I will never forget that moment. I was sitting in a parenting class at the Children’s Center. My two boys, 1 and 2 years old, were playing around the group of mom’s who were sitting in a circle. The leader of the class asked this question, “Who feels that parenting is harder than you expected?”
My hand – and only my hand – shot up. All eyes turned to me and I thought, “Really? I’m the only one that thinks this is harder?” Ug, so embarrassing. I’m sure the leader said some good things, but what stuck was that here were these moms, not really different from me, and having a parenting experience that was fine. Or even easy. Huh.
I spent years after that moment trying to figure out what other moms knew that I didn’t know. I read so many books, watched videos and shows, and talked to anyone that had ideas about how to make things easier. I set up new family schedules, changed all the food we were eating, reorganized rooms, and included anything healthy and healing to our lives. I organized and reorganized our lives again and again.
Then one day I was rereading an article that was from some parenting magazine about helping your children get homework done easier. I had torn out the article as a reminder of the ideal way to run the afternoons with my now school-age boys. I had reread it several times over for several months, and each time I resolved to try harder to follow the advice. It included something like, give them snack, some time to run around, and then sit them down for homework while you cook dinner. Then it hit me.
This crap was not going to work for my family. In fact, every time I read this stupid article it made me feel terrible because I kept thinking my kids should act this way.
That day I had a heart to heart with myself that went something like this,
“Selah, My Dear, from now on you don’t have to do a damn thing that other people are doing just because it sounds good. I noticed, My Sweet Self, that you are doing pretty good, then you read something some mom did somewhere else, and you think you should do it too. But, My Darling, you’re fine. The kids are fine. Yes, it’s harder than you thought, but that’s okay. It’s already easier than before. And you’ve learned so much. From now on, if you want to try something from someone, just try it. If it doesn’t work, trust yourself and your beautiful children. You can do this just fine. Now take that stupid article and toss it in the trash!”
And I did.
I realized that the world does lie. It tells you things should be easy, or should be done a certain way. And if it’s not easy, or done a certain way, you must have a problem. But it’s just not true. Parenting is hard, and full of trial-and-error.
I was told the teen years are the worst. And while I’ve had some downs, some terrible moments with my teens (the boys are 13 and 14 now), I love this age. I just do. I wish they could stay this way forever. Sometimes they (and I) learn the hard way, but so far we’re learning and growing and discovering. To me, that’s what parenting is about: figuring it out.
I don’t think about those moms too often now, the ones sitting around saying that those toddler years are fine. I hope for them that they were. But I suspect there’s more to the story, and raising kids takes many twists and turns.
The truth is, I’ve never met a parent that thought all of parenting was easier than they anticipated from birth to graduation. Hopefully we’ll all look back and see all that we learned and experienced, and feel great love and satisfaction. And in truth, that’s the most we can hope for, but never expect.
(From BloggyMoms Challenge 2014)