Being a parent is both the most rewarding and challenging thing I’ve ever done or may ever do, in my opinion anyway. I know many out there agree with me. Here are some of my thoughts and reasons I feel the way I do…
I love being a mom for many reasons. I learned the truest meaning of unconditional love when I looked at my now 17 year old for the first time. I never loved anyone as much as I have my own child, until I had another. I love them equally. I don’t always like them equally, let me make that clear, but my love for them both is immeasurable. Right behind that is my love for my mother, husband, and closest of friends. I love many and a great deal, but no more than I love my children.
Getting random hugs, without any ulterior motive and hearing them tell you they love you can change even the hardest of days sometimes. Spending time with them is such a joy, even when you’re just watching a movie or playing at the park. Sometimes the simplest moments are the best!! Getting handmade projects from them is such a treasure, totally brings smiles to my face. When you watch your kid make a good choice, do something for the first time on their own, or help someone else, the pride you feel is immense! The list goes on!!
Being a parent means making sacrifices, to give them what they need and sometimes simply to see them happy. Making sacrifices for our kids and others we love is something we all do throughout life. Something I’ve learned however is that there should be a limit to that.
One should never sacrifice or compromise their values, become someone they aren’t and don’t like, or forget who they are to begin with. In the end, doing these things not only hurts you, but it also hurts your kids, the ones you swore to protect. It’s not always easy to see, but sometimes giving in to our kids and their whims to see them happy, covering for them in the name of protecting them, stepping in at every turn to keep them from harm only does more damage than it does good. There needs to be limits on what we’ll do for them in order to truly give them the best childhood and greatest chance at having a good adult life as possible.
I have told my 17 year old, I won’t be the parent who supports a bully or worse. If you act out, you will be put in your place, just as I will fight to protect you when you’ve been hurt, to a point. Hurt my child and you will hear about it from me, however my children need to learn to fight their own battles and in a healthy way and if they’re the one that starts the fight or acts out, they will face the consequences. Good and bad, there are reactions to what we’ve done in life that we must all deal with and I’m working on making sure my kids know they’re not exempt from that.
There are those parents that act like their kids are never in the wrong and almost worse yet, those who see what they’ve done and find no fault in it. I feel that only enables people to feel entitled and keep acting out, making poor decisions, etc because they never have to answer for what they do.
Being an enforcer is hard, really hard actually and I personally find no joy in it, but it needs to be done sometimes. I used to be way to lax on my 17 year old, as our time together was limited and I didn’t want to be the bad guy for that brief time we shared. That was a mistake, as my kiddo needed that discipline and structure. Of course, you can go too far the other way too, being too hard on your kids and going too far.
Finding a healthy balance feels unobtainable many days, but it’s something I keep striving for. Whether it’s what we give them, allow them to do, what we allow them to get away with, how we punish them, how we reward good behavior, what’s sick enough to take them in, what we let them figure out on their own, or what we take care of for them, it’s a daily balancing act.
We want our kids to be well rounded, self sufficient, hardworking, healthy, successful, and happy, all while we’re trying to be that for ourselves. (All while our own parents had wished this for us, it’s a cycle that keeps going.) We do our best everyday and that’s all any of us can do, but it can be easy to second guess our decisions, especially when you’ve got others around you judging your parenting skills.
“That’s now how we do it in our house…” Well, good for you, you do things your way for your family and I’ll do things my way for mine. Seriously, why do we pick one another part for another’s methods??
“I would never let my kid eat that.” That’s your choice. Why worry about what I feed my kids? Is it your business? My kid is healthy and that’s what matters.
“Where is your kid’s coat??” She was wearing it and this the third time in 20 minutes that she’s taken it off, but you seem to have assumed she doesn’t own one.
Instead, we should do this more often…
“Hey, here’s your daughter’s coat. I see your hands are full, I get it, happens to me too.”
“Here, let me open the door for you.”
“Do you need help?”
Tone too! This is huge! You can say something kind with an arrogant or judgmental tone and turn it into something ugly. It takes a village to raise children and honestly, get through life. We should worry less about others doing things differently than us and focus more on being supportive of and encouraging one another. This would make for a better society. Being a parent is hard enough all on its own, we shouldn’t add to the stress.
There’s no need to harshly debate infant feeding methods, whether or not to homeschool, curfews, what shampoo you use on your kids, chore lists, consequences for our kids getting in trouble, whether or not to let your kids have juice, how to potty train, co-sleeping, etc. Calmly and kindly discussing these issues is fine, but there’s no need to be mean or rude and nor should we insert ourselves in another’s situation acting like a know it all. Your kids are yours and theirs are theirs, no one kid or situation is the exact same. If we really want to help a struggling mom or dad, fine, but there is a good way and definitely a bad way to handle things.
Right now, I’m dealing with a 17 year old that has been making a series of bad choices for years and over the last few years, it’s just been this downward spiral. It’s really hard watching your kid do stupid things, throw many chances given to make things better away, and dig their heels in, so stubborn and unwilling to do everything possible to learn and grow.
When some around you treat you like it’s all your fault, like you’re a failure, or like your kid is simply a lost cause and you should just wash your hands of it all, you find yourself feeling hopeless and depressed, also very angry and defensive as well. Now, some have been incredibly supportive and doing what they can to help and that’s something I greatly appreciate. These people are part of my village and I’m glad. I work hard to be a positive part of theirs as well. I just wish there were more among us that were like that sometimes.
I also have a daughter that turns four in April and that has its own set of challenges, but also its own greatness as well. Both of my kids bring immeasurable amounts of joy and stress to my life. Even in my toughest moments, the happy moments makes it all worth it. I look back and try to learn from the toughest moments and cherish the best ones and I look forward with hope. May my children find their wings and learn how to fly on their own, but may they also know home is also wherever I am.