I don’t know folks, I sacraficed a river weekend to take my kids to an Easter Egg hunt in the city and *sigh*… Those of you that know me well, know this is sort of my worst nightmare. No parking. Waiting in lines. Traffic. People everywhere fighting to get their kids in the front of the line.
But I knew I had to do it. I’m a parent; this is what we are supposed to do. So I followed the crowd and got my kids to the front of the line (If you’re not first, you’re last). I took a deep breath and allowed myself to make eye contact with other people. What I saw, was indeed chaotic, but also sort of beautiful. Sometimes I forget we are all humans, with our own stories, and we are all just trying to raise decent human beings. We don’t really know how to be parents, but collectivley we can agree that today we decided taking the kids to egg races was important and should be fun.
I looked across the field and saw all types of families, cultures, economic statuses, and parenting styles. Some parents were getting ready to body block the other kids so their kid could get the most eggs. Other parents were video taping and snapping pictures constantly. Another group of parents were making sure thier kids’ clothes were neatly assembled, while I watched another dad take his jacket off to put on his daughter who was evidently still in her ratted pajamas.
After the race, which don’t even get me started on how insane that is, parents were yelling their kid’s names, kids were crying because they ultimately failed at egg hunting, and a few kids ended up with the biggest basket of eggs of all. My son was one of the tearful ones since he decided to hunt in the oldest kid bracket with his sister.
Then my two yr old and husband wandered over, carrying the biggest bag of eggs I had seen so far. The five year old was unglued- how did he win so many eggs? My husband responded to me under his breath and all jacked up,
“It wasn’t fair. There were big kids in the little kid section too. Parents were scooping all the eggs into a pile for their kids to pick up and then body blocking the rest! But we did pretty well for what we had to work with.”
Instead of fueling the fire, I took some eggs out of the victorious two year old’s bag for the sobbing five yr old’s bucket and wondered how much longer we had to be there. Sky diving bunnies were on the list next… What happens if their parachute doesn’t open? What if they miss their landing mark? I look around at other parents who don’t seem to be asking these questions, so I just keep moving along with the crowd.
After spending a half hour in the hot dog line,people watching, I had some true epiphanies. For one: all of the parents are exhausted. For two: our kids look fairly happy, so good job parents. And for a deeper three: I wish I could hand out support cards or something to some of you. Its obvious you are struggling, and on your own. Who tells you ‘good job’ or ‘try this’ or ‘you can take a break’? It seems we are all so close together, packed in this park, and yet everyone is living their own separate lives, pretending the other one only shoulders length away is not there or doesn’t need help. I just wanted to yell into the crowd, “Good job, keep it up, and exactly why did we bring our kids here?”
I also learned that just as we are all trying to be our best, we all get cranky when we have to wait in line for a half hour for a hot dog. I looked over at my kids and wondered if it was worth it, if they were having as much fun as
I they could be on the river.
The bunnies fell from the sky and my daughter said, “That wasn’t that cool.” My five yr old started crying again because the line for the bouncy castle was a mile long. My two year old drank an entire can of soda unoticed while we were sorting out what to do and then my husband and one kid got lost in the chaos. Now I was the one needing someone to yell to me, “You’re ok, good job, don’t lose your cool!” When we re-united, and before I freaked out, I decided to go get the car by myself.
While anger-walking I mulled over all of the amazing ways we could have spent a Saturday, but this is what we decided to do? Ungrateful kids with hoards of candy-filled eggs (not even the good chocolate candy either).
I anger-walked for about a quarter of a mile when I passed a mom yelling cuss words at her daughter who was running ahead, trying to get away from her no doubt. I started to pray for her. Then started to pray for myself, that I wouldn’t unleash my anger on my kids and that I would be re-directed towards the hope-filled reason for Easter, the cross and the resurrection of what was dead and exhausted became alive and new (and more patient?). Then I started to pray for the people I passed, that they would feel hope, and take care of each other. By the time I got to the car I was in tears. Not because I was overwhelmed by the traffic or poor responses of my kids, but because I felt hopeful- that even though this day was not how I wanted, it was for a purpose. That sometimes making eye contact, or telling a mom she is doing a good job, should be done.
I often notice that in my country, it is packed with so many people, shoulder-to-shoulder at times, and yet so many are alone. We don’t need more bunnies falling from the sky, we need neighbors willing to take kids fishing. We need people that claim to believe in the Father of Resurrection Sunday, to be a community that people need.
Folks, we all don’t know what we are doing. But that is the point of why I share my strange stories. I do strange things to cope with parenting and life, and I hope you are doing some of them too. And just because some parents take their kids to Easter Egg hunts, soccer games, and community functions, it doesn’t mean you have to too. I tried it, [and even though I gained some perspectives, and it helped me love people more and get prepared for Easter in my heart a bit], it was terrible.
Thankfully, we got a bit of time fishing for bass that evening to get things even more swinging in the right direction. We had a lovely Easter Sunday service that focused on “where do you get your hope?”, followed by a great family day. I hope you survived your egg hunts and Easter weekends with great epiphanies as well. Here parents: *HUG*….this is hard, but worth it…..:)