But when you boil it all down, I think what makes parenting so hard isn't the sleep deprivation, constant neediness, errant behavior, peer pressure, safety worries, or any of the other things we think of when we think of parenting difficulties.
What makes parenting hard is LOVE.
The deep and abiding love we have for our children is what drives the vast majority of our frustrations, fears, and freak-outs. Truly.
When a baby's not sleeping well, that's hard. But what really makes it hard is that we love them too much to just ignore them or sleep through their wailing.
Changing diapers stinks, but love compels us to do it anyway.
Worrying about them is hard, but we worry because we love them. Dealing with their weird behaviors can be hard. But it's hard because we want them to be happy and successful. Why? Because we love them.
If it weren't for love, we could just let them do whatever they're going to do and not worry about it. We could ignore them when they cry, let their troubles roll off our back, and spend their music lesson money on a new Mercedes without a second thought.
So when parenting gets tough, LOVE is really the core of the problem.
And the beautifully ironic truth is that, when parenting gets tough, LOVE is also the solution.
How cool is that?
So as I'm sitting here trying to wrap up this post, my 4-year-old is half sitting on me, singing the alphabet song at the top of his lungs, right in my ear, in his underwear. And I'm feeling annoyed and frustrated because I just want three more minutes to solidify my thoughts and get them down before they vanish. Three minutes. Is that really too much to ask?
But then I remember why I'm even writing this blog. Because I'm a mom, and I love being a mom. I love this little boy in his skivvies, I love that he's singing the alphabet song, and I love that he wants to be close to me. Even in this moment of minor annoyance, love is at the heart of it.
Love is the question and the answer, the ailment and the cure, the problem and the solution.
And with that little head-spinner, I leave you with this lovely thought:
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
- Daphne Rae (often wrongly attributed to Mother Teresa)