This, Too, Shall Pass

As a young parent, I received a lot of unsolicited advice that I pretty much ignored.  Despite people’s good intentions, a lot of what I heard was just plain wrong or just didn’t work for my family.

But there were a lot of examples of good parenting that I embraced.  Lacking good parental role models in my own life, I looked to others whose families I admired for guidance.  Many of these people do not even know that I looked up to them.

When I first became a mother, I was living 1,200 miles away from home in Boston, Massachusetts.  I loved living in New England and used to tell my family that I intended to die there.

One of my co-workers was a woman named Evelyn.  Evelyn had a caring husband named Eddie and three beautiful young daughters.  They epitomized, to me, a good and loving family.  They co-parented their children.  Their children were good students who also volunteered and worked outside of school. They attended church regularly and had a large network of friends and family – their village – to help them raise their children.

My beautiful oldest daughter when she was a baby.  Evelyn’s oldest daughter, Andrea, used to babysit her.

Evelyn and Eddie also had great senses of humor.  I really admired this about them since I was always way too serious.

Evelyn and Eddie made parenting look easy.  Even though now, in retrospect, I know how really hard it is.

So, I would often talk to Evelyn about being a mother.  During the times when I had a baby who cried all night long, for no apparent reason, and I would struggle through the workday.  During the times when I worried about when she would talk or walk or pass any of the myriad of milestones of early childhood.  During the times when I worried about having no family around to help me.

Evelyn never gave me any real advice.  She never said to do this or to do that.  She always just said, “This, too, shall pass.”

Profound words.

Words that gave me comfort.

Words that still ring in my head when I am faced with life’s challenges.

But always perfect words when it came to raising children.  You see, just when I would always be at my wit’s end or at the end of my rope or wishing that I just could not bear to nurse one more baby, change one more diaper, or teach one more kid how to tie their shoes.  Just when I thought I could not bear to do one more spelling list, or book report, or science fair project.  Just when I thought I couldn’t handle one more school open house, parent teacher conference, or band or sporting event.  It would be over.  It would pass.

Every new parent should have someone in their lives that they look up to as role models of good parenting.  Someone who doesn’t pass judgment.  Someone who truly cares and sympathizes with your situation.

I thought about Evelyn and her words recently.  Even though our kids are mostly grown, they are still words that ring in my head when faced with life’s challenges whether they be small or large.

They aren’t biblical words.  That fact surprises a lot of people.  The original source is unclear as they are variously attributed to being part of ancient proverbs passed down through Persian, Hebrew, and Turkish folklore.

Four words.  Given to me by a friend and that have given me comfort for nearly 30 years.

This, too, shall pass.

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