I’m quite certain there is nothing that can prepare you for being a parent. You can take any class, book, or nugget of advice that is handed to you and it may not do you any good. Each child is unique and as a parent that challenges you to parent them differently. The one thing that is common across the board with parents is that we have the toughest and most rewarding job ever.
The Struggles of Parenting
I have mentioned before that it would be wonderful if a manual existed that shared the tried and tested ways of raising happy, healthy, well adjusted children. One that ensured there would be no bumps along the way.
As a parent you have no guarantee that what you are doing will get you the end result you want. You will question everything. You know what needs to be done but may waiver out of self doubt, exhaustion, or any other reason. Much of parenting is going with your gut feeling. Learning to look past that tiny part of you that wonders if you are doing the right thing is not always easy to do. Self doubt has a way of burrowing deep within us and rearing its ugly head throughout our parenting journey (and throughout life as well).
I don’t think you really know fear until you are a parent. I am a worrier and in the back of my mind I constantly am thinking of what could go wrong. I am that mom that when her kids don’t answer their cell phones after a couple of times I imagine the worst. Children become your life and your world (that’s not to say that you don’t have other interests) and the thought of your life without them can paralyze you.
Here’s something we can all agree on. Parenting is frustrating. It is a lesson in patience. You say something once, twice, umpteen times and hope that it sinks in. Children of all ages tend to be self-centered, and I don’t mean that to be as harsh as it sounds. Maturity-wise many can not see past themselves and feel empathy til a certain age.
You can pour your heart and your time into your children and there is no guarantee that they will be what you may envision them being. We are so used to living our lives and doing X to ensure that you achieve Y. As a parent that equation does not work. At all. Parenting is learning to let that notion go and understanding that despite your efforts you can not compete with the variables that comprise raising children. You need to trust that your child will be who he or she was meant to be.
Tough love is a hard pill to swallow. You want to make life easier for your kids in every way, shape, and form yet you can’t. Let me rephrase that; you shouldn’t. When you use tough love, character is built. I know it is often easier to give in and do something yourself or pave the way for them but they will not learn. Letting them make mistakes and navigate life themselves will help then in the long run.
The Rewards of Parenting
There is nothing better than a heartfelt thank you from your child. Gratitude and appreciation are definite ways to a paren’s heart. As you may know, my oldest went off to college this past August. She came home a couple of weeks ago for the first time. The night she left to return to school my husband and I found notes on our pillows. Being away has made her realize what family and home truly mean and the kind and loving words she wrote us were one of the best gifts I have received in my life. I will treasure that note forever.
I often catch myself staring at my daughters in wonder, amazed that they are mine. I was lucky enough to have them and beyond blessed to get to raise them. As a parent, the pride you feel in your child’s successes and struggles is immeasurable. To see them overcome something or to see them exceeded their own hopes and dreams is a wonderful feeling.
A Love Like No Other
You think you know love as a child growing up in your family. Then you think you truly know love when you meet your partner/spouse. The love you have for a child though? It by far exceeds all. It makes the heartaches, the frustrations, and the exhaustion seem so small.
The Reality of Parenting
Parenting is demanding and challenging and rewarding all at the same time. There are times when, even as a mom of a 18, 15, and 12 year old I am still at a loss and wondering how to do it. I doubt myself constantly and wish that things were cut and dry. I wish for it to be easy and defined. It’s not nor will it ever be. My head often hits the pillow at night and I hope that the following day will be a clean slate. I stay tough and strong when I need to be and quietly cry when I don’t need to be the strong one. I love being able to get support and encouragement from my husband. Without him, this would be a million times harder. Single parents out there…..you are heroes. You do this day in and day out and keep running the parenting race. My hat is off to you.
As I said at the start, nothing can prepare you for being a parent. You take the good with the bad and you hope for the best. Do what you feel is right for you and your family and be there to love, guide, and support your children. Be sure to have your own network of support as well. It will make a world of a difference for you.
I’m linking up with Ember Grey today for Grateful Heart Monday. I am eternally grateful for my daughters who are my world. I am grateful for my husband who is my rock. I am grateful for my parents for being amazing examples of parents. I am grateful for other moms out there that support me and encourage me.
What are you grateful for today?