Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feeling the Pain


Holy Rip the still beating heart out of my wintry pale Seattle chest and feed it piece by dripping piece to a voracious pack of bloodthirsty hyena's Batman, this parenting gig is H.A.R.D.

I know what he means, you may be thinking. Is it...

The late night wakings? No I can handle those, but mostly in a Zombie like trance.

The potty training? Not so much really. I don't normally brag about this but I have worked with a lot of poop in my life.

Toddler tantrums due to hunger or lack of sleep? I can't say these don't exist, but the ones we do experience have been...um...tollerable. Not the horror stories I have heard and at times even witnessed. Plus, these are good practice for dealing with the likes of contractors and even certain co-worker types.

The noticeable reduction in personal time and personal space? Hey, I became a first time dad at nearly 40 years of age. I've pretty much done a bit of everything. Plus, without a child I would just be sitting around waiting to die anyway. Alright, alright yes, of course I could use more time for me, as we all probably can. But honestly, that doesn't make parenting hard.

No, what makes parenting so hard for this particular dad has to do with the concept of loving my kid too much. Can't be done, right? Yes, I agree. However, lately it seems that I have become so invested in my sons well being that it actually pains me more than ever to see him hurt, or upset, or even simply frustrated that he can't get his way. That life is not always fair.

Specifically, I witness the desire within him to 'experience' life to its fullest at every moment. And when roadblocks are thrown up, roadblocks such as bedtime, meals, or learning to share it can be emotionally painful for him. And by proxy, me too. And the older he get the more it seems that I am highly tuned into this pain of his. That when he is in physical, or emotional pain I too am experiencing a palpable degree of my own.

No, this doesn't mean that I, or Mrs. LIAYF, always give in and appease these feelings in order to make him feel better. Like all parents, we do this on occasion but those occasions are only exceptions. It is our duty as parents to strike a workable balance for him between experiencing life to the fullest, and growing up a strong, safe, happy, and healthy boy. And striking that balance correctly, means understandably tough decisions. It means not always giving Lukas that one thing which we know will make him happy in the moment.

And that, to me, is the essence of what makes parenting H.A.R.D. But, as painful as it can be, it is still the best job in the world.
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I'm just hoping that the empathy pains diminish at least a bit as he becomes older.

17 comments:

Lady Mama said...

It'll diminish when he becomes a teenager and starts groaning and grunting because you won't let him stay out all night!

Chris said...

Yeah that's always a balance really good parents have to struggle with.
I know what you mean by loving him so much and you can't bear to seem them get hurt. I love my kids more and more each day and yet because I love them I have to set boundaries for them, but trying really hard to say yes as much as possible.

Ed said...

Eventually exhaustion will get the better of you. You'll stop feeling it for just a moment, realize what you've just done and guilt will take over. It's a cycle.

SciFi Dad said...

Part of being a parent is letting your kids fail, even when you know you can prevent it.

I agree, it's probably the hardest thing.

Teri said...

Yes, you are so right. We want everything for our kids and then we want some more. I hate when my kids are or appear to be suffering, breaks my heart!

Jack said...

I wonder about the empathy pains too. My oldest is 9 and I always feel badly when things don't go well for him.

But if you don't teach your kids how to deal with bad times you end up crippling them.

Eric said...

yeah it gets easier as they get older and as the number of children increase in population.

Captain Dumbass said...

Wait til he comes home with that first dent in the car.

Steve said...

Sorry James but I really don't think it gets easier at least for the next few years. My heart aches to see my son upset or afraid.

Slamdunk said...

It sounds like you are rolling with the punches well.

I agree as an a more "senior" father that I am not missing much of the personal time--investing it in our children is much better and brings greater results.

PJ Mullen said...

I totally get you on this. At times little man drives me nuts testing his limits, but I know it's all part of him trying to figure out this crazy world he lives in.

Keith Wilcox said...

I completely agree. The hardest part of being a parent is saying no when you'd really like to say yes instead. We do it because it's right, not because it makes us temporarily feel good. That's same fine parenting there, LIAYF! :-)

DC Urban Dad said...

It is so easy to say Yes. We have friends that don't know the word No. The long term damage of too much Yes outweighs the current pain of No.

DC Urban Dad said...

It is so easy to say Yes. We have friends that don't know the word No. The long term damage of too much Yes outweighs the current pain of No.

john cave osborne said...

per usual, great job. your perspectives always ring true to me.

look at it this way, if you didn't vicariously feel all the pain, you probably wouldn't feel all of his joy, either.

it is, indeed, the best job in the world.

ZenMom said...

Great post.

A Free Man said...

I'm with you on this 100%. I've got this new found empathy for the boys that I just don't know what to do with. SOmetimes interferes with doing the right thing as a parent.