Wednesday, August 14, 2013

11 things I've Learned in 11 Years of Parenting

What is it about parenting that makes humans feel the whole range of emotions in one single 24 hour period? Joy, excitement, frustration, anger, worry...You name it, we've felt it.

My oldest, BMV, turned 11 this week. And LC celebrated her 6th birthday over the weekend. Both of which numbers are making me feel old. Old and wise? Not necessarily. I do feel like I have grown up a bit with my kids. As they've grown, I've grown into my skin. So, in honor of their birthdays, and in honor of the fact that BMV made me a parent 11 years ago, I have a list of 11 things I have learned on my parenting journey.

1. Sometimes you are wrong and you have to say sorry.

2. No two kids are exactly alike. Okay, so we all know this, but we don't really know-know this until we have our own kids. I fell into the trap of thinking that my boys would be alike as would my girls, but they are all vastly different. Gender has little to do with it.

3. Some days you will want to cry with your kids. It is that frustrating. Just go ahead and let the tears flow.

4. Nothing makes a parent feel more helpless than a fever with no known explanation. You just want your kid to feel better. To not hurt.

5. Silence, sleep and solitude become the golden commodities. Priceless.

6. You will occasionally want a break from your kids. You will get it, and then you will be bored-not knowing what to do with yourself, and you will miss them like crazy and will be counting the hours until you see them again.

7. Being entrusted with this little person is the most daunting task you will ever face. The responsibility of teaching them about God, raising them to be Christ-like and responsible is our herculean call.

8. Parenting's alterante spelling would be g-r-a-c-e. The grace of God poured down on us in this gift of a child. The grace of God enabling us to do this job He has called us to do. Grace to overlook and forgive. Grace to enjoy the sunshine and ignore the dust. Grace to get up and nurture when you feel bone dry. Grace to thrive, not just survive, in this role. Grace upon grace upon grace.

9. Parenting is hard, but parenting is fun. Don't ever forget that. It is fun to laugh with your kids. To play charades with them. To hang out at the pool together. To sing together. To make up corny jokes together.

10. Parenting is a journey. It is seasonal. In the midst of parenting seasons, just like the yearly seasons, each season seems to drag on and on. Especially the tough ones like the newborn season or potty training season or teenager season. But, like yearly seasons, they are so temporary, fleeting. Here and gone. Embrace the unique joys of each season. Pray for grace for the trials of each season. Learn to hold these blessings tightly and loosely.

11. There is a lot of things you can't learn by reading a book. Parenting is one of those. Parenting is a very hands on job. You have to do it. Change the diapers, nurse the baby, give the baths, potty train. Just do it, be confident, and use common sense. Babies bounce...or something like that. Kids are more resilient than we would ever guess. Praise God!

11b. (aka-a bonus for my LC) Consistency is key. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you aren't consistent. And consistency needs to be tempered at the right times by mercy.

What have you learned on this journey of parenthood? What surprised you the most?