Good Problems To Have

Sometimes life is just hard. It can come in waves. For me, this past week was emotionally draining, to say the least.

I have the sweetest, ever-smiling almost-5-year-old daughter, Josie. She is always busy. Always. She has been my busiest, most active child out of the 7 that I have. It started when she was about 18 months old. She learned to walk really late because her feet were slightly turned in. Once she started walking, it’s like a light turned on in her brain that said, “Get that Sharpie marker and color on the freshly painted walls”. Or “Open the Superglue and smear it on your lips like lipstick”. Or “Find Big Sister’s paints and paint on Mom’s pillowcase”. That was all before the age of 2. She was the one when, after the birth of our 7th baby, I told my husband in exasperation, “I feel like a new mom. I have no idea how to parent her.” Everything that worked with the others did not work with Josie. We have had to learn to be very creative with her. Spankings don’t work. Separation (time-out’s) do work, for the most part. But how often can a child be separated without them feeling alienated and unwanted? It’s so hard, this parent-thing.

What was so difficult this past week was not only that Josie had a rough week (constantly interrupting Mommy the few times I was talking with adults or constantly interrupting with absurd, weird noises when Mommy is trying to read out-loud for school), but I realized that my oldest son, Andrew, is no longer my little child. I know, I should have realized that he was all grown-up when he was 18 and joined the Navy in October 2010. Or when he got married in December 2011. Or when he announced that he was going to be a Daddy this past July 2012. You’d think that I would have “gotten it” any of those times, but it didn’t hit me til this week when he emailed me from his ship, asking me to book a flight for him to see his wife in California for his one-week leave.

Andrew is going to drive 9 hours to our house so that he can store his car here during his upcoming 10-month deployment. (*Update: Turns out that he is storing his car at my parent’s house and flying out of Knoxville instead*.) Then he will spend his 7 days of leave visiting his 32-week pregnant wife in California. They only have 7 days together. Me, being MOM, asked my husband about the flights. ‘Do you think we should get him a flight that leaves to California at, like, 7am? Or should we get him a flight that leaves later in the afternoon so we can all spend a few hours with him?’ My husband said, “Brenda, he needs the earliest flight to California. He needs to be with Kristal.’ My Mommy brain says, “Not fair. He’s my son. This is too hard.” But I know deep down inside that being with Kristal, not Mom, is the right thing to do.

I cried a lot alone on my bed. Mike comforted me as best he could and helped me realize that this is the natural cycle of life. I knew it was. I always have. And there will be more tears when my other six children leave home to start their own families.

Do you know what eased my pain? Realizing that these “problems” are good one’s to have. I think about the orphan in Africa that does not have a chance for survival. This problem is wrong. I think about the 14-year-old child who lives in a filthy crib in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, weighing the same as my 2-year-old. This is wrong. I think about the mother who is abused and living in abject poverty and cannot care for her children. This is wrong. Some things in life are simply hard, Like parenting a difficult child or saying good-bye to a grown son. But even though it is hard, it is not wrong. It is not unjust. It is an easy life. I am so blessed.

I thought that I had a rough week, but this past week was unbearably painful for the mothers of the 150,000 children who died of starvation and diarrheabecause of lack of food and clean drinking water. Thousands of graves were dug from the earth and I complained about a healthy child that annoyed me. Forgive my impatience, Jesus! Lord, help me to keep my focus on You, the blessings You have given me, and even the “good problems” I live with each day.

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About Brenda Weatherly

Christian wife and mother to 7 children. Board of Directors at Center of Light, Team Leader of Woodlawn Refugee Ministry.
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