I say that in a "my kids are wearing me the heck out" kind of way.
We've got terrible twos and ferocious fours and nobody wants to take naps except mom around here, even the 10 month old baby, for crying out loud!
We've got tantrums and whining, arguing and saying, "I don't love this," to anything that doesn't sound just peachy.
And I've got s-t-r-e-s-s!
As I held my writhing, wriggling, screaming, "let me go" toddler for about ten minutes until he calmed down, I tried to remember wise words I read years ago in a book on positive discipline called "Taking Charge" by JoAnne Nordling. To paraphrase,
Picture yourself as a huge rock in the sea. Waves crash against it unceasingly, yet the rock is unmoved. Thousands and thousands of parents have lived through the stage of life that you are in now; you are the latest in a line that has stretched on from the dawn of time. Plant your feet and weather the storm.
"Oh yeah?" says my voluble self. "What about erosion?!"
Nonetheless, the idea of allowing the waves to beat against you and knowing you are the stronger reminds me of when I gave birth to Ruby, the only birth so far where I was pretty actively involved with the birthing process (seeing as the boys were both c-sections). The contractions were also like waves, coming regularly and with an intensity that seemed crushing and unbearable in the moment. The only thing to be done was to breathe and know that it would pass, and that they would not last forever. I remember what it was like, and I remember that there was pain, lots of it; but I can't physically recreate that pain right now.
I suppose (and hope) that the same can be said twenty five years from now, when my children are grown up. I will remember that there were tantrums and fights and battles of seemingly iron wills locked in mortal combat. I will remember that it was hard and emotionally wearisome, but it will have faded, like curtains or upholstery that's had the sun shine on it every day for years.
The wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila comes to mind:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
As I was holding Max as he flailed and wailed, I thought about God the Father. I wonder, does He often hold us in a grip that feels so tight as we kick against His love? The times when God seems absent because of our pain…could it be that, far from being absent, He is so close to us and holding us so tightly that we feel the same effect of powerlessness as we would if He were nowhere to be found?