I think part of the reason it’s fun to be a parent is that you get to watch your own experiences mirrored back to you from a different perspective.
Just the other day my 2 1/2 year old was trying to pull up the zipper on his coat. I heard gentle crying and I went to see what the problem was.
There he was with his zipper just connected at the bottom. He practically had tears in his eyes as he said, “This is hard.”
I’ve seen him successful zip up before, and he even gets kind of cranky when I intervene, so I became the observer without saying anything, just kindly watching.
The crying began to get louder as his frustration grew, but he kept trying.
“I can’t do it,” escaped his lips as he began to scream.
But he kept trying, and crying. Frustrated, but working the problem.
The zipper starts to stutteringly move up the coat.
Relief and joy replaces frustration and struggle.
“I can do it,” he states energetically.
Closing triumphantly with “I got it, this is easy.”
This whole interaction took a matter of a few seconds. But it had a big impact on me. My son moved on and has probably forgotten the whole affair, apart from some improved muscle memory from the action. But I keep thinking about observing that and what it means to me.
The compression of the incident was enlightening. When I have struggles in my life, as an adult, they take weeks, months or even years to go through all these phases.
This is hard. I can’t do it. I can do it. That was easy.
It’s easy to forget, during the length of the struggle that this will end. You will figure out the solution.
Seeing this daily reminder of struggle to success is a sweet way to encourage me to keep going. Yes, the zipper feels stuck right now, but in moments it will break free and I will experience success.
Everything children experience is fleeting. They are learning so fast. Each milestone is followed by another and another. Each success followed by another seemingly insurmountable struggle, then met with success. It is astounding when you consider the things that we learn in the first few years of life that are so hard and challenging and after all the time spent struggling to get it, all the effort put into it, you forget about it. Kind of ironic.
We don’t get a placard for our wall stating we have successfully learned to walk, or pull up a zipper, or tie our shoes. These major accomplishments are forgotten. If you had a trophy room, and the desire, you could print out a certificate of completion for so many major life skills. You could wallpaper the entire room with the skill certifications you have mastered.
It’s easy to forget all your accomplishments and just focus on what you haven’t done yet. Remember that you have done a lot.
You have succeeded in the past, odds are you will succeed in the future.