Everyone says parenting is the hardest, yet most rewarding, job you will ever have.
There are different stages, trials and tribulations that we have to go through in order to be comfortable with parenting. Then, just as soon as we get comfortable, things seem to change overnight.
I woke up one morning and had three budding tweens, and it is going to get harder too (or so other parents have told me). Suddenly I am desperately missing the sleepless nights. I long to look for missing pacifiers in every crevice of the damn house in order to soothe a baby and—oh!—tantrums. I will take a good old-fashioned tantrum over trying to raise a teen any day.
You have to raise them just so. You need to hang on enough to guide them, but let go enough so they can find their own way, make their own mistakes. How else will they grow?
It is scary. I am afraid I am going to screw it up. I can’t say to my future teenagers, “Don’t have sex.” We all know what happens there. I clearly remember all the things I didn’t do because my parents simply told me not to.
It’s probably not the best idea to say, “Yes! Have sex. It is fantastic, especially if you find that one special person who enjoys a cheeseburger with you after.” That is a little too encouraging.
We need to make our expectations clear, and hopefully give them the armor they need to make educated decisions. Then we have to let them live and hope for the best.
This raising a good, respectful, decent teenager is going to be the hardest parenting hurdle yet. I can think of 20 things that are probably easier:
1. Taking a moonlit swim in the ocean immediately after watching Jaws.
2. Performing a back bend after polishing off a chili cheese dog and a blooming onion.
3. Obtaining the family jewel from royalty.
4. Having three kids in diapers at once.
5. Growing delicate award-winning orchids in subzero temperatures.
6. Running a marathon uphill, while zombies are chasing you, and maintaining a low heart rate.
7. Slaying fire-breathing dragons with a toothbrush while wearing flammable clothing.
8. Shaving a lightning bolt onto your lady bits while nine months pregnant.
9. Trying to get out of Target before dropping $100.
10. Scraping your car off after an ice storm with a Lego.
11. Trying to potty train a 2-year-old who believes the toilet is going to eat his penis.
12. Picking up a waterlogged turd out of the bathtub with toothpicks.
13. Performing epic head spins on a bed of fire ants.
14. Dieting through the holidays while working at a bakery.
15. Training your dog to stop sniffing butts and crotches.
16. Becoming a professional tightrope walker with zero balancing skills.
17. Listening to fingernails scraping a chalkboard for three hours.
18. Eating only one Oreo while suffering from raging PMS when Oreos are the only available food source.
19. Getting through the world’s largest corn maze with three screaming toddlers.
20. Excelling at all of your New Year’s resolutions for the rest of your life.
I am sure I will mess up, overstep, not get involved enough, snoop too much, but I am OK with that.
I will be looking for those small, beautiful moments that helps us get through anything that is hard (you know, in between all of the drug/drinking/sex talks and the driving lessons). Because that is the thing about your kids—they are so worth it.