To sleep perchance to dream

So for those of you who don't have children, I'm going to tell you one of the biggest parenting secrets of all: it is exhausting being a parent. It's physically and emotionally draining. There are times when all I want is 5 minutes to myself (and I curse the day I showed my children how to unlock a locked door) and there is no quiet to be found. You want your children to be respectful and helpful and kind and considerate and empathetic and joyful and enjoy their youth... and when they are engaging in behavior that is none of the above, you yell at them to tell them to have a good time and enjoy themselves and be grateful. There are times when you just can't imagine how you can get it all done in 24 hours before having to wake up and start all over again.

And then, as you walk upstairs to go to sleep, you turn off the light to your child's bedroom, and you see their face, turned up towards the stars, eyes closed, soundly sleeping, dreaming children's dreams. There is nothing on their face but peace and comfort. They know they are loved and cared for; they know that they are safe and their hearts are secure in your hands. They go to sleep dreaming of all the good that happened that day (painting and laughing and joking and running and jumping) and all of the frustration you might have felt is long forgotten- washed away with their bath before bed. They sleep thinking of what tomorrow will bring- what kindness they will share with a friend, what new word or expression will send them into a fit of giggles, what love they will feel from so many who care for them.

See, it can be difficult to be a parent, but it's only because we try our best, every day, to make sure our children sleep well that night. We may not have much- we may be struggling with finances or work or a relationship or a friendship in trouble. We may worry about how we are going to pay for lunches or camps or college. We may worry about the economy and the environment. But all our worries are so that our children won't have quite so much to worry about. All our worries are so that we can do the best today to help them have the best tomorrow. We may not have done as well as we wanted to do today. We may have yelled too much or not spent enough time with them or not been able to make perfect meals or been unable to shelter them from every hurt; but if you did the best you could for today, if your children are asleep and they are safe and they are dreaming children's dreams, then you did ok.... and for that, you should be proud.

After all, this is the life.
- a