My mum once told me she thinks parents today research too much. I respectfully disagreed with her. I don’t think most parents research enough. I read and research about parenting A LOT, more than anything else. After my daughter was born I realized this was going to be the most important job of my life.
This. This is it.
Parenting is hard and complicated and sad and amazing and awe-inspiring and it’s EVERYTHING.
So how is it that most people don’t spend much time thinking about how they parent? They spend a lot of time and energy and money thinking about how to get their kids to sleep (shhh, the secret is eventually they just learn to sleep) or on ways to make sure their kids follow their rules but not about HOW they parent.
I love my parents. I had a great childhood. They were generous and supportive parents while I grew up. They were rarely angry, they didn’t leave me to cry, I never had to clean my plate and they let me have my space as a teenager. They have continued to be supportive throughout my adult life.
But, still, I (and my husband) are different parents. We too are generous and supportive but we come from a different starting place. One I didn’t know existed until after our daughter was born.
She changed me. She changed us. Wholly and completely. EVERYTHING.
Here was this little PERSON who needed us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It wasn’t until she was here in my arms that I realized who I was going to be as a parent. The crib was never used, not once. She was never left to cry, ever, not once. And I started to read and learn and discover that I was not alone. That conventional parenting wisdom is being challenged every day by a small but growing minority of parents who are doing things differently. Parents who were parenting from a place of mutual respect.
4 years and one younger brother later and our girl still needs us for so much, but most of all she needs us to respect that she is a WHOLE person: that her thoughts, ideas and feelings carry as much weight as ours do.
This is a different philosophy than my parents had raising me. Thankfully they are pretty good about not saying anything when they disagree with our practices, about letting us be the parents because, well, it’s our turn.
So I would (should) say to my mum that she should be proud that she raised a daughter who thinks and researches and challenges conventional wisdom. I’m proud of that about myself. I respect that about myself. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means. But I do claim to think about it, deeply and everyday. I give consideration to every positive and negative interaction with my kids. And I want to be my best possible self for them because…this is it.
This is EVERYTHING.