I’m reminded this week that I only have two kids left at home, and in just a few years I’ll have none. My two older children are in college and rapidly finding their way out in the world. My two younger kids are buried under schoolwork and sports practice demands. Soon enough they will be out on their own also.
It’s hard to imagine a world without non-stop meal planning and laundry, but once upon a time that was my normal. If I stop for a moment, I can also remember a time when making construction paper hearts at this time a year was part of my normal! I haven’t done that for a long time. It’s a reminder that everything changes. It’s tempting to curse change, but given that it’s the way of things, perhaps we should be working on celebrating change instead.
Last week, I wrote an article for That Odd Mom about attachment parenting. In it I talked about my occasional worries over the years that I was being “permissive” and perhaps raising children who would not be able to cope in the harsh world without constant parental intervention. Tales of helicopter parents made me wonder if that was a result of a parenting “fad” that I had no idea I had chosen. I was just doing what came naturally, and it was astonishing to me that my choices even had a name and an organizing principle. But was I making my kids weak and passive? Would they be unable to cope with the rough, tough world out there?
I needn’t have worried. I have some of the toughest kids I know. They give the word “grit” new meaning; when I used to think of “grit” before kids, it was something gray, dirty, and unpleasant. I’ve since learned that “grit” can be pink-cheeked, full of laughter, and almost absurdly optimistic. It’s an entirely different category of grit, but it has the same deep reservoir of persistence.
So in honor of Valentine’s Day this week and loving parents everywhere, I wanted to carry this definition of “grit” just one step further.
Love is grit. It’s what keeps you going. It’s what backed up my willingness to become a parent in the first place. And unlike the decision to quit my workout in the middle because I’m tired and distracted, it’s a decision that you don’t back out of. You’re just not going to give up on your kids because you’re tired and distracted–maybe even bored. You’re in it for the long haul, no matter how tired.
Until I had kids I didn’t think I had grit. I didn’t know what grit looked like. Now I know. It’s a red construction paper heart.
More on grit next week. Happy Valentine’s Day!