Lessons from Parenthood – Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture
I was taking a walk through our property the other day with one of my kids. It was a gorgeous day. We live in the middle of 40 heavily wooded acres. I realized as we were walking that I was staring at our feet. All I could see was dirt, sticks, and rocks. There was nothing special about it.
Here’s what I saw (Please bear with me, I am not a photographer and I took these photos on my phone.):
It’s not ugly really, but it isn’t beautiful either. This is what I usually look at when we go for a walk. Then, I happened to look up, and I stopped in my tracks.
I could hardly believe that I was staring at my feet when I was surrounded by the kind of scenery that makes up postcards, is the background for a hundred fantasy novels, and usually is only found in a national park. How could I have missed this? The truth is I don’t usually miss it, but many times when we are walking around our property I’m looking down at a little kid, trying to help them over logs or drag them away from stinging nettle.
Staring at Our Feet
Parenting is a lot like taking a walk through the woods. It is a journey. A journey that we don’t always know the end destination or all the obstacles we are going to have to travel through. We come upon dangers we never expected, but we also see beauty we’ve never experienced.
Sometimes on that journey, we get stuck looking at our feet.
There are meals to prepare, dishes to clean, laundry to be washed, floors to be mopped. In the midst of all that, there are children fighting, drawing on couches, coloring on walls, and breaking family heirlooms. Every day is full of bumps, sticks, and bruises.
It is easy to get caught focusing on a to-do list because, frankly, there is a lot to do to keep a household running. Even more importantly, many of the tasks on that list have to get done for everyone to function in a somewhat normal way.
What happens when that is all we see?
We get overwhelmed, burnt out, frustrated, and disheartened. To be honest, I get a little crazy. I warn my kids that monster mom is about to come out.
But what if we could step back? What if we could see the big picture instead of the dirt?
Like my walk through the woods, parents have to look up. Stop focusing on the day-to-day tasks for a moment and notice the big picture. See the trees, the sunshine, the flowers, the butterflies, and even the bees (I don’t have a great relationship with bees).
What kind of journey are you and your family on? Is it the one you want to be taking?
Last night we were running girls to volleyball games. My husband and I had to go to separate locations because, of course, it would be too easy for them to play at the same place. It was chaotic, hot, and stressful.
When the evening was done, we were gathered together for scriptures and prayer. I looked into the faces of our kids and, despite the evening’s chaos, I could see the purpose of the beautiful journey. They had lost some games and won some games but they are learning. They are learning to play on a team. They are learning to handle defeat. They are learning to be good sports.
Looking up to see the journey can be hard because life can require a lot of parents.
Truth be told, when we walk through the woods I have to look down at our feet to make sure we are staying on a safe path, one that isn’t covered in stinging nettles. We have to take care of the mundane, boring tasks. We have to discipline our children so that they know right from wrong. It’s not always fun.
But let’s also take the time to enjoy the big picture, the beauty of being parents. We get to watch other human beings grow and learn through their whole life. I like watching flowers bloom and grow, think how much more amazing it is to watch a child.
The other night our kids were out riding bikes, scooters, and roller blades. I realized that I could stand and watch them forever. Hearing the laughter and giggles, the yelling at the dog for knocking someone down, the freak-out because a bee flew by – it’s the stuff that makes life great.
I love being a parent.
It is the single hardest, yet most rewarding adventure I’ve ever undertaken.
I’m quite sure that our “big picture” will be greater than anything I’ve ever seen. I just have to be patient and take the time to notice all the little brush strokes it takes to make it.