January 14th: What do I love most about being a parent?

This question was handed to me last night. It was too good to pass up, despite the fact that it its original context, it was an ice-breaker at a mom’s night out for my children’s preschool. My original response is too lame to describe here. Like so many writers, I do better when I have a little time for things to percolate. I find ice-breakers extremely disconcerting, and responses to ice breakers little more than superficial social posturing. But as I reflected on this question further today, I found its incredible value.

This is not going to be a popular opinion, but there’s an awful lot about parenting (especially parenting three children who were born within 20 months of each other) that just isn’t fun. There’s a lot of drudgery, and only glimmers of reward. Raising children is sort of like burying a timecapsule. You put in an assortment of items that you hope will be significant later, and then put it away. Years down the road, if you’re around when your timecapsule enters the world, you might get to enjoy the novelty of finding out whether you put in anything worthwhile.

I love this question because it directs our attention toward the positive. There is a lot to love about family life. And regardless of the physical and emotional challenges, I am both enamoured with and delighted by my children. As I kept this question at the forefront of my mind today, I found that the moments that I had with my children were more positive. There was more fun, more conversation, and more laughter–at one point, hysterical, giggle-fit laughter–with my twin toddlers. I found connection with my children as I kept looking out for what I loved about our time together, and evaluating these wonderful moments against each other. This is one of the most valuable type of questions–the kind that opens us up to the positive and impacts our lives in meaningful ways.

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