You know, parenting sucks. Period.
There, I said it. You don’t have to.
They don’t come with a guidebook. There isn’t a contract you sign, you just hang on by your fingernails and hope. There may be praying involved. Lots of praying.
You grow this person. You spend 9 months dreaming of your baby girl, or your baby boy. You spend 9 months pinning hope and dreams on them, what they will grow up to be, how they will be…who they will be. You pin all YOUR hopes and dreams on making their lives better than your own. That you will do anything and everything to ensure they have the world.
9 months. 9 months of your body changing, your insides moving around to accommodate this little being that you are growing with all these hopes and dreams. Never once do you think that you started changing and accommodating to grow them, you will spend your lifetime changing and accommodating for them.
It’s true. You will.
I have spent the better part of my life putting my children first in my life. Before myself. Most mommies will tell you they do the same thing, we all do. We all say “I’m going to put me first!” and it may last for an afternoon…but let’s be real, we are terrible at the follow through.
We bathe, nurse, change diapers, feed, teach them to read, tie their shoes, recite their ABC’s and ride a bike. We are there with a band aid and a hug for when they get hurt. A cracker when they are hungry and a story with voices when they are sleepy. We are superheroes and we shrug it off like it’s nothing.
Ladies, it is EVERYTHING.
We spend our whole lives as mommies in control of everything. From naptime to bath time, we control their world. We decide what they eat, what they wear, what they watch and who their friends are. We are Zeus. And while they are young, that’s okay.
As they get older, they want freedom. Freedom to make their own decisions, own experiences and their own friends. We allow this, in small doses. Just enough so they feel freedom, but not enough that they go off the rails.
Then they become teenagers…God.help.us. It is a battle to the death. Over clothes, curfews, makeup, boys, girls, grades and respect. It is a battle royale that you think you won’t make it through, but I promise you…it gets worse.
See, they graduate, they become “adults.” Only, they haven’t listened to anything you have told them as teenagers and now blame you for not teaching them how to be an adult. They hurl words at you that would peel your skin off, they make sure you know exactly how inept and stupid you are. How you have not prepared them for the real world.
Now, don’t get me wrong…these are still your babies. You still would lay down your life for them. Now it’s time to change the rules.
You are no longer the mommy to children. You are the mother to adult children. This is different. No longer are you required to dress them, bathe them, negotiate curfews and grades.
Now you have to treat them as adults. Just as the world does and how they are perceived. You won’t do them any favors by treating them like children when everyone else treats them like adults. In fact, you are hurting them. (Not that I speak from experience) You are not making them capable of creating and maintaining adult relationships. You aren’t teaching them action and consequence.
You have to make sure they understand actions, consequence and personal accountability and responsibility. Teach them compassion.
If you think raising your child to be outspoken and bold will work out. Ask their first co-worker or bosses. While these are good traits to have, they need to be tempered with respect and compromise. Because the real world isn’t about who is the biggest bad-ass. It’s about who has the work ethic and who gets the job done. Yelling at the boss about what you think is right or wrong isn’t going to get you promoted. It’s going to get you fired.
They will always be your babies, I get that. They will always need their mommy. But as adults, they need mommy to be truthful and honest and level them with the truth when they get too out of hand. When they need a reality check, to know they aren’t always right, they aren’t always wrong, but that they need to be still and listen to the other things. Mommy needs to be a steady rock.
Remember YOUR hopes and dreams you pinned on them…they may not be THEIR hopes and dreams. And that’s okay…you did NOTHING wrong. You gave them opportunity and hope. You gave them imagination and dreams. Now you have to let them find their way.
As your children grow up, you grow up. You learn things about yourself that you pushed aside and forgot about, long ago.
Children need to be taught that everyone has something to learn, all the time, at every age. I am 47 and I have yet to stop learning. Currently, I am learning that I don’t deserve to allow anyone to run all over me in the name of family and love. I don’t have to allow anyone to question my love or my integrity. No.one.
I am learning that no one is entitled to anything. Everything I have, I have worked my ass of to get. My whole life. No one has handed me a single solitary thing. At 47, I deserve what I have, I will share with those that deserve it and everyone else will have to take care of themselves. I am learning my self-respect isn’t tied to what others think of me, but what I know in my heart.
I am learning that I need to have patience and to bite my tongue. Because as your babies become adults, they have to learn so much…they aren’t the center of the universe. Nothing is handed to them. They will have to work, and work hard. They will need to learn patience, respect and compromise. There is much this world has to teach them…
…but without mommies, they wouldn’t even know how to tie their shoes.