When Life Doesn’t Have an Easy Button

C and I were at Staples the other day and she stopped at a bin of items and pulled one out. It was the store’s “Easy Button”. She placed her pint-sized hand on the red dome and pressed it, causing a prerecorded voice to proclaim, “That was easy.” She pressed it again (and again), and in between my efforts to pry her away from the button, I thought to myself, It sure would be nice to have an “Easy Button” in life.


If only.

Not too long ago, hubby and I had returned home from an evening out to learn that E had totally blown up at C and had left her crying on the stairs by herself. I promptly talked to the munchkins and found out the details and then told E he owed his sister an apology – like now. Of course, being the stubborn strong-willed child that he is, he refused. And being the stubborn person that I am (hm, I wonder where E got it from?), I didn’t want to lose the battle. But it was getting late and I could tell from E’s stony expression that he was not going to budge, so I decided to let it drop – for now. 

I brought up the fight again the following day and reminded E that he still needed to apologize for yelling at C. His silence confirmed he was still stewing over the situation, but a little while later C came up to me with a big smile and announced, “E said sorry!”


I went over to E, gave him a hug and said I was proud of him. He pulled away and said in a defeated tone, “I wish we didn’t have Mei (little sister). It would be easier if we didn’t have her.”

I heard his words and wanted to scream, “Hello, do you not remember how much fun you guys have together? She’s your best friend. She even went back to playing with you last night after you yelled at her and before you said sorry!” Instead, I tried to hear the frustration behind his words and said, “Just because something’s easy doesn’t mean it’s better.”

Whoa. In that instant I felt like I was talking to myself. Because in the 8 plus years that I’ve been E’s mama, life has not been easy. Not one bit. He is our type A, highly sensitive, particular, demanding and intense high need child. Things that are easy for most other kids, such as going to a new place or experiencing a change in routine, can be earth-shaking for him (and us).

I admit I have wished on more than one occasion that he could be more flexible and more easy-going. In other words, I have wished he could be less “him”. But as hubby has so graciously reminded me, “E didn’t ask to be this way.” No, this is how God created him to be. And my wanting him to be different is really for my benefit, not his.

Like E, I want the easy way out. I’d rather sail on calm seas with a blue, cloudless sky overhead and the sun shining down. The last thing I want is to get thrown overboard into the choppy, cold water and be expected to swim to shore.

But just because something’s easy doesn’t mean it’s better.

Because it’s through adversity that we grow stronger. It’s through life’s ups and downs that we mature.

This past weekend I was so proud to be E’s mama. We had driven over an hour to take him to a regional spelling bee competition. But before he had even spelled one word, I was already amazed to see him sitting confidently among the other 2nd graders. I couldn’t believe how far he had come. This was the same kid who had never ventured outside a room without me until he was 18 months old. This was the same kid who had sat through an entire preschool performance with his back turned to the audience. He was the same kid who had won his class spelling bee last year, but stepped down as the class representative because he didn’t want to advance to the next round. He was the one who confessed he had intentionally misspelled a word in this year’s class spelling bee because he didn’t want to attend the regional competition (turns out his class did 5 rounds and he still won the most). But there he was stepping up to the microphone and speaking in a loud and clear voice like he had been born to do it.

Hubby and I knew better though. We know how much patience, endurance, sweat and tears we’ve poured into helping E grow into the amazing person he’s turning out to be. We’ve seen him grow more brave and even enjoy performing on stage now. We’ve seen how he’s becoming more flexible and willing to try new things. Because of all this, we also know how sweet and satisfying (albeit hard) the journey has been.

After all these lessons learned, I’m more okay that there’s no “Easy Button” in life. I think what I’d rather have is a “That was worth it” one.  🙂

Take a listen to OneRepublic’s song, “I Lived”. The lyrics talk about facing challenges and living every day to the fullest.

What challenges have been worth facing and persevering through in your life?

Enjoying the In-Betweens

The other night E tasked hubby and me with the grand job of helping him put a Lego set together. Now it was already close to bedtime and we still had about 150 (out of 300 or so) pieces left to deal with. I sat hunched over on the floor with the 20+ pages of directions to my right, a collection of Legos in front of me and C to my left cheering me on. Let me mention that I didn’t have any experience playing with Legos as a child, and while I think they are one of the best toys around, I’ve come to realize they were designed for people with small, yet strong fingers and metal fingernails (for prying stubborn pieces apart).

As I worked on assembling the bricks together, I grew more excited to see the product almost resemble the image on the box. I had nearly finished the task when I discovered something wasn’t fitting right… which meant I had to retrace my steps and make sure I hadn’t made a mistake earlier… which meant taking some pieces apart… thus prolonging the whole process… and delaying bedtime by who knew how many more minutes!

Meanwhile, hubby noticed my frustration (as evidenced by my moaning and groaning and frantic page flipping of the instruction manual) and remarked in a calm tone, “Enjoy the process.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net


This wasn’t the first time he’s said those three magical words to me. Every time I complain to him that the story I’m writing is taking way too long to complete or another project I’m working on is taking forever to come to fruition, he tells me to enjoy the process. Sigh. Isn’t it enough that I’m persevering through a task, but I have to enjoy it as well? It’s great advice, but honestly, I don’t see anything enjoyable about the in-between stage. I would much rather rush through the process so I can reach the finish line/end zone/voila moment, and receive the glory, recognition and pay off from having completed something.

When it comes to the area of writing, I admit I can easily become obsessed with the numbers. It’s not uncommon for me to go back to a piece I wrote, check the stats, and give myself a high-five for every positive feedback I earn. Sure, it can be helpful to evaluate how many Facebook “likes” or “shares” I got for a post or an article I wrote, but it can also suck the passion and creativity out of something I initially did for the pure joy of it.

As I’m learning over and over again, life is about being and not doing, and persevering, and most of all, existing in the in-betweens. It’s choosing to be fully present in every moment. Being thankful for opportunities to learn and try new things. Engaging in times of inspiration and invention. And yes, enjoying the minutes spent building a Lego ninja vehicle.

Thanks to hubby, I’m remembering to slow down and enjoy the process, even if it drives me crazy. 🙂

Take a listen to OneRepublic’s song “Counting Stars”. The lyrics are pretty thought-provoking. I hope to one day be able to say I’d rather count stars (my dreams) than numbers.

In what areas have you focused more on the journey than the destination?

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