Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Two Biggest Lessons of Parenthood

Parenthood changes a person. The focus shifts away from you in the blink of an eye. Your priorities change.... Big. Time. Your fancy salon visits suddenly take a back seat to gymnastics classes and field trips. These changes are a natural part of the process. But some lessons take more time to digest. During my tenure as a mother, I've learned many things, but two things stand out as most useful:

1. If you can't find an answer, it's because there isn't one. From teaching a baby to learn to sleep well to expanding a child's palette to potty training, the best thing you can do is embrace the lack of control. Throw your hands up and envision your child at age 18. You'll feel refreshed and rejuvenated by what your imagination reveals. No more slogging around, coffee cup permanently affixed to your hand in a lame attempt to shake off the ever-present exhaustion thanks to the last six moths of all-night baby juggling. No more begging and pleading to "just try a bite of salmon." No more diaper changes! While you're waiting for your hypothetical grown child to step forth from the shadows, try to mediate regularly on the thought of that self-sufficient future child. And know that, though no solution is evident at present, it's will be ok. Someday.

2. If the thought stresses you out, it's because your child isn't ready. Since becoming a mother, whenever I feel stressed out about a big change in my life - without fail! - it's because my children aren't there yet. The more I let my children take the lead and show me that they're ready, the easier any transition becomes. Starting school. Sleepovers. Potty training. (There it is again!) When it comes to big milestones, let them run the show. Everyone will be a lot happier for it.

The thing about parenthood is that you never stop learning or evolving. As my children get older, I'm sure I'll gain insight and experience into how to handle their more mature stages and issues. But I know I'll always look to these two tenets to help guide my parenting style.