What did I stress about before kids?
Of course there were things to stress about, I just seem to forget what they were. Or, they don’t seem to be as big a deal in hindsight as they felt at the time.
Oddly enough, I remember that many of my worries, stressors and strife before having kids emanated from the desire to simply have them.
And now that they’re here? It turns out there’s a lot more to stress about when kids are here and real versus when they were dreamed about and hoped for.
We can mistakenly tell ourselves that peace or joy are on the other side of this-or-that fulfillment. But usually what we find is that every benefit brings with it more things that could possibly go wrong, more things that could be worried about.
Are blessing and stress two sides of the same coin?
A mentor of mine gave me wise words when I first became a mom: Be careful that you don’t let your blessings become burdens.
After having spent countless hours in prayer and having waited years for children, it was hard for me to understand fully what he meant. How could these little miracles become a burden?
It didn’t take long for me to find out.
The love I have for my children is about the only thing that eclipses the burden I feel for them. It takes different forms depending on the day — fatigue in raising them, responsibility in forming them, and sometimes the worry when things aren’t all right.
The blessing of children does not come without added challenge.
And most blessings work this way.
A job promotion usually brings with it more work, more responsibility, more expectation.
A star role on a team means more weight on the shoulders.
A new house or car or toy means a new house or car or toy to take care of.
Was Notorious B.I.G. actually right? “Mo Money Mo Problems”?
It turns out that blessing and stress might actually live on different sides of the same coin after all.
What we forget is that we don’t have to leave it up to chance whether we land on heads or tails — grateful or fearful, burdened or joyous.
We get to choose where to focus and what to magnify.
My mentor was right. We have the power to choose what we want our children, our possessions, our gains (or losses) and much of our lives to be.
Just the other day, I stood in my kitchen watching those children he had been referring to. At the time I first met them, I couldn’t imagine those 4-pound babies to be anything but a blessing. But now they were covered in Play-Doh and magic marker and dirt from my yard. It had been a good day, but all I could think about was cleaning them up for bedtime. Along with my kitchen and my floor.
Instead of reveling in the joy of young kids and long summer days, I was lamenting the petty inconvenience of cleaning up their messes.
What blessings have you let become burdensome?
The beauty in all of this is that with one small decision, we can make a major shift in seeing things another way.
We get to choose what we look for — the undeserved good or the exhausting difficult. We get to choose whether we talk about the joy or the challenge. We get to choose whether we embrace or spurn the responsibility.
We get to choose where our energy goes.
Ultimately, we get to flip the coin and decide which side we see — blessing or burden.
Let’s choose well.
Theresa Meacham’s column appears Wednesdays in The News-Gazette. She can be reached at theresam