I looked over at him while we were sitting in the carline and realized his backpack was twice as big as him.
This morning, we actually traded his Fortnite backpack for his last year’s Army backpack. It’s actually adult-sized and holds both of his big binders, his lunch box, his water bottle, his library books, and his extra change of clothes.
It’s heavy. And looking over at him, I wondered the same thing I’ve wondered about his sister so many times all these school years . . .
How hard is it to carry that all day?
Our kids carry burdens just like we do.
They come home with heaviness in their backpacks and heaviness in their souls that we didn’t have to carry that day.
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Why do we think their burdens are any less heavy than ours? Because they don’t have bills with their names on it or kids to feed tonight? Because they don’t have deadlines and meetings and carlines?
Think about it. We shelter them for five years and then send them to school, where they are flooded every day with hurtful words. Fickle friendships. Loneliness. Worrying about us. Things their little eyes have never seen before. Emotions they’ve never felt. Active shooter drills. Fear of what’s next. And we add on top of it all the expectations that they should be reading and performing at higher grade levels than their peers and attaining scholarship worthy sports skills by middle school.
The bottom line is their burdens are as real to them as ours are to us.
You don’t tell a person with a headache that their headache doesn’t hurt as bad as that migraine you had once. Pain is pain.
And all pain matters.
Today, when you get your kids back in your house, really look at them. Really listen. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and realize that they’re in a completely different world than you were in 2nd grade or 8th grade or 12th grade.
A. Completely. Different. World.
The burden they carry may not be a mortgage on one income, but it’s very real and very heavy.
I would give anything to be able to carry my burdens and theirs.
I can’t carry those burdens for them.
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But I can see the burdens, and provide a place of respite and refuel for them every night so they can get up and do it all again tomorrow.
And it matters.
This post originally appeared on Jill Windham Writes.