(This post is written through tears. Please bear with me.)
Recently, I asked a wise friend of mine if conceiving a child via lots of scientific interventions made her less likely to get frustrated with that child. In other words, if you work harder to become a mom, do you treasure that kid more?
Because there are days I think that parenting is hard, maybe too hard, and maybe it'd be easier to not have that kid. Or days when I beg for a few days off, or wonder why in the world people ever choose to have more than two kids. How do they manage? How will I manage? So I wondered if someone had to work harder to conceive a child, would she have fewer of these dark thoughts?
"I know what bad days are," she said calmly. "These are not bad days."
I've been balancing that perspective for a year now as I watched another friend, Mary, as she has helped her young son Lachlan battle a rare form of leukemia. I wrote about their journey here and here. She is not a close friend (our paths cross rarely, though I wish they did more), but her story has touched me deeply and affected our entire community. It has also changed how I parent.
I still get those big feelings of frustration, of wanting to run away, of questioning our choices. But then I stop and soak in some perspective. I watch Mary find joy -- no, choose joy -- along with laughter, love and hope -- in her most difficult of all parenting situations. I sit with my friend who worked so hard for her babies, amidst her own personal struggles, and I soak in her calm understanding of what bad days truly are.
Sweet Lachlan died last night. This is a bad day.
I am not having bad days. Mary and my other friend have taught me that. In my world of privilege, I am gaining perspective. I will hug my babies tighter. I will choose joy over frustration, I will give more hugs. I will teach my children to spread joy. I have been blessed with these stories in my life to help make me a better person, a better mom, a better steward.
I weep with Mary and our entire community. I stand alongside my friends having fertility struggles. I will not take parenting lightly. I will choose joy. This is the best way I know to react.
Love and hope.