“How are you?”
It’s a question I’m asked constantly as a parent. Most often I respond with “Good” or a similar sentiment. But, let’s be honest, there are at least three crises going on in each of my children’s lives.
- My youngest isn’t eating enough.
- My oldest is napping too long.
- Then, thanks to Google, there are those mysterious symptoms that convince me that one or both of my children could die in the next 24 hours.
Really, I think all parents are on the verge of a meltdown.
But what would happen if we responded to that age-old question with honesty? How might the truth shape our relationships? And how might it help us navigate those tough moments?
This week a stranger tested the waters. After an early medical appointment in a nearby city, my son and I rewarded ourselves with smoothies. A middle-aged man – clearly just having completed a workout – peered down at my four-year-old son during our wait in line.
“Hey, Little Buddy!” I was delighted by his kindness, but then his tone shifted. His eyes found mine.
“You’d never believe it, but I have a 17-year-old son. Yep, he and his sister are addicted to weed.”
Did I really just hear that? And am I still holding onto my little boy’s hand?
Frankly, I didn’t remember the last time someone was so honest about their parenting struggles. He was in an I’m-so-sweaty-I’m-gross kind of hurry, so I waved goodbye as he exited. “Good luck” was all I could think to offer.
“Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”
More than a day has passed since that brief encounter, but I have returned to it many times in my mind. I think we could all be more like the Smoothie Dad – more vulnerable, more relational, more bold.
Because, as parents, we never know what’s ahead. But, if we’re very lucky, we’ll find another anxious soul riding out the same storm.
And the smoothie just may break the ice.
One Year Ago: A Portrait of Imperfection