In the (joyful) trenches of family-raising

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With so much gravity in the news and while waiting for information to come out of the bishops’ synod on the family I found myself reflecting on the things that have surprised me about having children.

I’m sharing them because I’m sure many readers will relate, and a bit of fun is so good for the soul.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

St Philip Neri, the so-called humorous saint, apparently said that “a heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad”.

So, in the interests of becoming more perfect, these are some aspects of our parenting that, while not always a laugh at the time, are quite good to recall.

• The way junk food items pop up (with bad spelling) on our shopping lists, and, later, completely random objects appear in the shopping trolley.

• That I would learn to mend clothes, and drive a seven-seater car.

• How knowledgeable I would become about ticks and head lice and how to remove them.

• How many love letters and notes and drawings we would get.

• That a large portion of the winter months would basically be a time of virus-enforced house arrest for us and virtually every other family we know with young children.

• How much I would refer to my children in the confessional.

• How quickly we bond with other parents who are in the trenches of family-raising.

• The huge thrill I would get from a four-loads-of-washing day in the height of summer.

• How close God would feel in our (mercifully few) most stressful parenting moments; a difficult moment during a birth, a toddler’s seizures, another child falling off a moving tractor.

• Just how many sausages we would cook, how many pairs of socks we would wash, how many car trips we would make in a regular week.

• That our children would enjoy leading us in praying the rosary.

• How four-year-olds can literally talk non-stop all day.

• That at least for the first few weeks of new motherhood I would love the sound of my newborn babies’ cries, even during the night.

• How despairing I could feel during the wakeful nights for about a year after that.

• How much I would love hearing the children reading stories to each other of their own volition.

• The alarming amount of junk food and soft drink a child can consume at a party if not properly supervised.

• The fact that you cannot trust grandparents to limit the children’s consumption at such parties.

• The intense level of supervision a toddler needs.

• How many of the things I used to want to do, or was attached to doing, quickly became irrelevant, such as eating at trendy restaurants.

• How absolutely crazy our children would make me, and how proud, and how quickly they would grow.