I can clearly remember how excited I was when I found out I was going to be a daddy. I was 18 years old and newly wed to the love of my life. I was on cloud nine and we both thought we would have this parenting thing in check.
I was 19 when our son (our first child) was born. It took all of 30 minutes after getting home from the hospital for us to realize we had no freaking clue what we were doing. We hit the panic button on our phones and were crying to our parents.
We did get our bearings and figured out a few things about parenting as we had two more children. Our oldest is now 15 and in high school.
Parenting can be incredibly rewarding or a pain in the you-know-what. There are some things that life experience will teach you. Here are five things no one tells you about being a parent.
1. There will be times when you can't stand your kids.
We all know those parents who say parenting is always wonderful, but I think we'll agree they're a little off. Parenting is a joy, but sometimes our kids make us want to scream. They hide things, they lie and they fight. They do one or the other everyday. There is no off switch and you have to be on guard.
There will be more times than you can count when you'll need a vacation from your kids. There will be times when they do things that will have you scratching your head. The only thing you can do is try to remember how we were when we were kids, and try to guide them to the right decision. Our responsibility as a parent is to teach and guide our children to embrace what makes them special.
2. It's a lifelong, 24/7 commitment.
When we have children, we know that we'll be parents for life, but what we don't realize is that you're on call 24/7 and that never ends. When they have problems, you have to be there. When they eventually go off on their own and have problems, guess who they're calling?
Be prepared to put your kids' needs before your own. You don't have to have all the answers, but you do have to be prepared to be that shoulder for them to cry on. Take some time for you, of course, but commit to doing something that's bigger than yourself.
3. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to deal with problems.
Wouldn't life be great if you could just use one method to deal with your kids every time? All of our children are different and have to be handled in the best way to fit their unique personalities. Trying to do the same thing for each child will only lead to extra stress for yourself.
We shouldn't try to get them to conform; we should teach them that they are special just the way they are. There are enough parents who will teach their kids to always color within the lines, but just outside of those lines is where the magic happens.
4. All the parenting books in the world won't help.
Don't get me wrong; there are some books that can help you with a few things. However, parenting is a unique experience and there are no books for some of the crazy situations you'll deal with.
A lot of things you'll figure out on your own, or in all reality, you'll learn from your mistakes. Read some trusted parenting books to get a clue, but prepare to be quick on your feet and ready to handle the unexpected. Learn how to write your own manual and go back to it when you need it.
5. Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do.
Parenting is a hard job that doesn't hand out raises for a job well done. There will be times when you question why you even had kids. Despite the craziness and chaos, children are amazing. They're the best of us and have the opportunity to do all the things we've always wanted for our life.
Children are a joy and privilege that we get to experience. They are our legacy and will carry our heritage to the next generation. There are many who would love to be parents, but don't have that opportunity. Being able to parent children is something we should always be grateful for, even in the hard times.
It would be nice if everything always went as planned with parenting, but this isn't a movie and that's not reality. During the times when you feel like you want to pull your hair out, take a step back and breath.
Take a nap, turn on some music, but remember that no matter what, you'll be OK. You will live to parent another day and your kids will be just fine. Embrace the chaos and do the best job you can. Your reward will be those beautiful reflections of you.
What are some things you figured out along your parenting journey?
Photo: Author's own