I have never professed to be some sort of parenting Guru.
I lie. I have.
Maybe not a Guru, but I certainly sat atop my high parenting horse and claimed EVERYTHING I was doing was exactly right.
When my kids were babies, I knew everything. I was an expert in parenting.
Or so I thought.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I had a plan. I was going to be the perfect mother. I read ALL the books (that makes me an expert right?). I quit everything that made me a happy, well-rounded person. Devices like coffee, wine, smoking, running, playing baseball, hanging out with my friends, staying awake for long periods of time, and holding in my pee. Oh yes and let’s not forget, I resigned myself to motherhood.
I sang to my unborn baby and turned the nursery into a poetic scene where my child would feel comfortable and safe. Including white noise machines. Starry light contraptions which flickered on the ceiling and walls painted in a color which would calm and soothe my child’s soul.
And then my first baby came. Cut from my stomach in an emergency C-section. My birthing plan, this was not! There weren’t soft soothing sounds of rivers flowing while I was giving birth and practicing Lamaze. No, there were harsh white lights and the sounds of medical tools clinking off a cold steel table.
Bringing me to point.
Nothing in the last sixteen years has EVER worked out as planned. Including both my pregnancies. So you ask, (you didn’t, but I am going to tell you anyhow), what have I learned about parenting now that I have two lovely/snarky/angsty teens?
I have learned, that nothing I plan is ever going to go as planned.
I have learned:
- A baby is as not as delicate as I assumed it to be. This lesson after my daughter fell from my bed in the middle of the night at three months of age. She’s fourteen now, and other than having the characteristics of Atilla the Hun in the morning, she seems to be just fine.
- Getting a toddler to follow a routine can be done, but only if you want to pull your hair out and cry while rocking yourself in the fetal position. I worked hard at this one, and each of my kids was entirely different when it came to a routine. My Son lived for routine, my Daughter, nope, not so much. I believe her theme song should be Free Bird. And guess what, now that they are teens, they both sleep all day, and eat what they like anyhow.
- Guilt will become your most felt emotion. From the moment your vagina is stretched to infinity and beyond (yes that’s a Toy Story reference), you will be inundated with guilt. You will feel as if everything you do, will never be good enough. Let it go; you are doing the best you can with what you have. Besides, by the time they are teenagers, they will assure you, you are a terrible parent. Merely because you asked them how their day was.
- Homework will become your nemesis. Regardless if you have a degree in business, or you are a math scholar, you will never understand common core math. Or so your child will say. Every teacher seems to have a different way of teaching your children, and your child will believe their teacher over you, every single time. I’ve learned to learn from my kids, to understand the way they are being taught, rather than trying to teach them the way I was taught. But I cannot promise you this will stop the tears, mostly pouring out of your eyes, out of pure frustration. Plain and simple, homework sucks, but they will get through it. And you can drink wine once they are finished. Not during, trust me on this one.
Life with kids is a challenge, and the one thing I’ve learned over the years is nothing is going to be as you so desperately want it. They are never going to know where their shoes are, but eventually, they will find them. They are going to challenge you, but isn’t that why you are trying to raise strong independent children? They will forever be your heart, and you will worry about them for the rest of your life. So embrace every spilled milk moment, take the time to listen to them, and make sure you take some time to be yourself. They will love you regardless.
These two teens living in my house, have survived every mistake I have made. No one is perfect; we are all learning as we go. And that is the one lesson, the most important lesson I have learned; as long as I am doing the best I can do, they are going to thrive.
Essentially what I am saying is, you’ve got this Moms, don’t be too hard on yourself.
At least, that’s my plan.