Monday, August 12, 2013

It's Not Always What We Expected

But sometimes it's something much better.

I think one of the most surprising things I've learned about raising a child is that I'm not raising a mini-me. I used to think that having a baby was like having a tiny version of yourself, and you would know how to raise that baby based on your own character and experiences. In other words, since I understand myself pretty well, of course I would always understand what my child – my own flesh and blood, a creation from my very own womb – needed.

Oh, wait – there was another person involved in the creation of that flesh and blood, and some traits come from him. AND, even more surprisingly, it turns out that the little being actually develops personality traits of its very own that are an enigma even to both parents.

I mean, how can anyone not like mashed potatoes? It's just bizarre.

So I have discovered that raising a child is not an opportunity to re-raise myself. Instead I have the pleasure of raising this unique individual unlike any other who has ever walked this earth.
Most Important Thing About ParentingThat means realizing that although we're alike in many ways, she's not always going to make sense to me.

I was an introvert who barely spoke; all she wants to do is talk.

I was a bit of a tomboy; she is obsessed with princesses.

I think mashed potatoes are like manna from heaven.

Parenting Not What You ExpectedWe are two different souls – woven together by an eternal love that knows no bounds, but different, nonetheless. And the truth is it's probably best that I'm not raising another little version of myself because I'm still raising me (and I've got a long way to go).

That's part of the beauty of parenthood – it's full of surprises. It's totally one of those gigs where you really don't know what you're getting into until you actually dive in.

Introverted Mom Extroverted ChildI had no idea that ‘mommy blogging’ was such a big ‘thing’ until I started my own blog, and when I delved into the world of online sharing, I discovered that mommies everywhere – stay at home, working, homeschooling, and even dads – were baring their souls to the Internet.

Why is that? Why are there so many parents out there willing to share their private thoughts, their struggles, their failures, and their triumphs with the world?

It’s because it really is one of the most important things we’ll ever do – raising these little people up to be honorable adults – and we’re all battling the same foes. We’re all trying to escape those thoughts that rise up within us that we're not good enough, that we're failing, that so-and-so is doing a better job than us because he/she does x, y, and z...

Let me tell you something: I guarantee you that you’ve never had a single emotion that has never been felt by another human being on this earth. We all doubt. We all fail. We all question ourselves. That's why so many of us choose to share these things – to know that we're not alone and to tell another struggling human being that he/she is not alone either.

By all means, try to be a perfect parent. But know that you will not be.

Sometimes she will talk and talk and talk, and it will drive me nuts, and I will get impatient. Sometimes she and her brother will run circles around me, and I will lose my temper. Sometimes I won't know the right thing to say because I won't know exactly what she's feeling.

And yet we were chosen for each other. I'm meant to be her mama, and she's meant to be my baby. We were uniquely designed to go through this life together.

Nothing else on earth brings me more joy.

It's not always easy. It's not always predictable. It's not always what we imagined. But do you know what makes you a good parent? Taking it seriously. Knowing its worth.

It's recognizing that you're in a relationship unlike any you've ever had before and that you can make it something great. This is your gift, your joy, and your privilege – to get to know your child every day and to guide her in becoming the best she can possibly be.

I don't want her to be exactly like me – I want her to be better than me. And that's worth more than all the parenting books can ever say.