The Meaning of Children: Best of and Superlatives

The Meaning of Children

In May FDW hosted series on stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. It came out of a desire for me to hear from others, yes, how they make it through the day with littles who are Tasmanian devils bellowing demands constantly, but also how we make meaning of these relationships, these day-to-day struggles, these moments of grace.

And I wonder to myself: What is the meaning of children? Why do we have them? Why are they here? There are days I spiral down into a little bit of an abyss when it comes to the children and their almost manic moods – it feels like no matter how hard I’m trying to make sure everyone is appeased it feels like everything quickly slides into frustration and agony. Then I can’t wait for them to go to bed. I keep thinking – this really isn’t the way it’s supposed to be…is it??? And so I need words. I need stories. I need perspective.

And I was way floored by every essay – every comment – every story. Whenever I found myself shouting and yelling more often than not I would take a moment to read through a blog and it anchored me. Encouragement is an understatement. I was nourished and sustained by them and filled to the brim – overflowing – with enough to not only get through a particular hour but to lean in and love harder and better.

Instead of recapping all the blogs here I thought I would do a best of and superlative – of course, every post is unique and sublime in their own right – but if you want to start somewhere in this long list I hope this gives you a jumping off point:

Most Challenging
You Suck by Katie Mulligan

There are a thousand ways to say it, and our children find everyone one of them. They find the ones that cut deep and then they leave you there to bleed out.

You suck.

And it isn’t anything you’ve done. Not really.
And there isn’t anything you can do.
If you laugh they hate you more.
If you cry they loathe you for the guilt.
If you don’t react they’ll keep going til you do.
If you overreact, things can escalate. Things get said.

You suck.

Most Heartwrenching
Letter to Jonathan by Larissa Kwong Abazia

Dear Jonathan,

I’m writing you this letter trusting that I will be around to see your first day of kindergarten, watch you graduate from high school, and be a part of every single step in-between (and after!).  Writing to you during a time that you may or may not remember is important to me. I want you to know how you are an important part of my healing…

Most Practical 
My Wild Girl by Esther Emery

I love to tell my daughter this story, how she came into this world on her own schedule, not coaxed or guided, but barreling forward full speed and unafraid. I tell her that from the very first day she came into this world, she already liked to do things her own way.

The story is good for my daughter, too. When she hears it, she relaxes, and stops fighting whatever fight she’s fighting. She is very often fighting, my first daughter. She is often fists against the world, that wild girl.

Most Emotional 
Intimacy by April Hennessey

You’d be surprised how many near-holy moments happen in that small, liminal space of our house. Perhaps it’s simply because my defenses are worn down—from the day’s unrelenting pace and my son’s indefatigable energy—that I am left open to all the things that well up in and around me. I’ve sat in that hallway more times than I can count, slumped in despair, wondering how I’ll survive the year of the #threenager, cradling my son’s tantruming body, watching the minutes that I’d carved out for peace and quiet just tick by me tauntingly. And then it happens. “I’m ready,” he says. We walk to his bed where he cuddles up to me with his tear-streaked cheeks and says, “I like being close to you, mommy.”

Most Honest
Bad News by Rocky Supinger

…My own badness comes out of her too. The other day she professed a serious resolve to be “more normal.” I nearly blacked out from the visceral identification with that desire and the searing awareness of the cruelty and loss it engenders. Right away I imagined my angel standing silently by as friends jeered a classmate, as I had done countless times, all for the sake of “normal.”

The good news, though, is that our kids will perform acts of courage and moral fortitude of which we are not capable, and they will do these, again, despite our parenting inputs…

Best Vision
What Do You See? by Anna Ross Bruce

Time passed and I began to slowly ease into a new normal, with so much help from my husband, family, friends, and loving congregation.  Now every morning when we get her up, Jeff and I take Abbey to her bedroom window and open the blinds.  Some days it’s raining.  Other days the sun is coming up in hues of neon pinks and oranges.  She looks with awe and wonder at the world outside her window.  And she also likes to play with the blinds, but I like to tell myself she’s mainly looking out the window.

Three writers of heartfelt, encouraging books on parenting also blogged for the series and are absolutely worth checking out:

When We Do It Wrong by Traci Smith
Blessed in the Mess by Rachel Gerber
Everything Wrong by Laura Kelly Fanucci

Thank you again to all the writers, and for you, readers, too, for encouraging us along the way.

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