Dear MotionWorks Family,
Despite its incredible beauty, October has been a hectic and crazy month for our family and probably for yours, too. Between harvest and Halloween parties, fall sports ending, winter sports preparation beginning, and school and all the other activities humming along, it’s hard to find a day to simply breathe and relax! In our house, we took a break from everything the day my son had his tonsillectomy. But even that day, my husband and I took turns helping him feel comfortable in between tackling little projects around the house we have been putting off this busy fall season!
After that tiny reprieve, normal life has resumed, along with a daily refrain of “It’s not fair!” from no less than two of my three children. And every day I repeat the same story, “No, life isn’t fair. But why don’t you choose to focus on the things you can do and eat instead of the things you can’t? You will be far happier as you wait out the time until life is again normal for you.”
It’s an interesting paradox, this parenting thing. I have certainly read on-line many a therapist who believe that kids should be sheltered from the difficulties in life. Hardship will come soon enough. Why let kids feel the bad parts of life sooner than they need to?
I have to disagree, however, as I look back on how my childhood upbringing formed my beliefs about life. Growing up on a dairy farm, life was not easy by any means. Bad weather, hail, floods, and drought are all unforeseen and uncontrollable difficulties in farming life. Despite these observations, I somehow grew up believing the best in people, in situations, in career ambitions, and, well, in everything. I guess I thought that Disney "happily ever after" story ending was how adult life would be.
I’m an eternal optimist; it’s simply how I am wired. While it makes for a great physical therapist to cheerlead my patients, it leaves you stunned and taken aback when sunny skies suddenly turn gray. I wish someone would have told me and prepared me for the hardships and challenging people I would encounter in life. To expect great difficulties, as they are a normal part of life. To take them in stride, and take time to enjoy the mountaintop view when you find yourself at a high, to give you the strength to battle on when inevitably the next valley comes.
Observing the difficulties of our younger generations, whether transitioning to “adulting” or suffering from severe anxiety in high school, college, and early on in their professional careers, I have to believe that the advent of helicopter parenting has not done these kids any favors. While I certainly don’t want my kids to suffer more than their peers simply to learn a lesson, I think they will find it excellent preparation for adulthood if they already have seen a few hurdles and hardships in life and have learned to not only overcome them, but to expect them. I would rather stand next to my kids, coaching them on how to take tough times in stride, then to wrap them in bubble wrap so that their first major setback or heartbreak occurs in college, hundreds of miles away from home.
So I will battle on alongside my kids in their current valleys, reminding them where to find their strength, how to find joy in the midst of suffering, and that this time too shall pass. I will reflect with them when the battle is over on all that they have learned. And then I will celebrate with them on their next mountaintop, showing them how to appreciate the sweetness of the good times in life, because just like the bad times, this time too shall pass.
I have learned that I am better prepared to live this life when my expectations are grounded in reality; not without, of course, my ever present “Sparkle” filter of unwavering optimism. So here’s wishing you and your family a healthy dose of appreciation for the beauty that is all around us this autumn, even if the gorgeous leaves are lying in a bed of snow!
Appreciating the view,
Dr. Jill Murphy
MotionWorks Physical Therapy