As far as parenting journeys go, mine is still in its toddler stages, literally and metaphorically – three years and counting. I know I have many more years ahead of me, where I will undoubtedly learn more than I ever bargained for. However, even in three short years of imperfect parenting, these 10 truths keep coming back to me…
1. You will feel guilty. No matter what you choose to do – breastfeed or bottle feed, sleep train or not, go back to work or stay at home – you will feel guilty a lot of the time. You will question your choices, because other people will, whether out loud or in their minds, which will in turn, make you feel guilty. I’ve learned to accept my choices, whether they’re ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they are the choices made for the good of my children, for our family. Guilt comes with the territory, I get that now.
2. You will get angry. Anger – a dangerous, terrible emotion, especially when it’s directed at your children, your spouse, and yourself. You will also find that you may get mad at complete strangers, such as that impatient driver who cut you off. Or the lady in front of you at the checkout counter at the grocery store, for moving too slowly. Personally, when I find myself on a short fuse, it’s because I’m tired. Fatigue does not do you favors. I can’t give you advice on how to squeeze in more down time or sleep, I can only tell you that you should.
3. You will feel incompetent. When I had Monkey, I felt like a bumbling idiot all the time, and half-expected someone to come knocking on my door to tell me to give my son back, because I was doing such a terrible job as his mother. Three years in, I know I’m not terrible. But I have moments of perceived incompetence. No matter how many pats on the back I give myself, I still feel this way.
4. You will get competitive. When you have friends and relatives who have children of the same age, forget trying to avoid competitiveness. Yes, you may say, but I don’t brag! However, you’re silently pleased when you find out your daughter walked way before your best friend’s son, or that your boy scored higher on his English test than your best friend’s child. It’s inevitable.
5. You will be resentful (sometimes.) If I said I don’t think about my time pre-children, and how carefree and fun it was then, I’d be lying. I’d also be lying if I said I am absolutely 100% not resentful. Sometimes, I am. I resent that I have little time to myself. I resent that I have barely slept since 2009. Sometimes. Just sometimes. I do not however, regret having children.
6. You will be joyful. I do not regret having children – how could I? Everyday, they make me joyful. Even through the challenges, there is much to be happy for. The smiles, the hugs, the hand holding, just being with each other, being family – pure joy.
7. You will be more appreciative. When you become a parent, you appreciate your parents more (hands up, if you’ve thought about calling your mom to apologize, and thank her) . You appreciate your spouse more. You appreciate yourself more. You appreciate the extra 10 minutes you get, any time of the day. You appreciate coffee a lot more. If you’re a parent, you’ll know what I mean.
8. You will be wiser. You will learn to pick your battles. You will learn when to give up, and when not to. You will learn that love is deep. You will learn that fears abound in every corner and there is nary you can do about it. You will learn that your heart is so much bigger than you thought possible. You will learn that you have it in you to fight for your children.
9. You will be humbled. Parenting is a truly humbling experience. I thought I knew it all, could do it all. I know now, that I don’t and I can’t, and it’s okay.
10. You will be loved. My children’s love is pure. When I look into their eyes, when they put their chubby hands around mine, all there is, is love. And that is all.