Do you know what is hard? Being a parent. Do you know what is even harder? Being the parent you want to be while every Nosy Nancy and Stoic Steve decide what is best for you and yours.
Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many, #1.
Unless actual harm is involved, raise those spawn your way. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise can suck it. Unless of course they have offered to change the average two thousand five hundred diapers your child will plow through in their first year of life. Yes, that is the national average.
Let me be crystal clear about one thing. It will not be perfect strangers, your in-laws or even your own mother who criticizes you as a parent the most. For those of you right now cuddling that new born or watching your child take their first steps. Enjoy. It will be that sweet little ball of joy, who will one day make you believe, oh yes and tell you, that you are the worse parent to walk to the face of the earth. Repeatedly, with what may appear to be hatred glaring from that once cherub face. 🙂
Like most of us, we will keep it together while we lash back and remind them this behaviour is unacceptable. Soon after, we will fall into a heap of tears wondering where we possibly went wrong. We took the prenatal vitamins, went to parenting classes, read the books. We took them on play dates, enrolled them in dance, ballet, hockey, flute, and soccer. Oh and all the glorious family vacations. Sweat profusely rolled down my eyelids as I showed them the lions seeking shelter from the heat beneath the trees. “Look, it’s a baby lion!” I would whisper. “I want candy floss!” They would shrill, as I applied yet another layer of SPF 7000. We were forbidden to leave before snapping that glorious family photo to prove we visited the zoo. Teeth clenched in a piercing smile, as I am yanking on arms and legs to keep everyone in place. “Smile for the goddamn camera and I will get candy floss.”
Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many #2. Bribery does not make you a bad parent. Read that again.
All of this came flooding back today when I asked my twelve year old to go on a walk. I should remind you that exercising is not my strong suit. I do know it is a great way to relieve stress, so I am trying harder. Your parent guilt will be unique to each of your children. I didn’t do this for that one, and so on. My wee spawn, as I call him is my baby. The last to leave the nest. There is a ten-year age difference between him and the next, so he is wise beyond his years. He has seen me through a divorce, a remarriage, a diagnosis of Lupus and all that comes with that, me going back to University and the loss of my sister/best friend. All within six years. That is enough to give me massive amounts of parent guilt. My older children were ten years older but obviously affected too. The wee one worries a lot. We are working on that. He has the biggest heart and smile. I am working on leaving the guilt behind and enjoying the little things, like our walk this morning and our awesome talks.
Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many #3. Allow your spawn to see that you are human. That you struggle and make mistakes. That life is filled with challenges, hurdles and difficulties. Apologize when you mess up. They learn how to tie their shoes, use a toilet and count from us. You best remember to teach them the difficult stuff too. What better way than watching you fall and struggle. Rise and succeed. Cry and laugh. If you hide all the negative things from them because they are “children”, how will they ever know how to deal with these things as adults?
I was not sheltered from watching my Mom struggle. I watched her fail, but I watched her fight to succeed. She taught me that there would be times you can only rely on yourself and that is okay. The true meaning of resilience.
We can be so hard on our parents while we are growing. I once handed my thirteen-year-old daughter a pad of paper and a pen. She had told me I had ruined her life by grounding her. I told her she might want to write down every time she felt this way because I had a suspicion that she would need more paper. I also showed up at her high school in my fuzzy yellow duck pajamas to kindly remind her and her boyfriend that he wasn’t welcome there, as she was grounded from seeing him. In all fairness, I did warn her I would do it.
Advice from a self-proclaimed supermom of many #4. Always follow through on your threats. They always need to know you mean business. Yes, she was mortified. Yes, I ruined her life. Today she is twenty-four and says she will do the same to her child in a heartbeat. Success!
My last piece of advice is going out to all parents. When they say parenting is a lifelong job, nothing could be truer. There will be growing pains with each stage. As you are deciding between jarred food or making your own. Cloth diapers versus disposables. How old before they can wear make up or get a cell phone? When can they date? You are going to make mistakes. Some will be inconsequential, and some will scar you.
It will be so hard to remember this, but you must be forgiving of you. You are human. You are learning as you go. Not all of your children will be the same, which will be surprising to most. All three of my children have vastly different personalities. I quickly realized that one parenting style would not work for all of them. Grounding my daughter from her cell phone, actual ARMAGEDDON! My oldest son could have cared less. Taking his computer keyboard away, DEVASTATION! You get the drift. Be adaptable.
Being a parent has been the most fulfilling, exhausting, loving, and stressful part of my life. I hope that my children can learn from my mistakes and respect my faults. Admire my resiliency, and enjoy my sense of humour.
For those of you parents listening today, hear this. Did your child run around in their pajamas all day? Is cereal on the menu for dinner tonight? Has your teenager perfected the eye roll with each conversation you have? Do you currently see more of your spawn’s social life on Snap Chat? Have you quietly dreamed of that lavish vacation you could have taken if it weren’t for the insane amounts of money spent on back to school clothes?
Guess what? You are normal so let that parental superhero cape fly! That’s right, behind a great percentage of those social media family vacation shots, are stressed out and exhausted toddlers with lollipops stuck in their hair. Parents back at the hotel, realizing it just cost the equivalent of one year’s college tuition to visit “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Last piece of advice from the self-proclaimed supermom of many.
Embrace it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. That is after all what life is all about, for they too shall become parents one day. 🙂
P.s. Don’t forget the candy floss.
Much Love ❤