I put it out to my Facebook friends to give me a topic to write about, as I had not done a blog in over a week, and I was itching to write about something. After a few suggestions, some good and some bad (shoes? Really, Julie?), the idea of writing about my kids was the choice I went with. First, because more than one person thought it was a good idea, and secondly, because I really do have some things to say on the subject. I hope that I do a worthy job of conveying my thoughts on my children and my parenting, over the years.
Where do I start?
How does one truly encapsulate the raw emotion that is created within a person when they have a child? To put to words all the things that only a parent can understand. It’s a daunting task, to say the least. Especially, considering the fact that the people without kids, will read it and either “think” they understand, which they don’t, or become saddened by the fact that they have yet to experience it, which they shouldn’t. Ultimately, this will just be a small glimpse into what my life, as a parent, has been like.
Raising children is the most difficult experience that a human being can have, while simultaneously being the most completely joyous. Not a day goes by in which I don’t want to beat the crap outta my kids at some point, yet the love I have for them is deeper and stronger than anything in the universe. That feeling. That connection. That utter contentment, that comes from the innocence of your child, is virtually beyond description. But to those of us with children, it is a feeling that we experience every hour, of every day. And it is wonderful.
For me, personally, the journey began on April 26th, 1994. I remember looking at my son right after he popped out and thought, “Is he supposed to look like a conehead?” Of course, I was only 23 at the time and I had as much knowledge about babies as I did about quantum physics. Although, in retrospect, nearly 18 years have passed since that day and I have to believe I could have learned more about quantum physics during these years than I have about parenting. Who knows. What I do know is that I was undoubtedly immature for what was required, and equally unprepared for the effect that a child would have on me, emotionally.
Unfortunately, my son’s mother and I were not together. This presented me with situations that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Most notably, having to go days at a time without seeing him. At first, it didn’t matter very much. He couldn’t walk or talk, and was generally pretty boring. But then comes the first smile, the first laugh, the first Daddy, and of course, biggest of all, the first I Love You. Then it ALL changes. I think it’s because no matter how much that little person means to you, that meaning increases 10 fold on the day you know that you mean something to them, too. On that day, reality sets in and you know from that point forward, that you are living your life to make their life as great as you possibly can.
Of course, there is no guarantee of success. In the case of my first son, I made a lot of mistakes, as did his mother. We worked together, as best we could, to do things right, but have forgiven ourselves for the things we did wrong. At least I have. Our son has had his share of bad behavior over the years, but deep down he is genuinely one of the most caring and loving people I know. He is also very smart. Much smarter than he thinks he is. However, as is the case with some teenagers, he rarely applies himself. He’s also very lazy. More so than most teenagers. That is one of the hardest things to take as a parent. Mostly because you think like an adult and can’t grasp the idea of loafing it. You doubt yourself as a parent and constantly attempt to go back in your mind, trying to pinpoint where you began messing things up. That never works though. Ultimately, you have to stop dwelling on the past and think about the future. Sometimes it takes action to get your kids to straighten up and fly right. Sometimes tough love is necessary. Good parents know this, and do what they have to do. It hurts, and you hate it, but ignoring it and doing nothing could have much worse longterm consequences.
One of the biggest quandaries you will ever face as a parent, of a teenager, is trying to convince your child that you “understand.” NEWSFLASH: They Won’t Believe You. In their world, nothing is, as it was, when we were kids. They are the gatekeepers of the present, and we are just lucky that they let us get away with listening to LMFAO. They think we can’t possibly understand how it is for them today. You can tell them until you’re blue in the face about how you had “take the keys” parties in the 80’s, but they think you’re full of it. “You just don’t want me to have any fun” & “Tim and Mike’s parents are letting them go” will be the complaints du jour. Of course, when you tell them that you said the exact same thing to your parents 25 years ago, it will only compound the distain that they have for you, at that moment. You are now mocking them………..and enjoying every minute of it, I might add. Yes. Yes, I am.
Sometimes, after a long break in the action, you decide to give it another go and have more children. In a lot of ways, I think this is a good thing. You’ve had plenty of time to grow up and mature. More importantly, you have unlearned many of the bad habits that you had the first time around, and can attempt to do a better job this time. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Chances are, I will just make all new mistakes this time. Oh well.
In the past 5 years I have had two more children. A boy and a girl. This time the family structure is intact. No part time parenting. An everyday commitment that requires many skills. Cooking and cleaning. Teaching, punishing, negotiating and rewarding. Best of all, kissing, hugging, loving and laughing. Although I know I’m not covering them all, as parents we appreciate all aspects of our job. In many ways, my youngest kids help to remind me of the all great moments I had with my oldest one. I am so thankful for that. It feels great to remember.
It also feels great to remember my own childhood. At 23, I don’t think I cared to remember, but at 41 it’s fantastic. Trying to think back to 1975, shortly before I turned 5, and extracting snippits of memories. Then looking at my boy, who is almost 5 and thinking, ” Man, that’s how big I was when “that” happened.” It’s crazy. Children are a window into our own past, in more ways than we realize. Not a single day goes by, where my two little ones don’t put a smile on my face. The strange thing about it though, is that it’s never for the same reason two days in a row. One day it’s an accomplishment, the next it’s a thank you at just the right time, or one day it’s because you quietly come around the corner in time to see your son fixing the covers on his sleeping sister, so she doesn’t get cold. Those moments, make anything bad about your day, disappear. They may cause you a great deal of stress sometimes, but when the stress comes from something other than them, they know how to make it all go away, with the simplest of actions or the most comforting of words. “Daddy, I love you” is the greatest stress reliever ever.
That is, of course, until they realize that those words might actually get them out of trouble. Then, the reality of parenting slaps you right in the face. Bastards. 😉