Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Amy Welborn at Open Book posted this piece on parenting today. The link will take you there, but I wanted to post it all here as well as I know so many of us can relate to this.
Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle

...it is ascribed to many writers. A brief search ascribed it to Plato, Chesterton and Philo of Alexandria.

It doesn't matter. It's true. They may hide it, they might not even know it, but it remains true.

These days, because I am one, I think a lot about the parents of babies and small children. Critiqued, scolded, belittled, shunted off the back room...

Be kind.

Perhaps you have never lived it yourself, perhaps you've forgotten what it's like: the constant attention and energy required simply to get the little ones to walk in a straight, undistracted line, much less be quiet while doing so. The battles, large and small. The isolation, particularly if you're not working outside the home, from the rest of the adult world. The sheer, utter exhaustion, in which a good night's sleep is just the faintest of memories.

And just try to remember all of that the next time you see a parents and babies and toddlers out and about, doing their business, having a good time...or not. It's hard, holy work. Oh, it has its benefits - the grins, the growing, the malapropisms, the glorious truth that part of this job is sitting in the back yard watching a little boy kick a ball and a baby stare, amazed, up into the shifting leaves on the trees, the beauty of the moment rendered almost painful because you know, sooner than you can say, that it will end.

And you will be like everyone else, watching the parents and the little ones from outside, smiling sometimes, shaking your head at others, thinking that there needs to be a little bit more control in that situation over there...

Be kind.

And perhaps - say a prayer instead of being the critic. If you can, if it's appropriate, lend a hand, even to a stranger. Making faces or striking up a conversation with a fussy toddler in the grocery line is a gift that can make a mother's day. Tell the father of the difficult baby who sat behind you in Mass that his baby is beautiful and a gift. And as you walk away, say another prayer.

Oh, and if you're not a stranger, and if you're free on Saturday afternoon...offer to babysit. For no charge, except for the privilege of seeing the grins and hearing the giggles yourself.

Be kind.


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