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Smile About Being a Parent Again

Nothing brings a smile back to parents’ lips quite like the reminder of those first few moments when they first held their newborn child. The delivery could have been excruciating. The stress and worries could have been out of this world. But when that newborn baby looked up at his mother and father, something clicked, and it made the adults in the room smile.


It is that moment that I like to remind parents about when I speak to them from the podium or on a podcast. And the reason is simple—at that moment, they saw things with fresh eyes.


Suddenly there were possibilities. Suddenly problems had solutions. And suddenly, what seemed meaningless and daily, was full of purpose and passion.


But here is the key thing I try to get across: parenting—no matter the age of your child or the difficulties you currently face—can still be exciting and full of purpose.


To get there, however, it is important that we learn from our former and younger selves.


Because the fact is, when our kids were really young, we naturally rejoiced in the little things, and we can do so again.


“Look what he just learned!” we would tell our friends.

It is a matter of a simple choice: I can either allow my work, my fears, my struggles, and my adult problems to become all consuming, or I can stop right now and look my child’s next first. As far as I am concerned the choice is easy. Look where you love and discover what new thing God is doing there.

As far as I am concerned the choice is easy. Look where you love and discover what new thing God is doing there.


New parents are known for bragging about their kids’ accomplishments, whether it is a first step, a first word, or even the first time that their little one pushed back with a stern but adorable, “No, I don’t want to.”


But over time, as life gets busy and we turn more and more to our own struggles, we parents tend to miss the next mountain they just conquered.


But we can prevent those oversights.


The more we connect with our kids and soak up their firsts, the more that smile starts to come back.


It is a matter of a simple choice: I can either allow my work, my fears, my struggles, and my adult problems to become all consuming, or I can stop right now and look my child’s next first.


As far as I am concerned the choice is easy. Look where you love and discover what new thing God is doing there.


Now that’s a good relationship.


Parents can tell you that children have the ability to reach people that you or I never could.


And while there is no empirical data on the topic, as far as I know, I am still willing to bet that you know it to be true as well.


Perhaps somehow your two year old can make the surly next door neighbour smile.


Or maybe your seven year old can get through to that family member that you have been at loggerheads with for years.


Regardless of the particulars of your experience, the general principle seems to be the same—kids can reach different people in different ways.


And you know what?


That too used to make you smile.


Knowing that your little one was in his or her own small way getting through to people (and often making their life better) pleased you immensely. And it should!


After all, you have a special hand in how this child interacts with others, and it is because of your influence (no matter how small or great) that she or he is out there healing the world one person at a time.


Now, think about your child today.


Is she helping people?

Does he have really good friendships?

Is she a rock for others?


These successes are your successes. Think about that and let that smile come back to your lips.


There’s still time you know.


What’s that phrase we parents throw around so much? Oh yes, it goes: they grow up so fast!


Well they do, or at least it appears so to us.


We start thinking about the few remaining Christmases we have together, or the last family trips that we can still take before they head off to college, and so much more. And when we begin thinking about our lives with our kids this way, we can’t help but get a little lump in our throats.


But the reality is that when we step back and look at our lives as parents, there is still so much more time that we have with our kids.


True, they won’t be little anymore, but that’s okay.


There are many, many years ahead when we can enjoy them as they walk through the ups and downs of life. There will be more celebrations. There will be more conversations. There will be lots of time to deepen the bond that you already have … if you want to.


Though raising children is hard, you and I both know that the time spent together brings countless smiles to our faces.


Imagine if you took just a few moments each day to remind yourself of this.


Imagine you stopped the work or the never ending list of chores in order to soak up your child.


What would you see?


My guess is that you would see the very thing you saw in the beginning when you first held your baby in your arms. You would see possibilities and meaning again. And I have no doubt that it would make you smile.



in Christ,


patrick

 

Patrick Sullivan is a Catholic Speaker and the President of Evango, a Catholic Media Organization that seeks to build a culture of Catholic evangelization and missionary discipleship. Patrick travels internationally to speak at Catholic events, parenting conferences, and to lead retreats and parish renewal missions. He is the creator and host of Me & My House, the Catholic parenting program that is transforming how we minister to parents in our dioceses, parishes, and communities. Patrick lives in beautiful Barry’s Bay, Ontario with his loving wife, Kyla, and their nine children.

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