By Samantha McKenzie
I knew stepping into parenthood would be a challenge. I read a few books, talked for hours on the phone with my mother and countless other mothers for advice. Some tips I gladly held on to, while others I let go by the wayside. Mostly, I prayed, wondered and felt my way through the process.
Parenting isn’t an exact science. Sometimes one method will work on one child and not on the other. Other times, the same method outgrows its usefulness and catches you by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, there are obvious parenting techniques that are tried and true. Making sure your child eats a balanced meal or gets enough sleep at night – easy enough.
We are extremely attentive to our parenting style during our child’s formative years. But as children begin to grow, sometimes, we as parents get stuck believing they are still our little babies and the struggle begins.
Like when my child visited a relative who refused to help her cut her breakfast waffles and then questioned me about it. I sheepishly admitted that I wasn’t ready to let her use a butter knife. She was 8. Or when a friend of mine told me that her children ironed their own clothes. When I yelled at my children for not doing this chore, they reminded me that it wasn’t because they couldn’t, it was because I wouldn’t let them. By the time I was on child number 3 (yes because after child number 1, they don’t have names), I had come up with a brilliant plan to teach her a new household chore on every birthday.
The pressure really ensued when it was time for the “firsts.” The first school dance, the first sign of puberty, the first kiss, and the first heartbreak. Let’s not mention talking about sex. It felt like stepping into a ring of fire with a tiny sword ready to fight a lion. I knew I had to do it, but I already felt defeated.
It’s not like I didn’t know they were going to one day drive the car, or stay out late on a movie date or have sex. My daughter still laughs at me when I tell her, she can go on her first date after she’s married.
I can truly say that the most difficult part of my parenting process were those times when the moment had arrived, and I was not ready.
When your children are growing up, you have to grow up too. Part of this process for me was seeing them as individuals. They were more than just my children. I was blessed to have the opportunity to parent them and with that came a huge responsibility. It was my job to get myself prepared. I had to equip myself with the tools they would need to be healthy, productive human beings.
I had to grow up. And I had to grow up fast. Many wine bottles later, it started to sink in. I began to give them more responsibilities and trust that the things I taught them would work. I also had to prepare myself for their mess ups and mistakes. I found myself letting go of the idea that they had to be perfect. I encouraged them to take risks and explained why failure was a part of the learning process. Instead of discouraging it, I talked to them about getting back up and starting over.
You should thank your children for helping you grow up as a parent. Without them, you’d never have the privilege. The process continues.