Friday, February 14, 2014

Parenting...We Are Friends, Kind Of

So, here's the thing, I have been a parent for the past 15 years and during this time I have learned many things.  Tonight some of those lessons are heavy on my heart.  My sister and sister in law wrote blogs that talked about parenting which made me think...a lot.   Then a great girl I worked with said some wise words to me today.  Wise words about being a good mother.  Really wise words.  Before I go to bed I would like to share my thoughts.

One, before I became a parent I was chock full of public service announcements on how to raise my sweet, perfect angels.  I was full of them until the day they flew out of my womb in all their glory.  That day was a game changer to say the least.  I learned very quickly that everyone will have a million opinions on how wrong you are doing it.  How much you should learn from them.  These opinions were amped up even more by the fact I was a Catholic girl that got married while pregnant.  Can you imagine the scandal?  Can you imagine the judgment?  Most of the time the opinions are unsolicited and totally negative.  They deflate you as a parent and they hurt even more when you find out they are shared openly and with others.  It has taken me 15 years to know that these opinions DO NOT matter.  My parenting is done with my husband.  We are a team that only consults with each other {and maybe one or two other special friends}.  Our parenting also comes with loads of prayers.  I mean... dump trucks of prayers.

Which brings me to my second lesson on parenting...I have had almost no pride when it comes to parenting.  Only in the sacredness of my shower {true story} do I let myself feel a small sense of pride or accomplishment.  Don't get me wrong, as a person I am the most prideful, arrogant human being but when it comes to my parenting my insecurities are huge.  I spend most of my time talking with family and friends about my struggles and asking in complete humility and truth to pray for us and them.  I will never, ever agree that my children are the bomb dot com because that is damaging for them and, most importantly, for us.  I give kudos where needed but let the chips fall where they may.  As a side note from lesson #2, I will caution you to be selective about your prayer warriors.  Some of my friendly Christians are not always so Christian like in your confessions.  My mama bear needs to come out more when discussing my concerns about my children.  My hope is that I am surrounded by people who truly want the best for us and them.

Thirdly, USE YOUR PARENTS!  For those of us lucky enough to have incredible parents, be grateful and humble enough to take their lessons and adopt them as your own.  We are lucky that we both have incredible parents.  Shawn was an outstanding kid.  He is a hard worker, treats people better than himself and has limitless integrity.  Those are the only things that matter.  Those things came from his parents.  I am a selfless mother with a huge heart and maybe known to be pretty fun.  These are the things that matter... I got them from my parents.  If my kids only walk away with these traits then, boom!  I win this parenting gig with flying colors.  Sure, I want them to be millionaires, to be heroes, to be professionally successful or profoundly religious but more important I want them to be good people that make other people into good people.  Like our parents did.

Last lesson, after 15 years, 5 amazing children, 1 adoption and a million problems from the start to now... I know this to be true.  No aspect of your life or the lives of your children are prepared or planned for.  There are unforeseen pitfalls everywhere.  You can't avoid them.  You need to learn how to have faith and trust in your ability to parent through them.  So that one day, when you are not around, your kid parents themselves.  It is my greatest hope that the lessons I have instilled in my children, due to the love we conducted them with, not necessarily the wisdom or pride, will guide them all the days of their lives.  They won't live with me forever.  I can not be there every step of the way.  I have to trust in their abilities and have faith in their strong wills and independent spirits. 

Finally... parenting sucks.  There are no magic handbooks, secret passwords or fantastical gurus to tell you how to do it.   Parenting will break your heart, steal your soul, drain your brain and leave you penniless.  But, if done right parenting will teach you more about yourself than you ever dreamed possible and it will make you a better person than when you started.  It will also make you more gentle and empathetic to other parenting soldiers who are in the trenches.  You can't save them but you can make sure they know they are not alone.  We are all in this battle together and the best thing we can do to help each other is to be kind.  Be Kind.  Be Loving.  Be Less Judgemental.  Be Prayerful.  Be Considerate.  Be Humble.  Parenting is not your friend, but if chosen correctly, other parents can be your friends.

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