When is it my turn?
I've heard that from many tired hard working parents. "When do I get to rest? When do I get to do what I want? When do I feel like I'm a success?"
Tough questions. Parenting has the longest wait for payday of anything on the planet. Sports are a distant second so let's take a look at them.
Let's say you wanted to compete in the Olympics. You buy all the equipment you need. You hire a coach. You pay all the fees to use a nearby gym. You exercise and eat right and get yourself in great shape. You even qualify for the games in your state. You go to one competition after another and take home no less than third place.
After six months you are looking pretty good. But the excitement is fading and getting up at 4:30 every morning to go work out followed by hours of practice just seems painful. Your mind is filled with doubt. Do I really want to do this? How important is this? I'm missing so much with my friends and family. I'm so tired of all the work....and for what?
The coach yells for you to pick it up and push harder. You think, what's the point? Third place is good enough. Your legs ache, your stomach hurts and before you know it you are on the floor writhing in pain. Do you quit? This is not the payday. It's too far away yet. It's too hard. Why not just stop and forget it?
Why not? Because the reward ---when you reach it ---- is worth it. Every Olympic champion has felt that way. But they keep going....keep pushing....because the reward is worth it.
It's the very same with parenting. When you've done 2,000 loads of wash and you aren't even half way there. When you are working overtime just so "the kids" can have fun on their spring field trip yet you haven't had a day off in months. When you've used all your sick days to sit in a doctor's waiting room and you haven't been sick. When those exciting memories of the career you wanted slip farther and farther away from you.
It's easy at that time to want to give up. I could go on....but you get the picture.
When is your reward?
There are small ones along the way. The hand drawn picture, the funny outbursts, the purple tie for Father's day and the red balloon hat for Mother's day. The lead in the Christmas play and the straight A report card (when you barely had a C+ average). The wonderful hugs and kisses accompanied by "I love you daddy" or "Mommy you're the best est". Those are wonderful little perks that can keep you going. But when do you win the prize?
Knowing that you gave the character lesson a good 23 times, you win the prize when the principal shakes your hand at graduation and says, "Your son is the finest young man I've ever known."
Knowing that you gave the make your life the best lesson at least 45 times, you win the prize when your daughter tells you she broke up with her boyfriend because he wanted an inappropriate relationship.
Knowing that you gave the let's be a close family lesson at least 537 times, you win the prize when you find yourself in a hospital room and each child steps up to the plate to take care of things you were sure they didn't know how to do.
Parenting is a life long job built with many wonderful gifts.
The payday comes when you finally see before you a mature adult working hard to make this world a better place.
Look deep into his eyes and you will see years of your own hard work coupled with the design of God.
God loves you,