29 November, 2017

The Parenting Gig - A Mom's Musings

(Image courtesy : The Mother Diaries via Google)

We hear people saying this to us more often nowadays ‘Parenting should not be tough for you guys anymore.  The kids are all grown up so you guys can breathe easy.  It’s not difficult anymore’. 

Hmmm… those statements can't be further away from the truth.  I'm not talking just about us.  I guess I speak for every single parent out there. 

Parenting IS tough, no matter how grown up your kids may be.  

Hell, I still drive my mom nuts !

When couples or single parents decide to step into parenting, it is pretty much like taking a leap of faith, many times over, off a plane in the sky, with a parachute strapped on.  There are times when the said parachute opens and there will be times when the said parachute refuses to open, claiming defects of some sort of the other.  Either ways, once a parent, the onus to land on terra firma becomes a necessity because it is not just the parent that the parent needs to look out for, it is the child / children as well.

When Macadamia and Pecan were newborns, small babies, toddlers, little children, there have been so many such instances that we’ve been through.  Some days all was well, some days all was not well.  There were days when we felt we were doing fine at the parenting gig, there were days when we felt we were absolute supremos at this parenting gig and then there was many a time when we felt all we did was wrong, that we were falling short as parents all the time, that we were the biggest living blunders on this planet.

Once one embarks on this journey called parenting, at every given stage of your child’s life, the doubts that make their way into your mind are constant.  The questions are unrelenting, they are insistent and they are remorseless.  Irrespective of whether you’ve had a good night’s sleep or whether you haven’t been able to sleep a wink for days together, the questions and doubts continue their onslaught on a parent’s mind.

‘Should I have got my child into a playgroup to learn social skills ?’ to ‘Should my child have been potty trained by now ?’ to ‘Am I communicating enough with my teen ?’ to ‘Should my kids be pushing themselves as much as they are, right now ?’ to 'Am I being too easy on them ?' to ‘Are they getting enough sleep ?’, the questions simply continue to flow.  They never stop.  Children move from one phase of growth to another but the questions continue to surface and evolve.

When Macadamia and Pecan were little, I remember not having slept for nights together because both of them were horrible when it came to sleeping.  There have been times when Pecan used to wake up the minute I got to bed.  There have been numerous times when Macadamia has woken up multiple times in the night and screamed or cried – just like that.  Even at times like those, body totally exhausted, mind slipping out of control, one part of your mind wanting to throw in the towel, parents still tend to look at their kids and say ‘Yes love.  What’s the matter ?’

There have been times when both of them used to be sick at the same time and I remember couple of such instances in particular when I got puked on so many times during the night that we actually ran out of sheets and pillow covers.  I clearly remember being at the very end of my tether.  In the wee hours of the morning, both sick babies fell asleep and I vividly remember looking around at the house - which looked like a disaster zone - things strewn here, there, everywhere, piles of laundry to be done and there I was, in my crumpled pajamas, hair disheveled and wild eyed - but I remember I could not bring myself to move.  Yet, life went on.  W
e managed, as have numerous other parents the world over.

Yes, extreme exhaustion is a thing.  It exists.  At some point of time or the other on the parenting road, every single person does reach that point of no return in terms of being exhausted but we grit our teeth, pull up our socks and carry on.  Because we simply have to.  

Earlier in the year, I was rather acutely aware of the fact that there was every possibility that Macadamia would take off to some university in some other part of the world.  Darn !!  That brought to the fore those two words again – ‘letting go’ – the two words that are eternally scripted onto the book called ‘Things parents need to learn’.  Not easy.  Far from it.  But parents the world over do it - they learn to let go - not because they want to - but simply because they have to.

I stepped into parenthood 18 years ago.  Don’t you go about having any illusions of it having been as easy as stepping into a pair of well worn shoes.  It was more like wiggling my feet into shoes that were a couple of sizes small.  Heck !  I didn’t even know how to hold a newborn properly when Macadamia was born.  I was clumsy, it felt awkward and there were always those questions that I talked about earlier – unrelenting and incessant – making me feel all the more inadequate.  Eighteen years back is a long time but those memories are so vivid.  Macadamia was a colicky baby and there have been plenty of times when I felt hopelessly out of place, incompetent as a mom.

But I learnt, as does every new parent.  That’s pretty much what it is – parenting teaches you something new every single step of the way.  Right from realizing that you hurt more when your child hurts to understanding that letting go is never as easy or practical as it is made to sound.

Through all these years, parenthood has taught me many hard truths.  Every single one of those learning experiences has left its mark in its own inimitable way.  Parenting has its own way of turning feelings of helplessness into those of toughness and resilience, of turning weaknesses into cores of strengths. 

This one goes out to all the new parents out there and all the parents to be.  Parenting IS tough.  Through it all, you will probably realize just as I have (somewhere along the way) that parenting is not about making things perfect.  It is about realizing, accepting how much fun and how complete life is, with all those little imperfect bits.  It is about consciously appreciating the imperfections that make each individual what he or she is, valuing and welcoming the wholesomeness that the said imperfection brings with it.

Parenting is not about life being any easier because the kids have grown up.  It is about those complications that have a permanent place in one’s life, about how those complexities turn into little pieces of truth and wisdom and how those, in turn, embed themselves into your family, your psyche and serve to make your whole family one wholesome unit fused by togetherness.

Trust me, there will be times when you will feel like throwing in the towel, but you won’t.  You may cry, you may scream out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, you may weep out of fear and that feeling of incompetence, you may throw things, you may break things but – you will still trudge on, you will continue to carry on, you will grit your teeth and scale that mountain called parenting, you will continue caring for and nurturing the lives you were instrumental in bringing into this world.

Parenting, sometimes, is not just difficult, it is impossible. Yet, you will carry on.  That mantra then embeds itself in your heart and mind  -

'Impossible - Yes, it does feel that way sometimes.

Difficult - It has always been.  It still is. It always will be. 

Carry on and give it my best - Yes, I will.  We will.’

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