Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Truth About Parenting

"Everybody knows how to raise children, 
except the people who have them." 
P. J. O'Rourke

That statement is so very true, don't you agree? Some parents do an amazing job, some don't, but no matter which side of the fence you live on- you never feel like you know what you're doing. 
Parents are famous for telling parents of young children to "enjoy it while it lasts" or "things will get easier as they get older" or "once they're grown and gone, you're going to miss this!" 
I don't think any of that is true, but at the same time- My heart tells me that it's all the most accurate truth I will ever know. Those with older children look at the new parents with diapers and such, as say "oh this is the easy part, just wait until they're teenagers!" And you know what, they're right! But, only half right, because while they're correct in saying that teenagers can be difficult, babies aren't always a walk in the park. Babies are cute and sweet and they bring such happiness, but boy are they work. And it's my opinion that nothing can bring a mother down more while she's knee deep in the baby trenches than telling her that these are the best years of her life. It never becomes easy, the challenges just shift. We elect to take on a job that will be serious hard work from the moment we learn there is a beating heart, until the moment that we cease to exist in this life as we know it. 
And thus lies the contradiction of being a parent. It's the most challenging and important role you will ever have in your whole lifetime on this earth. It provides one with the greatest joy, the worst heartache, the most fulfillment, and the most heavy regret. Millions of people do it every single day, as they have for thousands of years- and yet- there is no one "right way". There is no one who can tell you for a fact what will work, and what won't. It is ever evolving and dependant on a million factors that are out of your control. All children are different, even within the same family, with the same genes. How can it be that they all require different techniques, none of which can truly be taught. The good news is that each child comes with his or her own ideas of what they want so along with having no idea what you're doing, and no set of directions, you're fighting an uphill battle against the will of another independent human being- whether they are 2 yrs old or 20. 
Yet most of us do this, and most of us love this, and most of us will look back at these years as the very best of our lives. A shocking reality I find myself faced with given the state of the house I currently sit in- but something I know to be true nonetheless. 
That is the truth that I will let carry me through the days like these when I doubt every decision I make and every word I speak as I do my best to raise these kiddos, both young and old. 
The only thing that I do have faith in right now is that we do what we do out of love. What I would not give for someone to be able to tell me yes or no, yes this is right, no that is not. Simple, definitive, black and white answers. No multiple choice, no essay questions- just yes or no. But since that doesn't exist in the world of parenting all we can do it trust our instincts. Trust that the instincts we have were formed from experiences that out children have not had yet. Trust that the love that we have will guide or decisions and our children through these rough times. 
It's a crazy thought isn't it, that the most challenging and important role you will ever have in your whole lifetime on this earth is usually handled with a cross your fingers and hope for the best approach, mistakes be damned- but if we do the best that we can and if we do it out of love, then that's all that we can ask from ourselves. That has to be good enough. 

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