The Armstrong Family Circus

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Maineville • Ohio • USA

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This too will (never) pass

Sunday April 4th 2010

by Paul Armstrong

a tree


The fact that I have to check the toilets more than once a day for clogs is somewhat disconcerting. But only somewhat. And that is something I never thought of when I envisioned parenthood that decade or so ago when I knew it was on the cusp of being a reality. Parenting is (sometimes) the worst thing ever.


I'll be honest (wait, I'm always honest when I write here, so saying that almost assumes that I haven't been, so I'll rephrase) I'll be frank: parenting sucks. But not always, at least not in the grand scheme of things and life and what  it means to be alive. But parenting sucks the self out of you, it sucks the hardness and the myopic views of who you are and what we're doing on the earth out of you. It sucks. It's 100% of everything all the time. It requires a certain amount of insanity and disjointed psychosis to be a parent. A bit of doctor and teacher, accountant and philosopher, policeman and judge.


When you're not checking the toilets and reminding your kids that used toilet paper doesn't go in the waste basket, you'll be repeatedly begging them to stop playing the same damn piano song while you're talking on the phone. All at once you'll be filled with enough rage to rip apart a house to it's very foundation with your ears while gritting your teeth and swallowing your words and giving a hug you didn't know could magically squelch the flames of anger. You'll be as nonplussed as a cat in a yoga class while there's shit on your hands (as you clean out the bathtub after yet another "oopsie" moment). You'll feel so protective and worried that it etches a hole through you heart while your hands get calloused and dry as you wash yet another half eaten, complaint-riddled meal that you just had to make because there needed to be some sort of meal on the table. You'll find your composure eroded enough that you'll say those words that you can never take back and use a bit more force than you thought you could and find yourself on your knees in weakness and begging for mercy and forgiveness. You'll wail so deep and so low from the deepness of everything you've ever been as your child helplessly cries with pain and suffering, and blood and snot and sweat and shaking, and you will see Jesus and His suffering on the cross, and you'll beg Him to take that away from child for ever and always and break into ten thousand pieces and flush them away to find the strength you need to show your little child just a glimmer of hope. And you'll know this is parenting and this is sacrifice and selflessness and this is what God must feel for us; everything all the time.


Parenting is everything all the time. Every job, every emotion, every element that makes a human as horrible and wonder as it could  potentially be. And you're stuck with them. All of them. Oh, there are times (and I won't say how many or how often because that's uncouth) when you wish that maybe you had another family; you know that one you are duped into thinking exists that has those kids that never scream or hit or throw or whine or disobey or test or push you to the very brink of your resistance to violence. But you're stuck, and so are they, with their imperfect selves that somehow are exactly perfect for each other.


Parenting isn't a job, it's a duty. People quit jobs — often — but you can't quit being parent. Ever. Even if your kids disavow you, disown you, never speak to you, even if you die, once you are a parent you will always be a parent. And it's best if you just to accept this duty and stop looking for validation and rewards and praise and acknowledgement and just do you damn duty; and when you least expect it, you'll find yourself a belly full of laughter and eyes full of tears and a heart as full as a mountain and think how God-blessed are you to be given such a thing as this, your family.




Comments for "This too will (never) pass"

Wow! That was very well written and exactly floored me on a Monday morning about to start the week after a weekend of sugar withdrawal blow-ups, putting on Easter dresses while getting eyes scratched out and the Easter bunny getting all the credit for hiding Easter eggs filled with candy at 1 am.

Thank you.

Well said. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who wants to tear down the house at times. Thanks for the reminder that as a parent I'm also still a child to God.

Gosh! That was beautiful! Well done. Found you on twitter today. Glad to follow. :-)

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