Being a parent is by far, the most humbling experience.
Although I’d love for all of my children to behave a certain way and naturally do certain things, that just doesn’t happen. It’s hard to maintain the perspective that they are, in fact an individual. They are a part of me, an extension of myself, but they are not me. They are not my puppets. I can’t pull strings and make them act the way they should.
I guess that is what makes families so diverse. Each person is a separate unit that completes the entirety of its family. What works for one will never work for another. What is challenging with one, will never even be an issue with another. It’s a never-ending learning experience and at the very least, humbling.
I value myself as a mother. I think, being thrown into all of this at 21, I have survived extremely well and grown so much as a person through each child I’ve brought into this world. I love them as they are, and although sometimes I wish they wouldn’t behave a certain way, I know that through it, I will continue to grow and become a better mother. But it is humiliating. It’s downright embarrassing when I have to leave the Y because my Addie is constantly hitting other little kids. It makes me remember how I felt when some kid bit her and how upset I felt for her, and I am ashamed that my daughter could be making another child feel that way. (Then I am ashamed of feeling ashamed of my child and the ‘beat yourself up as a mother’ cycles onward.) Especially when she “knows better.” But does she? Of course she knows that it isn’t nice and she is put in time outs at home when she does it, but she definitely has not yet learned to control her emotions. To anyone that knows her, you know that she is an enormous ball of energy, determined in everything that she does. She thinks she rules the world and as a mother, I have to somehow teach her that if she wants to rule the world, fine…be a leader, not a dictator. Be kind in disputes, not violent. Don’t bully just because she thinks she can. It’s hard! At 18 months I wonder what she actually understands, and how to help her embrace good versus bad behavior.
It’s funny, because when people ask me if I’m pregnant with my first child and I say, “fourth,” I always hear, “oh this is old hat to you,” or, “you’ve got this down,” but the truth of the matter is, I don’t. No child is the same. This territory with Addie is brand new to me. Each child is so different and I am thankful for that. Sometimes I think God must’ve been sitting up there with his pointer finger at my belly, saying, “Michelle definitely needs to learn patience,” followed by a strategic aim and zap and voila, Mason is created! I think he saw Ana in my belly and said, “I really need to show her grace with this one,” hence Ana’s practically perfect. (Don’t worry, I am aware I will get it back in the teenage years.) But in truth, I know that he is not spiteful like that. I know that my kids are all created uniquely and have the attributes they do for a reason, and although it is against every fiber in my body sometimes, I need to embrace the entirety of each child. I need to think outside my box of comfort and figure out how to affect each child in the way that he or she needs.
Being a parent turns you into the most well rounded of all individuals, in my opinion. You learn how to function with no sleep, although you may not do it very well. You learn to live your life in two hour increments in the beginning, to non stop scheduled events as they grow. You learn how to make the world and all its chaos revolve around a 1:00 nap time. When you’re a parent, your life is not your own anymore. You are responsible for raising children to be moral, kind, honest people in a world that is bombarding them with everything that couldn’t be more opposite. You learn to speak slowly and repeat often, sometimes to the point that it’s just mind numbing. You learn mantras to calm yourself down and secret spots in your house to hide from them all when you are going to lose it. (Mine is my closet, and if you don’t do that yet, don’t judge. You will one day, trust me. Plan out a spot now. You will need it.) You learn how selfish you really are, but in a good way. You value simple things in life, like quiet with a cup of coffee, the sound of children laughing, and the pitter patter of tiny feet. You can’t wait to go out to dinner and get away, and once you’re there, you can’t wait to get home and see them smiling. That, my friends, is unconditional love and it’s something that you can only learn when you are a parent.
Everyday is different from the day before and each day revolves around your child’s mood. Nothing is in your control. Except how you react.
Happy Hump Day! (I think it’s Wednesday…yea that’s part of being a parent too.)