thoughts on parenting. as they grow.
The other day when I was at the gym I couldn’t help but overhear two mothers talking. One had a small infant and the other had a little girl around eighteen months. Perhaps they had another toddler, perhaps not. As I juggled Jess in my arms, trying to distract her while we waited for Josh’s swimming to finish, my ears wandered towards their conversation. “It’s just so hectic now, non-stop you know,” said the one mother. “Oh I know, I never imagined kids would be this hard. Look at the moms whose kids are in school and they stay home. That’s when it gets easier. I guess we’ll get there eventually,” replied the other. “Ya, eventually it will be easy.”
I wanted to run towards the young mothers, with arms flailing and my words shouting “Don’t be fooled, it only get’s harder! Prepare yourself!” But, as you can imagine, I didn’t do this. I silently smiled to myself and kept my thoughts inside my head. Now, I don’t want to scare any mothers out there. I don’t really mean that it gets harder, I simply mean the challenges shift. And I suppose I was never really ready for this shift in parenting. It tends to become less about the physical demands (the nursing, the waking in the night, the lifting of car seats) and more of the emotional type. I now find myself searching for answers to difficult questions that that I honestly can’t answer myself. Questions about God, religion, why there are protesters in front of a doctor’s office. I’ve had to explain divorce and why sometimes mommies and daddies don’t get along. I can barely understand these issues myself, let alone explain them to my five and seven year old.
The emotional has overtaken the physical.
My days of toting toddlers around in a baby wrap have been replaced with chauffeuring them all over town and facing the challenge of being on time. My moments spent worrying if my two year old was eating enough vegetables is now spent worrying if he actually eats the lunch I pack. Does he trade off the healthy items I carefully choose, or worse, does he toss them in the trashcan? Is he sneaking in sugars and candy and frozen treats while at school? Has my healthy lifestyle that I uphold in our home backfired? And if it hasn't, will it in the future?
Do I spend enough playtime with my children? Our days are filled with so many activities, outings and homework sessions that I constantly worry if I give each of my children the attention they desire. The attention they need.
Did I practice math and spelling enough with Jonas today, did I read books to each of my children, is the binky that Jess loves causing her teeth to move, should I have Josh's hearing retested, will Jonas eventually warm up to the idea of swim team, is he making the right friends at school?
These are the questions that weigh on my heart during the late hours of the night. These are the questions that are always roaming around in the back of my mind. These and many more.
The important note to take away is that we must embrace parenthood. We must embrace our roles as a parent at every step of the way, and there are plenty of steps on this journey. I can’t help but reflect on what I overheard the mother say, “Eventually it (parenting) will get easy.”
Nobody ever said parenting was easy. It doesn’t come with a map, an instruction manual or even a version of cliff notes, although many times I wish it did.
We create our own notes and manuals one day at a time. It is a continuous journey, and uphill struggle that is filled so many joys, and it is the over abundance of joys that make you forget about the stress and trials of parenting. One good game of hide and seek outweighs the sleepless nights, one round of family t-ball erases the memories of struggling to feed an infant, and the laughter of your children teaches you that happiness is all that matters.
These children of ours, they blossom and grow.
They expand and learn.
And as parents, it's our job to do the same.
To grow together.
And this, I hope, will be the path to happiness.