I went back and forth about writing this post because I wasn’t sure it had value. Moms and dads struggle every day with parenting, so I didn’t believe there was anything I could write that would deliver an a-ha moment. But then I reminded myself that it’s not just about sharing creative solutions or different perspectives; sometimes all people need is to know that someone else is going through exactly what they’re going through. So to all my moms and dads out there doing the amazing, but uncertain, work of raising kids, I’m right there with you.
I don’t always feel like I get parenting 100% right.
The magnitude of being responsible for someone’s start in life is HUGE. Think about it, the experiences that we give our children the first several years of their lives will influence how they live out the balance of their years. Did I teach them how to treat others? Did I teach them how to show others how to treat them? Are they prepared to handle rejection and disappointment? Can they problem solve? Are they confident? Do they know their value? Can they defend themselves?
The number of things we prepare them for is no joke, and I’ve handled it pretty well over the years. Lately though, I find myself questioning … questioning my level of discipline, the amount of independence I afford them, my levels of affection toward them – is it too much, is it not enough? I had to pause. Step back. Figure it out.
See, I’ve learned that parenting is a series of transitions, each with its own challenges, learnings, + triumphs.
As the kids get older and move toward greater independence, I’ve started to have this feeling that I’m running out of time to teach certain lessons, to impart wisdom, to, basically, mother them. I know parenting is a lifelong job but, let’s be real, our role as parents changes as kids get older. I want to get in as much as I can.
Back to the notion of transitions: I distinctly remember one of our first major transitions as a family happening when the kids were finally old enough to stay home alone for a quick grocery run or a trip to the coffee shop. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was a degree of independence that I hadn’t had for over a decade. For me, it meant learning to be guilt-free about going places without kids in tow. For the kids, it meant an elevated level of trust and independence.
We’re going through a transition now and this one has been a bit tougher for me. When I first became a mother I, of course, had no idea what I was doing. But eventually I figured out my parenting ‘style’ and felt like I could do it in my sleep (and some nights I did). Now we’re navigating this new space + time with a teenage boy and a tween girl and I’m looking for my sea legs all over again.
It’s an uncomfortable and vulnerable space to be as a parent, if I'm being honest.
They understand more now, they have their own opinions and points of view, and they’re more curious than they’ve been in a long time, especially my daughter. All of this makes our communication that much more important … and more challenging. I find myself really evaluating how I respond to my kids and being very deliberate with my words, facial expressions, body language, and tone. And I don’t always get it right.
Sometimes my patience it too short and my list of expectations is too long. Sometimes I don’t want to be gentle while dealing with attitudes of privilege, sibling rivalry, messes around the house, and personal hygiene … the things I’m constantly on them to do better about. And sometimes my uncertainty takes over and I simply don’t have the answer.
I think we’ll be in this space for a while. And that’s okay. There’s no secret recipe for parenting and families have to figure out what works best for their unit – we’re no exception. Every phase of my childrens' rearing has had its own unique rewards, and I'm sure this one will too. We’re not exactly where I want us to be but, together, we're still doing just fine.
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