Help! My Kids Bore Me!
In college when I was working toward my undergrad, I had a professor who was often candid with us. We were talking about raising kids while balancing college and careers and our professor told us that she took off a few years when her twins were born. She said it was great. She said it was well worth it. Then she said this, “One day I realized that I needed to hear someone say something other than choo-choo.” That’s when she went back to work.
It struck me. Hard.
My kids are amazing. I love them. They have wonderful personalities, diverse interests, and it’s fun watching them grow and learn. When our own twins were born a few years ago and I was in the middle of my first full-time teaching job, and life was, as it is for any large, young family, hectic with work, kids, and the daily monotony of the ho-hum, day-to-day. I realized something: I understood my college professor then more than any time ever.
Kids take a toll on a parent. It’s the hardest job in the world, and often it’s one of the most thankless ones. How come there’s Mother’s and Father’s Day? For the same reason there’s Teacher’s Appreciation Week and Nurse’s Appreciation Day. There are only sub-holidays like that because they’re for the underappreciated and underpaid members of society.
Standing at the trampoline with a cup of lukewarm coffee in my hand watching one of the twins, who are two, bounce, I was overcome with boredom.
Besides wondering if I was doing the right thing by allowing him to play on the trampoline, as reports of small children breaking their hips has recently inundated our newsfeeds, I was standing there thinking about the many other things I’d rather be doing. I could be in the kitchen visiting with my wife, talking with my parents who were visiting, and working on coursework for my Master’s degree. All things that would stimulate my mind more than watching a two year old bounce on the trampoline and whine that he keeps falling down.
The gospel permeates every part of our lives. Although the reference isn’t in line with how it’s used in scripture, it holds true, a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. The gospel, like a yeast, works through life through and through.
Standing at the trampoline feeling frustrated at the amount of work I had to do, all the responsibilities I had, all the self-important “things” I wanted to do in order to feel accomplished, I remembered something about how the gospel and my current situation of raising a large, young family are able to converge.
The gospel tells me this: Jesus died for the sins of all people. And he didn’t have to do it.
As Jesus was self-sacrificing, and encourages me to do so, I must be looking at parenting as a self-sacrificing opportunity.
Sacrifice as an Opportunity
Not being able to spend all my time working, or visiting, or serving myself in some other way is a good thing. The last thing we need in this life is another adult who is adult in name only. Children are selfish. Teenagers, which I call adolescent children, are selfish. Adults are not.
Jesus gave his life so I can enjoy the benefit of the gospel. Not just a message, but a living organism feeding me in symbiotic fashion.
When my children need me, even though watching them jump on the trampoline, or draw, or play with trucks — all rather boring things — I get to grow in sacrifice. It’s an opportunity for me to watch my kids develop, and I get to grow in patience and love and selflessness. It’s less about me being bored and my preference to do something more intellectually stimulating. It’s about connecting with the gospel inside me, being like our supernatural hero, Jesus, and giving love, patience, and sacrifice to another part of myself–my children.
We all have to work and we all need time to do the things that make us tick, but there’s a divine balance that must be put to work. Our families are important, just as our work and social lives are important. With life comes opportunities to do it all, and we can do it all in the proper seasons.