I love the NBC show “Parenthood.” I think it is incredibly well written, it is witty, all of the story lines are maintained so you always know what is going on.
But what I really love about it is that it portrays a real family – a family with all sorts of issues. It tackles divorce, grown children moving into their parents’ home with children of their own, Asperger’s Syndrome, interracial dating and marriage, single parenting, infidelity, crazy stay-at-home-mom pressures, crazy dad-at-work pressures; actually, just about everything.
Because last week was Thanksgiving, last week’s episode was the obligatory Thanksgiving episode. What I really loved about it was the very end. The four grown children were cleaning up the kitchen while listening to ’80s hip-hop and dancing around. I could very easily see myself, my brother and our spouses behaving in such a manner. I loved it.
Last week was also the week my intrepid sister-in-law flew home from Florida to Michigan with their two daughters under two and their dog, and then she packed up a rental car and drove down to visit us for five days. She did this because my brother, who is in the USCG, is underway and wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving.
Last week was also the week that good friend of mine spent the better part of her week in the children’s hospital with her son, who is experiencing some medical issues. They spent day and night, first in the emergency room, and then in the hospital, and then at home with a child in deep pain that she could do nothing about. Oh, and she has another son who is too young to understand; he just felt abandoned and cried whenever she would drop him off somewhere or pick him up.
Last week was also the last week another good friend got to spend with her husband before he deploys for the third time. It is true he will be home for a few more days at Christmas, but this is basically it until he returns home from deployment sometime next fall. Oh, and they have three gorgeous daughters until 10.
My point is in the midst of all of this craziness, I realized that every parent has their own perspective on parenthood.
I was praising my sister-in-law’s ability to pack up and move over a thousand miles from everyone and everything she’s every known, because that’s what my brother’s job demands. And she is thriving. She thinks she’s just surviving, but she is, in reality, thriving. And in the middle of the conversation, she said to me, “I don’t know how you parent with a migraine. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.”
She doesn’t know how I do it?
How does she parent with no support for three weeks at a time? My parents are at least within an hour’s drive and, if push came to shove, could come help me. She’s got no one when my brother is gone.
But she is in awe of me parenting our son when I’d rather be in bed with a throbbing migraine.
How does my friend deal with her ill child? I would be a hot mess if I had to spend days and days at the children’s hospital. She handles it all with remarkable humor and strength and an inner peace rarely seen in society these days.
How does my friend deal with her husband being gone for a year? I can’t hardly handle when Keith is gone for a 16 hour work day. She deals with everything, also with remarkable humor and strength and inner peace.
I guess all of us, all mothers and fathers, whether we work at home or work outside the home or are single or married, have our own unique perspective. I’m sure I deal with things (I don’t know, let’s say, adoption) that some of my mom friends must wonder how I do it, just like I wonder how they do it. I think God gives us what we can handle, even when we feel like we’re at the breaking point. Then He gives us the strength to do what needs to be done.
It is true that parenting an active little boy when I have a killer migraine is no fun. It is true there are days where I just grit my teeth and power through until nap time, when I can lay down & let my meds kick in. And I bet there are women who couldn’t handle that.
But it is also true, I bet, that if I were a fly on the wall in the homes of all of my friends, they would deal with things that I couldn’t handle.
This is why the competition between parents – mothers, especially – astounds me. Why don’t we just respect each other? We all have the hardest job in the world – rearing productive members of society! And we all do it with our own, well, handicaps, for lack of a better word.
We are each dealing with our own issues – keep that in mind before you think about judging someone else in a negative way. Look at your friends. Look at their lives and their individual things going on. I bet if you do, you’d gain a whole new perspective. I certainly did last week…