When I was a teenager, I regularly thought about the kind of parent I would be.
I was completely convinced that I had it all figured out, and when the time rolled around to mother my own family – I would be equipped with predetermined sketches of how to deal with each situation. I thought a good parent should let you do everything you wanted, without question, because they trusted you. I believed that I would be playing with them everyday, and would have no concern for getting homework, practicing, or jobs done. And, I was sure that “good parents” gave you whatever you wanted. But now that I’m a Mother, I’ve realized I have a new definition.
You see, “A good mother” for me, is changing a million poopie diapers, and driving endless hours delivering kids to lessons. It’s saying “NO” when you have to, and yes whenever it’s possible. It’s lots of laughter and lots of tears, it’s unlike any story you’ve ever read. It’s “time outs” and privileges taken away. It’s snuggling your beautiful baby through tired sleepless eyes. It’s feeding, over and over again. It’s LOTS of questions. It’s crazy bad hair days, and dirty ‘spit up’ shirts. It’s crying in bed when you think nobody will see you, because you care so much. It’s giving encouragement and feeling endless frustration. It’s blowing on tummies and relentless tickling, to hear that perfect laugh – one more time. It’s dishes, dishes, and more dishes. It’s lots of bath times with chubby babies and nursery rhymes, It’s more laundry than you could ever imagine! It’s setting up playdates, and watching your barely clean house fall back into it’s normal imperfect state. It’s pretty pink princess dresses and every model of toy car ever made. It’s trying to learn math, all over again. It’s hearing the word “mom” more times than you could count, every hour. It’s watching your child coo, learn to speak, hearing them confess endless love for you, and trying not to hear when they “hate” you – because you know someday, they’ll understand how it feels when they hear the same thing from their child. It’s having a curfew, and working for a friendship – amidst boundaries. It’s sitting in a car, as your baby learns to drive, and praying for both of your lives to be spared. It’s watching boys gawk at your baby girl, and ask them on dates. It’s watching your baby boy, and praying that some day, they will treat someone else’s princess, the way you hope someone will treat yours. It’s watching them leave, over and over again, without them realizing that a piece of – your heart – is leaving with them, until they return. It’s holding onto the reigns, as long as you can – slowly letting them loser – year, after year, after year. It’s watching your babies heart brake when they are learning how to navigate relationships with friends. It’s waking up, each day, with a renewed determination to make it the best, even though you’re still trying to get over the last (not best) day. It’s being challenged on your every decision, even within your own mind. It’s trying to merge two (or more) ways of parenting into one home – sometimes successfully, and other times, not so much. Parenting, is not leaving when things get hard. It’s watching the woman inside your daughter, step out, one day at a time. It’s the man inside your son, step out, one day at a time. It’s helping your child launch into the adult role, and hoping they pay their bills, make good decisions, and take care of themselves and loved ones. It’s also knowing that you’ve done your best, and it’s time for them to make their own decisions – however good, or bad. It’s watching your baby walk, hand in hand towards their own marriage, and away from your home – one last time. It’s holding onto your daughter, knowing that there is a baby inside of her, and soon you will be a Grandparent. It’s beautiful. It’s hard. It’s the reason we are here on earth – to learn love, through parenting.
I like my new definition better, anyways.