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Maybe it’s just me, and being in a phase of life with young-ish kids, friends having babies, etc., but it seems like often when women get together we swap labor stories like vets sharing their war exploits. There’s something comforting about shared experience, not because it changes anything, but because it connects us.

Labor is a lot of work. Really.

During labor, it seems like it’ll never end. At least, I have always had to remind myself labor is really not that long in the grand scheme of things. It’s hard to remember, when relentless contractions keep coming, that at the end of the struggle is a life. A life a little less connected to you than when you started.

Labor does end. The baby does come. And at the end of this laboring, you embrace the little bundle and see those little hands wrapped around your finger. I wouldn’t give up any of my kids – even the ones delivered directly to heaven – to avoid that struggle or pain.

I’m starting to think these parenting years are a lot like labor. You know, the whole days-crawl-but-years-fly thing. Sometimes words like those are more helpful than others.

I feel it though.

There are so many days that the phases I am in seem impossibly long and I can’t imagine getting through it.

Sometimes it seems like this is all there is or ever will be.

Mountains of laundry, scraped knees, bickering children, endless requests for the same. exact. book., days of doll house and stimulating conversations about boogers, chalk drawings on the sidewalk, another ham sandwich, pee everywhere, raging teen hormones, praying at bedtime, hunger and nap strikes, morning hugs amidst the breakfast rush, all followed by more laundry…

Parenting is a struggle. Somebody has to say it.

Parenting is hard because there is this constant tension of delight with how they grow, wistfulness of letting go, and the agony of the process.

Parenting is Hard

It is hard to remember, when you are staring down a three-year old who thinks maintaining eye contact means they can continue to disobey and you won’t notice, that at the end of this struggle is a life. A life a little less connected to you than when you started.

It is hard to simultaneously celebrate milestones, while realizing meeting it draws us one step closer to the end. It is thrilling to see those first steps, but a little sad when they don’t want you to carry them anymore. As exciting as it is to lose the last baby tooth, it’s a little heart wrenching, too. It is hard to endure the days that crawl by parking hot wheels (by color, by body style, by number of doors, by make and model, by who gave them to us, in order of favorites…), only to look up at and see your child in line for a driver’s license.

The end is rushing upon me, just like labor, with one significant difference: at the end of this laboring, I will not be holding those precious fingers for the first time, but letting them go.