I feel sorry for privileged parents.
You know, the kind with perfect kids. Mostly because they have no idea they even have privilege, but also because they really think (if they are totally honest) their kid’s success is due to their efforts.
Why do I know this?
Because I am one.
What I thought was true about parenting.
When my first child was born I took my job very seriously. I read everything and made a lot of mistakes. And by my third child, I was pretty positive I had it down. I was confident I would ultimately reap the rewards of my efforts with wonderful, well-adjusted, obedient, successful offspring.
And for a while, as my parenting years passed uneventfully, I was certain I was right. I had no doubt each of my children would grow up to be happy and well educated with great jobs. Then they would present me with beautiful grand-children to cuddle and spoil and be the shining light of my Golden Years.
Wonderful, well-deserved privileges that were rightfully mine since I had diligently done the work because that’s the way the world works.
After all, it’s only fair.
But I was blissfully, ignorantly and sadly wrong.
I had no idea how flawed my thinking was until the day one of my children made a choice that threatened her life and rocked my world right off it’s foundation.
In an instant I was on the other side of that fence that lies between privileged parents and the rest of us.
I helplessly stood there — grieving the loss of a child I feared would never return, powerless and yet grasping at everything I could possibly do to save her; knowing my actions likely hurt more than they helped; carrying self-imposed guilt as I beat myself up with questions of “What if?” “Why didn’t I?” and statements like “I seriously should have known.”
And I began to secretly covet the lives of the OTHERS.
The ones with all their children squarely on the right path.
Happy. Successful. Thriving.
There was no way they could ever understand my challenges.
Sometimes when we talked, they had the nerve to complain. They reached out to me and shared their perfectly normal concerns about what every parent fears while I listened. And as I pretended to be sympathetic; I secretly, brutally, judged them.
And my judgment went something like this.
“You don’t have to worry about where your child will sleep or get his next meal; so you have no right to complain.” Or, “Really? You’re stressed because your child can’t decide what scholarship to accept?” Or even, “Give me a break–you can’t really think issues with your child’s teacher are a big deal. At least your kid is still IN school.” And then there was the day I thought to myself, “It’s JUST pot?”
I resented my parent friends so much; I couldn’t even have a simple conversation without silently choking on my disdain. And when they shared good news about their families, I didn’t even want to hear because it only served to make things worse.
They had no idea how fortunate, how privileged they were.
It just wasn’t fair they had it so easy.
I knew my circumstances had made me bitter and judgmental, and I hated myself for it.
As the years passed, I learned to let go and reclaim Joy in my life again.
And I began to understand what being privileged really meant.
My friends were in no way at fault for their positions, any more than I was. As parents, each of us were doing the best we could in an unfair world where so much was out of our control. And while maybe it really was true their parenting roads were easier, I began to wonder if the greater blessings might not have been theirs after all; but actually mine.
And that’s when I realized.
I was the one who was truly privileged. But not in the way you would think.
I was privileged to understand the reality of how powerless parents really were in their children’s lives. I knew the special joy that comes from seeing a child I thought was lost returned to me again–whole and filled with promise. I understood the only thing more valuable than time with my children was time on my knees praying for them. I was blessed to have a unique perspective of the true depth of God’s love and never, ever, had to wonder if there was something I could possibly do to make Him stop loving me because I knew for a fact — the answer was “no.”
Most of all, I realized if things had been “fair” as I so fervently wished, I would not have ANY of the blessings I treasured today.
Being privileged is just another lie we choose to believe.
Perhaps better to replace “it’s not fair” with one step of grace at a time, even when the road seems impossible to navigate.
Oliver Emberton said, “The problem isn’t that life is unfair; it’s your broken idea of fairness.”
I completely agree.
Lover of reading, writing, sparkly things and whatever purrs, barks or flies. Former helicopter mom, co-dependent and enabler, I am addicted to walking, my family and my iWatch. Teacher by day and writer by night, I am clearly the one learning the most. Keeping it up until I get it right. Choosing joy one day at a time and sharing my journey so others can see why it might not be found if we don’t look for it. Thanks for stopping by!
You were sitting right in front of me and I get that you probably wanted…