I love reading with my kids. Right now this involves a few minutes a night with a beloved board book about dinosaurs or dancing barnyard animals. Someday, I hope for them to experience the mix of satisfaction, sadness, and excitement that I feel when a great story has come to a close: the satisfaction of something finished, the sadness of saying farewell to characters who’ve become friends, the excitement of a new book.
I think we all love a good story.
But I think if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us have a favorite part: the end.
After all, the middle can be so excruciating.
Will it turn out?
Will the hero triumph?
Will the underdog come back?
Will the relationship be mended?
Sometimes it frustrates me when my toddler wants to rush to the end of the story. But he comes by it honestly. I’m a weirdo — I’ll admit that on many levels — but I’m a particular kind of weirdo when it comes to a great story. If I’m reading late at night and I know I won’t be able to get the whole book done, I will actually read the end of the story* just so I can go to sleep.
I think in our lives — and especially when it comes to our kiddos — there’s often a strong desire to know how the story is going to turn out.
How everything turned out for the good.
The perspective you gained.
The better-than-expected surprises along the way.
Because again, the middle can be so excruciating.
I’ve gotta tell you. I had originally thought I was going to write this post on the science of gratitude. I wasn’t intentionally trying to be cerebral. I’m just a bit of a nerd and I love sharing little science-y snippets with mamas who might want to stretch that part of their brains/selves.
But I’ve learned that you should be careful when you say, “I want to write about gratitude,” because the next few weeks may be filled with loss/confusion/stress and you might have to ask, “Am I still grateful?”
And this leads me back to stories.
Our family is there right now.
In the middle.
I would love to tell you that we’re at the end of the present circumstances in our lives.
That things have been restored.
That we have so much perspective.
That there have been unforeseen blessings along the way.
But the reality is that we’re not quite there yet.
And I want that to be okay for me. And I want that to be okay for you.
We can keep reading, keep watching for the end of the chapter, and who knows?
Maybe we’ll even end up a little grateful for the middles.
What are the middles, the uncertainties, the chapters you’re struggling through?
*For those of you who are curious, I do go back and read the middle (and re-read the ending). And I enjoy it just as much!