This Too Shall Pass: Balancing the Joy, Frustration and Exhaustion of Parenthood

My oldest kid turned 7 last week. I have no idea how this happened. He’s this, like, long-legged person who reads and writes and who, like, talks with me about the solar system. It’s so cool to see. But at the same time, it also makes me a little wistful when I remember the chubby toddler who couldn’t quite pronounce his Rs and Ls. I wouldn’t want him back there, younger again. But I do feel a little bittersweet pang when I think of how quickly it feels like this all went. And he’s not going to be at this stage for a lot longer, either.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of trouble really savoring my kids sometimes. It can be hard in the chaos of the daily routine to see how exquisite the current iteration of our kid really is.

There’s an old story about King Solomon: He wanted to give one of his ministers, named Benaiah, an impossible task — one that he would be doomed to fail. So he asked Benaiah to bring him something that would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy. Benaiah, always the overachiever, came back with a ring with the words “this too shall pass” inscribed on it.

This is a great teaching for helping us to better appreciate the crazymaking, the boring, and the everyday moments of parenting. (This is some of what I write about in my new book, “Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting.”)

Because it all passes in the end, doesn’t it? When things with our kids are hard, this can be a great solace: This kid isn’t always going to wake us up in the middle of the night. This kid isn’t always going to try to run into the street. This kid isn’t always going to test boundaries in quite this way.

But … it’s also true of our kids’ childhoods as a whole. This great stage they’re in right now with all the sweetness and hilarity and tenderness that it brings? This too will pass — it’s temporary. These snuggles, this unintentionally funny turn of phrase, this moment of play and delight? Impermanent.

This might cause us to feel some wistfulness. But it might also help us to remember how precious and gorgeous this time right now actually is. Even with the hard and exasperating moments shot through them. Even so.

This week, stop a few times and look at your proverbial rings. That is, remember that this, too, is going to pass. Look at the magic happening right now, right here.

When we remember how quickly our kids grow up, we can better savor what’s happening in front of us. This moment, right here? It’s yours, if you’re able to grab it.


Danya Ruttenberg is the author of “Nurture the Wow” (Flatiron Books.) She was named one of 10 “rabbis to watch” by Newsweek and one of the “50 most influential women rabbis” by The Forward. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, and elsewhere. Her first book, “Surprised by God,” was nominated for a Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and was a Hadassah Book Club selection. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and children.

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