly circumstance.
The same is true for me as a Mom. It’s hard to watch your kids struggle or feel sad. I, too, have to lean on God and pray for His peace and guidance. If my heart hurts for my kids, it’s because I have such a deep love for them. That’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so blessed I get to experience the joy of being a parent. The good times, and the heartbreaking ones.