The daily rhythm of parenting
Every parent, just like every child is different. Some cherish memories over schedules, other believe in clear and concise rules and expectations and many aren't giving any thought to any of it, just getting by one day at a time. If you want to create a debate amongst parents ask them about bedtime, snacks, play dates, potty training or just about anything else. Opinions are plentiful and they seem to be a combination of one's upbringing, what they have read/heard and our own opinions on child rearing.
As a parent I have learned a few things about myself. I share these in hopes something might resonate with you.
I cherish my time alone, my time with my spouse and time with my friends. I know many mothers who never want to be away from their children. Who need to be needed and who would not dream of leaving their child before the age of two, three or four. This is not me. However, this does not mean I love my child any less. For me it feels good to get away for an hour or two and do something beyond the confines of being a parent. When I am out at night even for a quick dinner with a friend I feel rejuvenated. When I get dressed in something requiring dry cleaning, wear mascara and go out with my husband I feel my identity as a woman and not solely a parent. When I shower and get dressed before ten in the morning I feel like a functioning member of society.
Although motherhood is a sacrifice it need not be a total loss of self and ones own identity. I am a better parent when I work hard to achieve my hopes and dreams. I need not resign myself to role of cheerleader. I want my children to see their mother has interests and passions which extend beyond the walls of our home and them. The best way I can teach my children to be fearless, adventurous and passionate is by example and not just words. Children are delighted to cheer on a parent as much as they are eager to be applauded.
Have high, but realistic expectations. My son is happily working on workbooks, helping to set the table, sweep the floor, make dinner, do laundry and empty the dishwasher. Before having children I would have never thought a two year old would not be capable of doing all these things, but he is! And he is loving pulling his weight around the house. I have learned laziness is not a quality we are born with, but a quality society teaches us is cool.
Make it your number one priority to know your child. Learn their likes and dislikes and be accepting of change. They might not always love strawberries or strangers, but knowing what they like in the moment is a powerful tool. I like to think we are growing and changing together. I am not the same person I was five years ago, nor will I be the same person five years from now.
Go with your gut. I know what works best for our family and this might not always please or work well for other people. I know Jasper is happier when he naps, when he spends ample time outside, when we read lots and lots of books before bed and when is given oodles of attention. At this season of our lives we are fortunate to be present and accommodating of those needs.
As a parent I am constantly learning and I am grateful for this opportunity to love so purely. Some nights I go to bed feeling triumphant and others I am ready for the promise of a new day. Parenthood is a wild ride, but I like to think day by day it is helping shape me into the person I want to be become.