When you become a parent, there is usually a chorus of “congratulations” and “hold on tight, it’s going to be a ride” coming from those who are close to you or, frankly, anyone who sees you. In the beginning, it’s not so much hard as it is scary. The day you bring a baby home and look at it and think “what the hell am I supposed to do now?” hits you like a tonne of bricks. It’s the day you realize that you are truly responsible for another human being and a helpless one at that. Luckily, for most, those moments only last a short while and you quickly move past them and get into the swing of things.
Then life takes hold and all of those lines you were fed suddenly become painfully clear. Time really does speed up, to a pace which rivals light speed. Before you know it, you’re facing the terrible twos, which have nothing on the terrors of a three-year old. Suddenly your baby isn’t a baby, she’s a toddler then all of a sudden you’re standing in an elementary school waiting to register for kindergarten and you’re thinking “WTF? How did I get here?” Once your child enters school, it’s almost like time isn’t measured in months anymore, it’s either “the school year” or “summer”…holy fruit nut batman, where does the time go? You negotiate the school years with grace, charm, twists, turns, bumps, and pitfalls BUT you make it. It’s graduation day. What now?
Somehow along a timeline that has been put in super fast-forward, you negotiate the waters of parenting and you start to realize two things. First, you realize you start to sound an awful lot like your parents did and second, that your parents were generally right.
I am in a tight parenting spot right now. If you take the baby bird analogy, as provided by my dear BIL, STech, we have a baby bird in need of a mighty kick out of the nest. The hard part about that is we know our baby bird is going to struggle with the fall. We know that she may not flap her wings until the very last possible second. We have to have faith that she will flap those wings of hers and take off into flight.
As her Mom, albeit her step-mom, it is heart-wrenching to watch her be scared and confused. I feel that same fear and confusion but for different reasons. I fear that if we don’t push her to independence she will never get there. I fear that if we continue to swoop in and make everything alright, she will never learn how to make things alright for herself. I’m confused because I never wanted to be in a position where I had to push one of my children out of the nest when they don’t have a job or anywhere to do. I’ve been there. It sucks. Big time. I am worried about how she will make out, out on her own. Will she fall back into a cycle of poor decisions? Will she get herself into a sticky situation? I guess time will tell that.
Parenting is so hard and it gets harder as time goes on. It is exhilarating and confusing and frustrating and rewarding and simultaneously the most difficult and the most incredible thing I have ever done. I pray that I have the strength to guide my children onto the right paths while respecting their ability, need and want to make their own decisions. I pray that our family will pull through the raising of three children, all from very different foundations. I pray for the day that we have a big family dinner, the days when my hair will be more salt than pepper, and I can look around my table, at my beautiful children, and see the successful outcome of much laughter and many tears and so many years of hard work.
I want my children to look back at their lives and remember that their parents supported them. Maybe not in the ways they would have liked but that we were there, with love in our hearts and resolution in our spirits.