Tuesday, April 5, 2016

13 Lessons Learned From 13 Years of Parenting

I remember it vividly. My husband and I, newlyweds and not yet parents, were walking through a busy shopping mall hand in hand. We passed a frazzled young mom who had a screaming toddler in her arms and all her packages in the stroller. I naively said to my hubby, "I will never understand why parents do that! The stroller is for the kid. Why doesn't she just strap him in and go home?"

A few years later when I had my first daughter, I, of course, did the exact same thing more times than I could count. I became the frazzled mom with a crying kid in my arms and bags in the stroller. Without a doubt, passers by thought I was nuts. I learned my lesson.

In fact, my oldest daughter is now 13 years old and we have two other daughters as well, ages 11 and 8. They (whoever "they" are) say experience is the best teacher and I have certainly learned a few things in my 13 years as a mom.
  1. Pick Your Battles - We hear this one all the time, but it's true. Is it really going to matter tomorrow, in a year, in ten years, that her clothes don't match today? That he really needs to take his Transformer with him? 
  2. Everyone has struggles - While you envy that your friend's daughter eats avocado and tofu while you can't get yours to eat anything but chicken nuggets, she is probably jealous that your daughter actually sleeps through the night while her two year old is still waking up multiple times. Our parenting struggles are different, but we all have them.
  3. Don't judge other parents - You don't know their struggles, so when you see that frazzled mom at the mall, don't judge her like I did once.
  4. "This too shall pass" - Despite how it feels at the moment, the tantrum will end. Your child WILL sleep through the night and be potty trained, too - eventually. All the phases will end a some point - just hang on a little longer.
  5. Trust your gut - No one knows your child better than you. Trust your instincts.
  6. You cannot do it alone - Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It really does take a village to raise a child, so find your village and let them help you. Remember that you may be part of someone else's village, too.
  7. Life rarely turns out the way you had planned - I'm a Type A planner and organization freak, but when you have kids, your "plan" becomes merely a framework for how you hope things will work out; simply a guideline to curb the chaos ever so slightly.
  8. Sometimes, you just have to let it go - The messes, the craziness, the less than perfect; it's all okay, I promise. Stop stressing about the little things and try to find the blessings hidden inside the pandemonium.
  9. Nothing can bring you as much happiness as your child's laughter. - Not a bigger house or a fancier car; not a skinnier physique or a bigger salary. Nothing is as precious as their laughter and joy.
  10. Nothing is as peaceful as a sleeping child - Nothing.
  11. There is a completely different level of fear - Think you were afraid that time you went bungee jumping or interviewed for that big promotion? I guarantee it pales in comparison to the fear you feel the first time your kid chokes on a piece of candy or when you think about handing them the keys and watching them drive away alone.
  12. Seasons change, but it doesn't really get easier. Sure, my kids are now potty-trained and can tie their own shoes, but we have other challenges like eighth grade math homework about perfect square trinomials (huh??) and whose turn it is to sit in the front seat of the minivan every. single. time. we go somewhere. We're navigating puberty, social media, and high school choices. It's not really easier or harder - just different
  13. At the end of the day, if everyone is happy, healthy, and safe, that's all that really matters. Anything else is just icing on the cake.
At the end of the day, if everyone is happy, healthy, and safe, that's all that really matters. Anything else is just icing on the cake. #TuesdayTen @TheGoldenSpoons
I'm certainly not a parenting expert. I'm sure I've made plenty of mistakes and will probably make plenty more before all my girls leave the nest. I have to remind myself, though, to see the big picture. My girls know they are loved beyond measure, that I am doing the very best I can, and that they are the most important thing in my life. As long as I can say that much with confidence, I think we'll all be just fine. 

This post is part of the Tuesday Ten linkup hosted Rabia of The Liebers and me on the first Tuesday of the month. Want to join the fun? Link up your own list of 10 (or more!) below and join our Facebook group for future reminders and ideas!

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