Parents are challenged everyday by their children. If you’re a parent, you know this is constant with children and truly the first thing with which they are consistent. One day you’re an adult living the life, sleeping when you can or maybe even when you want, then, bam, you are up all night watching someone just breathe. Wait, is she breathing? Maybe I’d better put my hand on her chest ever so slightly just to make sure. Now of course the ever so slightly doesn’t matter much if she isn’t breathing, right, so somewhere deep inside your hibernating new parent brain you know you’re making your touch as light as possible because you know she’s breathing. If you thought she weren’t you’d be pulling her tiny body out of that crib forcing the breath of life into her. But when you become a parent and are faced with so many new challenges, the first thing to leave your body after the baby leaves is rationality. Once you’ve checked her for airflow, you manage to head back to your bed that has lost the gentle form of your body because you no longer visit it as you used to, and try to sleep. Then she wakes screaming. She can’t speak yet, so your new challenge is to find out why the hell she’s awake at this precise moment and fix it. Now!
They grow, babies do, and they grow quickly. Parenting challenges only grow from here. Toddlers fall. Do I save her, run to her, make sure she’s not broken or do I just laugh it off and pretend it didn’t happen? Relaxed parents often do the latter, learning quickly that if toddler thinks you didn’t see it happen then it must not have happened and therefore there is no pain involved. Unless. Unless there’s actually pain involved. Then you are challenged with the parent guilt that comes with why the hell did I just stand there and do nothing while my little person fought with gravity?
Challenges continue to grow. Mommy, can I have dinner? Can I have a snack? Daddy, give me! No! I can’t. I don’t want to. No, I don’t want to. Can I have it? I have it! Mine! No. Mine. Don’t wanna! Emma Noma Pee! I want toepees! Want toepees! Mommy. I want to carry you!
These challenges are cute. And then bam! Just like that they are no longer cute. The kids often remain cute, even with snaggle teeth they want to show you every moment of each day. Even with purple stained smiles and chocolate cheeks, they are still cute kids. But their challenges go from cute to…well challenging. Homework is introduced. Tests, social interactions, and rigid schedules. They begin to see that life isn’t easy, one cannot just say mine and no and make it so. And they get pissed!
This year has been a tough one for our family. We were faced with bullying at school, untrained staff at school, no policy in a no tolerance state and heads that turned every which way but ours. We switch schools with five weeks left in the school year. Talk about a challenge! We found out our children were behind academically, socially and they were facing new challenges on every level.
One teacher emailed me this week. She assured me our children are not as behind as we thought. Actually one is two grade levels ahead in a few areas, on par in others and only has a few ‘holes.’ She ended her email with, “You honestly are raising a very successful, intelligent, capable, and talented daughter. Enjoy it.”
So today I walk into the world, I push my children out there, knowing we are challenged every day in life. But we are still doing it, and as long as we are doing it, we are okay. Enjoy it! That note from a teacher we’ve only known for a few weeks brought tears to my eyes and took me back to when parenting challenges were fun. Like playing a game rather than trying to solve world hunger with one burger. To her, I bow down and say thank you. To you, I say Enjoy It! Nothing lasts forever, babyhood, toddlerhood, even elementary school will end one day. Slow down, breathe in and breathe out. Give hugs, take hugs when offered and enjoy it.
Make today a great day, and make note of one challenge and how you managed it.