Lathe operator machining parts for transport p...

Lathe operator machining parts for transport planes at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant, Fort Worth, USA (1942). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some things are worth doing even if they’re hard.

In college I had a friend for whom everything seemed to come easily. He was from a family with wealth and great connections, he had natural charm and charisma, and he was talented in many areas. It was easy to feel envious of him since, from the outside at least, everything seemed to be handed to him. Every job, every opportunity, every whim, every card seemed to fall in his favor.

In spite of all that, he remained grounded and humble. How did he manage it?

I sometimes wished for the challenge of remaining humble, but when your big plans all seem to be routinely thwarted, you’re automatically kept pretty humble with zero effort.

Flash forward to parenthood.

Our first son (let’s call him Rex) is compliant, pleasant, curious but reserved. He likes to weigh the risks and take in the landscape before trying things.

Contrast that with our second son (we’ll call him Bobo) who is headstrong, bold, intense and a risk-taker.

Sometimes Rex wishes he could be brave like Bobo. But I assure him that it isn’t bravery if you’re not overcoming fear. It doesn’t take courage to enter a situation that doesn’t present you with any danger. And my second son’s danger-gauge is faulty. The victories of parenting are harder won with Bobo. He tests my patience and creativity. He pushes my buttons. And sometimes he just makes me straight-up, plain angry. However, because we’ve had to work so hard to steer him in the appropriate directions, when he chooses those directions freely, it feels like a tidal wave of success.

Rex chooses wisely naturally, so it isn’t that we don’t appreciate his good choices, but the good ones Bobo makes took so much more work, they feel like big deals.

I’ve decided to take this approach to both parenting and writing: Some things are worth the investment of time, even if the results are long in coming.  

I love this quote so I’m sharing it even if it’s not the first time:

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”   Earl Nightingale

Maybe you’ll get rejected hundreds of times. Maybe you’ll want to pull out your hair when you child needs near constant redirection. But the investment of energy in a worthy endeavor is so much more gratifying than energy invested in a flight of fancy that is discarded quickly in favor of some new glittery distraction.

The challenge is to know the difference.

What is the nature of your goal right now? Worthy or glittery? (And a worthy goal can involve glitter, but you know what I mean, right?)

Lace 'em up and get moving.

Lace ’em up and get moving.

Once you decide the goal is worth the time it might take to achieve it, then lace up your shoes.

Pull up your big-girl undies. Do what it takes to get off the couch and invest the time.

And when it hurts,

when you think it might not be worth it,

remember why you started.

Remember the relationship goal,

the parenting outcome,

the end result you’re aiming for.

And press on.