Joy and Struggle

Dear Ones, I am here for you.
Dear Ones, I see you and I am happy.
Dear Ones, I see that you have joy and that you struggle and that is why I’m here for you.
Dear Ones, I have joy and I struggle and that is why I’m here.

This is a verse that I spoke with a group of mamas that I met with once a month for the first three years of my oldest child’s life.  It was such a comfort to stand together and see each others’ strengths and challenges.  It inspired me to look deeper within and to discover compassion both for myself and others, as we walked (and sometimes stumbled) through our life’s journeys.

This week I have found myself stumbling a bit more than usual.  My husband has been working in Seattle (an hour away and a longer commute home) and I have been getting my children and myself ready for school in the morning alone.  I have been trying to balance my school life, the needs of my children, household chores and my other responsibilities.  I have struggled.

And I have felt joy.  Joy in the moments of observing the children in my Nursery class laughing, singing, bringing me a cup of imaginary tea.  Joy in the moments of seeing them take a big deep breath when we arrive to the playground with our kindergarten friends – helping to wash dishes outside, pumping the water in the well, digging in the sand.  Joy in the connections that they are making.

The children have had their own joys and struggle in the classroom.  The struggle comes in conflict over a particular toy, wanting my attention when I am helping someone else, wishing that the maple syrup was on top of our porridge instead of mixed in.  The struggle comes in saying good-bye to their parents in the morning and missing them during the day.

But, their joys outnumber their struggles.  They are excited to try new things, sing new songs, discover treasures and, above all, play with their friends.  They smile and hug and dance.  And there is nothing quite like a young child’s laugh.

I know, as parents, you have your own joys and struggles as your child enters school for the first time.  It is hard to be away from them and not know all of their daily experiences.  And it is likely a joy to have your own space and reconnect with yourself (although, that can be a struggle sometimes, too.)  It is a struggle to know that they will have hard times at school and you won’t be there to comfort them.  But, I hope, it is a joy to have someone else get to know your child, really begin to see who they are and to help support their development.  And what a joy it is when you see your child’s smile at the end of the day when you pick them up.

Joys and struggles are both important parts of our life’s experiences.  Struggle is the key to learning.  It allows us to discover our limits, explore new ways to do things and develop empathy.  And joy is a moment of grace in life – a time to relax, enjoy and renew.  We must strive to find balance in our lives and the lives of our children — so that our struggle is not overly stressful, but an opportunity for growth and change and our joy carries us through challenging moments and supports us.

Joy and Sorrow by Zhong Yang Hhuang

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