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Parenting Is…

parenting is

As my children get older, I often wonder what kind of parent they think I am. Am I the crabby one who is always annoyed at what a mess everything is? Am I the fun one? Am I the overbearing one that always wants to know what’s going on? Am I too involved in my kids’ lives? Too detached? Am I raising them so that they will be the best version of themselves when they grow up? Do I even have that ability or influence?  Am I doing any of this right?

Being a parent is an on-the-job learning experience. There’s not much time to prepare for it. You just have to live it and adjust with the changes that come your way. Being a parent is more things than I could ever put pen to paper to describe, but if I were to start, it might look something like this…

Parenting is…
• parallel parking with one hysterical infant and another child screaming at you to spell Brontosaurus.
• a kitchen that never closes.
• resisting the urge to clean up your kids’ messes (at home, in school, in life) and teaching them how to be responsible instead.
• ordering your own dinner at a restaurant but then only eating your kids leftover chicken tenders.
• a foot in your back and one in your face at 2 a.m.
• singing the “Puppy Pals” theme song in your dreams at night even though no one’s watched it in years.
• wondering to yourself a couple times a day, “Is this really happening right now?”
• restraining a hysterical child during a medical procedure and trying not to cry yourself (and every other version of staying calm when your child is upset)
• trusting your instincts because no one knows your kids like you do.
• expecting the drink to spill and not over-reacting when it does.
• still waking in the middle of the night even when no one comes in anymore.
• saying things that seem so obvious like, “We shouldn’t try to touch other people’s eyes,” or “We don’t ride our scooters in the kitchen.”
• having lots of conversations about what did or did not happen in the bathroom.
• making dinner for your toddler and having them immediately dump it on the floor.
• making dinner for your older kids and having them immediately inform you that, “This isn’t what I wanted.”
• letting your kids know they don’t live at a restaurant.
• reminding your kids not to say “poopie” (or worse) a million times a day.
• learning to live with anxiety and worry without letting it consume you.
• being kissed right on the lips by your kids.
• trying not to feel hurt when they only start offering their cheeks instead.
• a child screaming and climbing your legs while you’re trying to cook.
• trying to follow an excited conversation about how to make pom-pom kitties even when you have no idea what your child is talking about.
• advocating for your children like crazy while trying not to come across as “the crazy parent.”
• feeling responsible for how well-rounded and well-adjusted your child will be even when you know your child’s personality was pretty much set at birth.
• doing alllllll the parenting things you swear you’d never do.
• letting your spouse do things his/her way without criticizing.
• wondering if your kids are over or under scheduled…and wondering why we all live on schedules anyway!
• finding what discipline style is most effective for each child.
• trying to make sure you spent uninterrupted time with each child everyday.
• not beating yourself up for making a mistake, missing an appointment or losing your temper.
• saying sorry when you are wrong.
• looking for the good in your kids, your day, and your life, and feeling truly thankful for it.
• giving your kids space even when you have a million questions about what they’ve been up to today.
• recognizing small gestures that are an attempt at getting attention or making amends (a hand around your arm, a joke from a sullen kid, a tug on your shirt).
• finding ways to have fun instead of always having an agenda.
• not being distracted when your child wants to talk.
• making empty threats because following through would only be punishing yourself.
• putting your foot down when it would be so much easier to say yes.
• wanting five minutes to yourself then missing your kids when they’re not there.
• trying to remember the last time you gave your kids a bath.
• putting down your own phone.
• leaving some time in your day for your spouse too.
• taking clean clothes out of the hamper that were only worn a few minutes.
• not getting emotional about “what a wreck” the house always is.
• learning to put away the “to do” list and live in the moment.
• loving people more and more every day that will need you less and less.

What did I leave off the list? What season of parenting are you in and how else could you define the undefinable job of parenting?

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