The other day my son Dalton, whose wife is expecting their first child in August, called me sounding a little stressed and said something to the effect of, “Mom I just realized that I am going to have a kid here soon that’s going to be with me forever and that I need to parent! I’m terrified because what if I don’t know how to handle everything a parent needs to? What if I’m not totally ready?” I had to laugh. I told him that it would literally be impossible for anyone to truly be prepared to be a parent. I told him it’s the kind of thing you just have to try your best at and hope your child doesn’t end up in prison someday and doesn’t end up hating you 🙂 . I said it to him jokingly, but let’s face it – there is a lot of truth to that statement.
Parenting is terrifying. You are literally responsible for another human being’s life. When they are born they cannot survive without your help to feed them and change their diapers and keep them from putting something metal into a light socket. And then as they grow up you are responsible to teach them the difference between right and wrong, to help them learn to make good decisions, and to keep them from running out into the street without looking both ways first. And the older they get the more life altering their actions and choices become so you just pray you have helped them to make the right choices in their life, knowing that if they don’t there is little you can do other than to be there to pick up the pieces each time they fall and encouraging them to get back up and keep trying but knowing how much your heart will break each time you see them have to learn any lesson the hard way…yes parenting is terrifying. And the biggest struggle is that just when you think you are figuring out how to be a good parent your kids grow another year older and all the parenting rules change. Your parental learning curve starts all over again at least once a year if not more frequently because the kids keep growing up and they are continually changing. Oh, and you can’t forget that no two kids are the same so with each new child starts an entirely new learning track for that kid, and those rules will be changing every year of their life as well!
“If parenthood came with a GPS it would mostly just say: RECALCULATING”
Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids could appreciate how hard it is to be the parent before they become parents themselves? It would be so nice if they could truly appreciate how scary it is to be their parent with all the fears and worries and hopes and dreams you have for your children combined with the responsibility you feel for making sure you don’t mess them up. But it’s simply not possible for them to appreciate it until they themselves are parents and begin to experience it firsthand. And with each year their kids grow and with every new child that comes they will gain more and more appreciation for what their own parents went through. I know this because every year that passes of parenting my own kids I end up calling my parents more and more to tell them how much my appreciation for them as parents has increased.
I don’t think any of us can ever truly figure out how to be the perfect parents…we just have to keep trying our very best, keep learning from our mistakes, keep loving our kids unconditionally, and constantly keep recalculating 🙂
~Amy Rees Anderson