Parenthood, With its roller-coaster adventure of twists and turns, shocking drops and blind curves, is not for the faint of heart. If you have been in the trenches with teens or are “on the ground” with them now, you know this is an absolute truth. Rapid reversals yank parental hearts from the crest of joy and fling them to stomach-churning lows of frantic worry. Brief interludes along the straightaway are distractions that lull parental vigilence and set them up for the sucker-punch of the unexpected. (If the truth be told, oftentimes, it isn’t entirely unexpected.)
Nurturing kids to adulthood is the most rewarding and the most difficult task one can shoulder. A child’s safe debut into independence is an accomplishment greeted with relief and exhaustion. Every gray hair and wrinkle is well-earned.
The phrase, “It takes a village” is often heard and I accept its truth. I also believe that the village doesn’t feel the searing pain of heartache when a mis-step threatens to careen a teen off the tracks into drugs, alcohol or other black holes. Nor does the village understand the depth of exultation when a prodigal child inches back from the brink and returns to the family and embraces life-affirming values. While there is breath, there is hope for change and celebration. It is this optimism that keeps me in the theme park of parenthood.