When Parenting Choices Hurt

My dad used to tell us while doling out spankings, “trust me, this hurts me more than you.” It took becoming a parent to truly understand the truth in that statement. Now, let me preface all of this by saying, this isn’t an article on the morality of spanking. My dad is a loving, kind, and gentle father who never once made me question his abundant love for me, and yes, he sometimes spanked me when I misbehaved, and yes, I do believe that it was much harder on him. I believe this because I am now a parent, and as parents, we are constantly faced with decisions that hurt, and I mean really hurt. The kind of hurt that tugs at your soul and makes you question every single foundational truth by which you live.

Just this morning I found myself crying as I left the house for work, and it wasn’t a first. One of my daughters clung to me as if for dear life, and begged me to stay home with her. This has become a pattern for us…it’s almost part of our daily routine. She’s had attachment issues from about 8 months of age, and it hasn’t gotten any easier on either of us. So, I cried. I cried and I ran through the spiel that gets me through the drive and into my office chair every single morning.

Sometimes, the choices we make as parents hurt. We rationalize the reasons behind those decisions over and over again, but the guilt remains. So, to my children, you may never read this, but here’s what I want you to know:

My love for you is so fierce, and so strong that it has taken over every rational bone in my body. The day I met you, my heart could barely stand the weight of my love for you. This love is a heavy love, one that is so overwhelmingly powerful that it hurts.

The decisions I make are for you. I’ve weighed the options. I’ve thought of every scenario and how this might affect you today, tomorrow, and 20 years from now, and yet, the decision is never truly made. I will fret and reconsider over and over again.

I am in constant prayer that you will forgive me for any mistakes I’ve made, and for any pain you might feel due to the decisions I’ve made. If it were up to me, you would never feel one iota of pain. When you slam your finger in the door, or bump your head, I feel it. I hurt. That pain, however, is nothing in comparison to the pain I feel when I’ve caused you emotional pain. When I’ve had a long day, and I choose harsh words over patience – that’s the pain that lingers and haunts.

You will likely never remember the days that you clung to my neck and asked for nothing more than for more time with me. One of these days, you will beg for freedom and space, and our roles will likely be reversed, and that’s ok. My hope is simply that you will always remember that though I am human and though I do make mistakes, my love for you is unconditional, unwavering, and resolute.

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