Unimaginably Hard, Inexpressibly Beautiful

“I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.”

 -Dr. Brene Brown

The other day I was at a birth… my client had decided to get an epidural and I was sent out of the room while the anesthesiologist placed it in her spine.  I sat in one of two chairs in the center of the labor and delivery wing, and a strange woman who had been haunting the hallways for the past four hours plopped down beside me.  She informed me that she was waiting for her surrogate to have her baby, a moment she had been waiting for her entire life.  She was wringing her hands, her anxiety palpable.

“Are you a mom?”  she asked.

“Three little girls,”  I said, smiling warmly, I tried to surround her in my calm energy, bring down her distress with my own breath.

“Is it hard?”  she asked a few quiet minutes later.


“No, being a mom.”

I squeezed her quaking hand.  I told her it was hard.  And marvelous.

“How?  How is it hard?”  she persisted, trying to gather her motherhood in her arms so she could greet her new babe with all of the secrets in hand.

I was called in to my client again before I could give her an answer.


Since the exchange, I have not stopped thinking about her question… it’s no mystery that parenting is hard.   We hear parents complain about the constant demands…the long sleepless nights, the crying babies, dirty diapers, public tantrums… there is a continuous demand for food preparation, cleaning pee off the bathroom floor, and endless, unrelenting mountains of laundry.


We hear people say how it’s the hardest job in the world.


But we don’t often talk about the true reasons that parenting will bring you to your knees.  It’s not the visible, factual, concrete parenting tasks that make it hard… though that is not to downplay the sacrificial nature of parenting and the bone-tiring work it entails.

It’s emotional.


It’s spiritual.


It’s not the self-sacrifice, but the self-awareness required that makes it the greatest challenge life can hand you.


Attaining the level of self compassion, self-love, and self forgiveness you need for parenting can be brutal and often, it seems impossible.   It requires you to tap into your instincts, tune in sharply to your intuition and honor yourself enough to trust it.

Parenting will push you to the very brink of your coping skills.  The very edge of your sanity.  The razor-thin line between commitment and escape.  Every day the insecurities, impatience, rage, hurts, fears and white-hot, uncontrollable, mind-blowing love bubbles to the surface.   Being a parent requires you to constantly wade through emotions and feelings and decisions in order to find the trail you are blazing.


Parenting forces you open, to look at your life, your beliefs, your own childhood.  To draw out all the good and call out all the demons and then decide how to proceed.


Parenting is hard.


Not because of the long, sleepless nights.

It’s hard because when you are holding your screaming baby in the middle of the night and you have absolutely no idea why,  there is no one there to save you.  That baby will look you in your eyes and plead for a relief you do not know how to give, and the inadequacy pierces your heart.


Parenting is hard.


Not because it is excruciating to feel your child’s emotional devastation when they are excluded from a group or being bullied at school.

It’s hard because their pain will drag up your deepest, darkest demons.  The moments you have felt rejected, unworthy… and you will have to face those old wounds again, address them, heal them…so you can help your child defend and heal herself.

Parenting is hard.


Not because of the danger that lurks at every turn, the impossible task of protecting them from every injury.

It’s hard because with the first cry that fills your heart with joy and relief, a vulnerability that you can not hide from is born. You are now forever connected to another human being in the most exquisite way, and the force of that connection is more powerful than you.  As parents we must choose to stand inside this emotional exposure with our arms open wide, unflinchingly give ourselves over to the risk of loving so big.


Parenting is hard.


Not because it is agonizing to watch your young daughter start to succumb to society’s idea of beauty and bodily perfection.

It’s hard because it is impossible to teach your child to love and appreciate their beauty and their magnificent bodies when we have not mastered the challenge.  Children are brilliant and sensitive and they can sniff out our deepest insecurities like a bloodhound on the hunt.  The awareness that we must believe in our own beauty in order to show them how to feel beautiful is not the only step. The application of the concept sometimes feels impossible, it asks us to overcome our deepest insecurities and patterns of self-loathing.

Parenting is hard.


Not because of the stress of children amidst the realistic dips in marital bliss, financial solvency, personal fulfillment.

It’s hard because in the throes of your deepest depression, biggest meltdown or darkest rage, we understand that we are showing our children how to navigate troubled waters, move through pain, stay open to life. Showing them grace and resilience in times where we are learning our own toughest lessons create the well our kids will draw from when they meet their own dark monsters.


Parenting is hard.


Not because your child fails to resist temptation and breeches your trust and brings you to a level of fury you didn’t know you could feel.

It’s hard  when we react by our own failure to resist the temptation to say all the emotionally heated, angry, frustration-fueled words that you can never suck back in.  And after losing that control, you are left to wonder if they will carry those words, like stones in their pockets, for the rest of their lives.

Parenting is hard.

Not because your kid throws a huge, monstrous tantrum in the car, kicking and screaming and crying, spreading misery to the whole family like a rampant virus.

It is hard because after slamming on the brakes, shouting and yelling and losing your cool to get them to stop, you will  recognize you just threw an adult tantrum of your own…and the expectation that they should be capable of more self-restraint that you are weighs heavy and shaming on your heart.

Parenting is  hard because it requires brutal self honesty. A willingness to marinate in our most painful inadequacies, voice our biggest fears, live in absolute unknown, and raise ourselves up to a different level of awakening.


We must be willing to look at ourselves in the mirror every day, and forgive it all.  Let it all go, pick up the pieces that have shattered inside you throughout the day, take a good look at where they came from, and then leave it behind.

And in the next day, we must unzip all our protective layers, and bare our soul to the morning.


But with the greatest vulnerability, comes the greatest a joy.  A force so vast, it cannot be named.  A wholeness to our lives that can not be contained.


Parenting is hard.


Unimaginably hard.


But also inexpressibly beautiful.


There is no means to understand what it is to love and be loved more perfect than in the relationship of parent and child.  Until I held my daughters in my arms, I had no real concept of how much I was loved by my own mother and father.  It was in the all- consuming, encompassing love for my babies that I could fully conceive of my own self worth.


That realization alone opened my soul to a whole different concept of


Love.  Magic.  Divine.


2 thoughts on “Unimaginably Hard, Inexpressibly Beautiful

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