The Hard Stuff

Most often, being Mommy is incredibly fun… The most fun ever.

Watching your kids master a skill like tying their shoes, learning to read, blow a bubble with gum, or ride a bike; throwing them a super fun birthday party, saying yes to popsicles for breakfast, surprising them with a trip to Disney… these moments are the best moments, the mountaintop moments. The highlight reel from which the picture-perfect montage of their childhood is spliced.

And sometimes being Mommy is no fun at all…

Not the sleepless nights and cleaning of vomit, but the front row vantage to genuine heartbreak over the loss of a beloved pet. Their eyes being torn wide from naïve, idyllic innocence to comprehension of sin and death in a fallen world. Struggling to keep it together when you want to sob right along with them.

The thing is, this hard stuff – these un-fun moments – are a part of the deal. And they are important. They will shape our children as much as the mountaintop moments.

All of life is learning.

Saying goodbye to Peppermint Patti has been painful, difficult. I confess I was tempted to sugar-coat it, to spare my kids the pain of loss. To concoct a tale convincing enough to distract them from the hard truth that she was sick and she died. Could I pretend that she ran off to live with the guinea pig circus? Or that she materialized into pixie dust? That she simply “disappeared” like so many of my own pets growing up? Surely a mother’s primary function is to protect her children…

Begrudgingly, I realized that I’d be robbing them of an important life lesson, which then opened the door to additional important conversations.

Death is an unfortunate inevitably here on earth. We can’t “it’s just a guinea pig” grief and loss.

firstborn and marci grieving together

I pointed out to the kids that they will surely, hopefully, outlive every one of our pets. And one day, they will surely also say goodbye to a human whom they love. Learning to grieve well is an essential life skill.

Death feels awful because it was never part of God’s original design. In Paradise, before sin entered the world, we were designed to live forever in His presence. That foreign heartache felt each time we say goodbye here on earth is a residual effect of sin. “For when you eat of it you will certainly die…”

I’m thankful for the gift of walking alongside the precious gifts that are my children. I’m grateful to see their world expand before them– even the ugly, hard stuff of life.

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So we got another Guinea Pig. Not because we want to pretend Peppermint Patti never lived and died, but because Guinea Pigs are highly social, communal beings. They need companions. Sound familiar? They are fun, sweet pets to be enjoyed, and we can be sad AND happy, simultaneously.

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Meet Sally.

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl

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