Being a mother of three twenty-somethings, and on the other-side of parenting, I have three bits of wisdom to pass on to mothers of young children. Three things I learned only by living through them.
Trial and error. I highly recommend it. Being on the other-side of parenting, with healthy, grown children, I know of three things I want to tell you that might benefit you and perhaps make you feel better about your parenting.
If I had it to do over again, there is not a lot I would change, other than trying to enjoy every moment more.
Parenting is an ongoing education. All the stages of your child’s life cause new stages of parenting for you. Parenting a newborn is completely different than parenting a pre-teen. Parenting a college student will be a whole new playing field, too. You grow and change along with your child. It’s an ongoing adventure.
The praying, worrying and learning never stops. Even when they no longer live in your home. It never stops. My mother has reminded me many times. It never stops.
I have survived it or survived it thus far. And being on the other-side of parenting, and still standing upright, I have a few things I know from experience that I want to share with you.
Embrace the crazy
I wish I had embraced the crazy. The crazy moments when you’re exhausted and tired of all the running around and fussing and mess.
I wish I would have done a few things different. I wish I embraced the crazy!
While I think my husband and I were good parents, (of course you would have to ask my children!), I think we could have slowed down, calmed down and embraced the crazy!
As parents, we were attentive, giving, nurturing and loving. I think we did all that right. But as we all know, there is so much more to parenting. There are so many facets to raising a healthy human.
Looking back on how fast the eighteen years went by, I wish I would have embraced the crazy, because now, I miss it. I miss my kids being in my daily life. Thankfully, I see them regularly and talk to them daily. They are in my life, but I miss the growing-up days. While I love our now-empty-nest clean and not-messy, I miss the ones who messed it up for eighteen years!
I wish I would have appreciated every moment. I wish I would have stopped and smelled the moments. Every stinky, crazy moment. Every messy minute.
I wish I hadn’t worried about a clean house. I wish I had kept the tent-city up longer, instead of having them clean the sheets up. I wish I would have left the race track out that he tirelessly worked so hard all day to build. I was always having them clean up. Instead, I wish I would have sat in the floor and played with them more.
They remember me not liking a mess. They remember having to clean up all the time. They remember voices raised, if it wasn’t clean. Do they remember the fun times we had? Do they remember all the times playing with them in the pool or do they only remember the clean house?
Now, I wish I had those messy rooms back. I wish I had the loud, always fighting and picking on each other moments back. Occasionally, I wish I had the crazy back.
So, when you’re exhausted, the kids are loud and running around and you want to scream, “Calgon, take me away!” Remember that you will have all the quiet you want in the future. And at that moment, look around and smile. And embrace the crazy!
Never say never
You go into parenting with certain rules you want to uphold in your home. You either had the rules in your home while growing up or you have witnessed something from other parents you did not like. You automatically say to yourself, “my child will never do that.” Or you think, “I will never allow that behavior from my children.”
My second piece of advice is never say never!
I remember sitting in church before we had our first child, witnessing the gluttonous feasts, that children around us, were having. There was Cheerios, goldfish, juice and whatever else on the picnic menu de jour. It was being crumbled and slobbered all over the pews. And I, of course, said, “I will never allow my child to make a mess like this in church.”
It’s easy for people, non-parent people, to be “judgy”, but time prevails, and you find yourself in the pews with all the snacks, doing anything and everything, to keep your adorable child quiet and content.
I can’t tell you how many times (and still) I go back on my “I will nevers”. I will never let all the baby equipment take over my décor. I will never allow my child to have a TV in their room. My child will never have a cell phone before the age of 15. I will never do that!
Have you already found yourself saying this? Have you already gone back on some of your nevers?
If you haven’t yet, I promise you–it will happen. Let it happen. Never say it won’t. Because it will.
You are going to make mistakes, we all do. Especially when it comes to parenting. Who knows how we messed our kids up? I say that with a laugh, but seriously, the therapy industry survives on kids who had messed up parents. But I have a feeling, if you are reading a mom’s blog, you are doing just fine.
We all do the best we can. We all want to be better parents than our parents. Just like we want our kids to be better than us. My parents were wonderful, and I love them dearly, but I know there were things I did, or didn’t do, when I was parenting, that was different from how they raised me.
You are different people pre-children. Those sweet little humans change you forever. Grow with them and allow the change to happen with them. You will keep them safe, but you might change a rule or two.
You want to know how you know are doing a good job?
You know when your kids are thriving. You know when they are smiling and running around playing like a carefree, happy child. You know you did great when you get them raised. You also know when your parents tell you that you did a great job raising your kids. That’s how you know.
Yes, you will make mistakes. You will learn from those mistakes and correct them, and hopefully your children will learn from them, too.
Parenting is a life-long commitment and a life-long joy. I am still learning how to be a good parent and I hope I always will be learning and growing as a parent. You will, too.