Bless his heart, my youngest son recently told me that he thought I was nicer when I was first married. (Now how would he know, since he wasn’t even born yet?) Apparently he came to this conclusion from watching our wedding video.
My first thought was, “Well, smarty pants, that’s what happens when you have kids. They turn perfectly good adults into ogres!”
As I thought more about it I realized he had a point that it’s easier to be nice when you have less responsibilities and things to worry about. But like the “Psychological Journey of Marriage” addressed in my book (p. 272) you start out being happy and nice, then when the responsibilities and sometimes overwhelming demands of marriage or parenting come along it takes some real effort and time to grow through the challenges.
But as we accept the challenges inherent in parenting — to be stretched and pushed and pulled to overcome our weaknesses, the happiness and joy that results is much greater and deeper than if we had avoided the tough terrain. It’s worth the pain of personal growth that parenting (and marriage) require.
Children have a way of finding any rough edges that our spouse may have inadvertently overlooked (since they are also good at finding our flaws), and will naturally create neon signs to draw our attention to the things we need to work on, in hopes that we’ll do something about them.
If we will allow it, children can play a vital role in our purification process. When they get done with us, we will hopefully have let go of many of our rough edges, and will have greatly increased our patience, endurance, humor and our capacity for deeper love and joy.
I guess this is why marriage and parenting are so important in our earthly experience to lead us along our journey towards wholeness.
Like marriage, parenting may not be easy, but it is worth it. I just have to keep reminding myself of that when this little son of mine decides to make another mommy observation.