“The rewards far outweigh the challenges everyday,” she said, a fellow mom of two young children, and she too can count her own challenges on a daily basis. I think she was speaking in hopeful suggestion, the careful answer moms give when push comes to shove and someone might be listening to see if she loves her job.

I respectfully disagreed. I’m not sure that’s true.

Right now, the challenges most often outweigh the rewards. There is lots of pushing, shoving, fighting, arguing, complaining, whining, fighting and destruction. All day long.

There is lots of wondering, waiting, worrying, negotiating, praying, and hoping. All day long.

There is lots of wishing I hadn’t just said that, or praying they won’t remember this, or wishing I could hand-write and carefully choose the childhood movie scenes they’ll take with them to adulthood.

There is lots of praying that God will fill in the gaps I left wide open today.

But then, when I’m not expecting it, they will hold hands on a walk. Or they will pray without prompting. Or use manners without reminders. Or play together without invitation. Or one will say, “He’s my brother and I like him.”

But those are the delicious meatballs on the mound of my spaghetti day. They are the best part, but they don’t make the entire meal.

For now, there are more challenges than there are rewards. The rewards are precious and so, so worth it… but they are not far greater than the hard moments in between.

But. BUT. I have my eye on the prize.

Because one day, they will be grown men. And one day, I will look at them through the eyes of someone who has just met them.

And in each of them I’ll see a man who is patient, kind, leading, genuine, and careful. And I’ll think, “Yep. That’s who he is. He does that now because we did that then.”

So today, I’ll stop complaining about the life stage, resenting the loss of my freedoms, imagining a different lifestyle, and wishing them to grow.

Because this is one good gig. Even if I could change it all, I wouldn’t change a thing.* Even on the hard days, my path is privileged.

I love you, sweet boys. We did okay today.

Previously published on Teaching Tuck and Ty, March 2010.

*”Even if I cold change it all, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Nine months later, everything would change.

And now, two years later, there’s a list of things I’d change.

Still, I stand by my original assessment: “Even on the hard days, my path is privileged.”

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