With experience

I am not sure that what we write in ignorance remains valid once experience shows it to be flawed. To read back to myself what I once wrote before we had children, for example: how easy to castigate a man for running away when faced with raising severely disabled children, speaking of great ideals about what constitutes a real man.

How experiences change you, when even the ordinary interactions with children can seriously test you, putting a strain on relationships and your approach to life in general. How will we react in the midst of another meltdown, as the house reverberates to the rage of a frustrated teenager, shouting and screaming?

Years ago, when we were without children, I used to tell a friend to be grateful for the blessings of family, whenever I encountered him complaining about the incessant racket which characterised his life. Of course, in the fullness of time, I found myself walking in his shoes, and felt compelled to apologise to him for being so unsypathetic.

Experiences change you completely. In earlier times we were tested by childlessness — a really heavy test. But then came these children, and new tests hit, increasing in force by degree. No longer could I judge a man pushed to his limits as perhaps I once could. Who am I to comment on his trials? Who am I to say I would fare any better if tested that way? For sure, our own tests are hard enough.

In time we learn it is best not to judge. You never know what tests others are going through. You never know how hard it is, until you experience it for yourself. May God have mercy on us all and save us from tests too difficult too bear.

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