When I dreamt of being a parent, I would often imagine all the things that I would teach my children. Never in a million years did I think that they would have so much to teach me. These parenting lessons come up nonstop through out my day, pretty much every day. They are sometimes glaringly obvious and other times they get easily overlooked in the bustle of the day. Most days I am open to them but there are days when it is difficult to see past my haze of exhaustion and frustration. This list parenting lessons is by no means things that I have fully mastered but lessons my children regularly bring to my attention and are a constant work in progress.
Patience. As obvious as this lesson is, it is often the most difficult to master. The consistent level of patience needed as a parent is sometimes beyond my comprehension. It is impossible to predict when I will need it, how much and for what reason. Just having to repeat the same thing over and over, day after day is enough to drive me mad. But it’s my kids job to push boundaries, question authority and assert their independence and it’s my job to try my best to patiently guide them through it.
Gratitude. When my kids are driving me crazy and I have spent most of the day doing thankless, menial task like changing crappy diapers, scrubbing dried pee off of toilets or washing mounds of laundry, it is hard to be grateful. It’s really easy to be annoyed and complain that nobody appreciates me. But then I hear my oldest comforting one of the little ones or my toddler tells me “Wuv You” in his little voice or my 4 year old licks my face (yes…licks instead of kisses) and then I remember why I spend my days doing all those little seemingly unimportant tasks.
Tenacity. It’s easy to give up when things don’t go the way I want but being a parent means I don’t get to throw in the towel. Parenting often doesn’t go the way I want it to but no matter how difficult it gets or how tired I am, I have to keep going. No matter how much my kids may hate me for something I did or how much I feel like I may have failed them, I get up another day to give it yet another try because I will never stop being their mom.
Communication. Communicating with kids is key and it requires quite a variation of skills. I yell, I whisper, I sing, have serious one-on-one talks and open discussions at dinner. I have had conversations I don’t want to have and conversations they don’t want to hear. I try my best to let them know my door is always open because I want them to always feel they can come to me. As they get older, I know the need for communication will become greater while their willingness to do so won’ t be so easy. It is constant, ever changing and exhausting but so very necessary.
Forgiveness. As I have stated many times before, I mess this mom thing up regularly. I yell, I make the wrong decision, I push when I should back off, I don’t always listen when my kids need me to hear them. But time after time, they are able to let it go and still want kisses and cuddles from me at the end of the day. I can’t say that this will hold true through the teen years but for now I will bask in their ability to forgive my parenting indiscretions.
Letting Go. I am beginning to realize that parenting seems to be a ongoing series of learning to let go. We have to let go of the cuddly stages of babyhood and the fun yet frustrating stages of toddlerhood. We have to let go of control and responsibility for their actions and let them grow up and become their own person. Because ideally if we are doing our job right as parents they should need us less and less as they get older and older. And after spending so much of our lives watching over our kiddos, it is hard to step back and hand the reigns over to them even if it is just a little at a time.
Humility. Raising kids is probably the most humbling thing I have experienced. It started from day one when I pooped on the delivery table (yes, that really happens) and it hasn’t stopped since…toddler tantrums in the middle of the grocery store, kids loudly repeating not so nice words in public or just outright refusing to listen. They have a knack for keeping me grounded through this parenting journey because the moment I think I got this parenting gig down, my kids flip the switch on me and set the record straight giving yet another lesson to add to my list.
Elisha Beach is a stay-at-home mom to four kids and stepmom to 4 step-“adults”…Yes, you read that right—eight kids. She is a wife, home cook, taxi driver, herder of children, terrible housekeeper and founder of The Mom Forum.
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