My first child turned five today. I know in the grand scheme of things, five years is but a blink of an eye. But when you’re in the midst, the day to day, the minute to minute, five years can seem like a lifetime. For Kingston, it has been a lifetime. His lifetime. There is so much that I’ve learned in the last five years. So many failures and successes. More of the failures, but so much growth. I’ve decided to highlight the top five things I’ve learned in my five years of being a mother. Hopefully it might help a young mom just starting out. Maybe it will remind some mothers of a time when their babies were young. Who knows, it might just be the birth control a teenage girl needs who might think she’s ready for a baby. Whichever you might be, I hope it brings encouragement and hope and humor. Being a mom is hard work. But we’re in this together.
1. Kids are jerks.
From the second a child is conceived, kids will slowly start to drain you of life and happiness and sleep and energy. You lose your figure, your appetite, your reason to live. Then they’re born. And it’s just downhill from there. Sure they’re the cutest thing you’ve ever seen and their hugs bring you joy that you can never express, but it’s only a matter of time until you realize what you’ve done. And that you can’t go back.
Then they hit age one and you can’t take them out in public or God forbid a restaurant. They can’t sit still and it’s not their fault, but your sanity starts slipping. Then they are 2 and the throwing fits start and they start discovering that they can actually say no. But the worst years is when they’re three, when they’re smarter than you. And they know it. The tantrums turn into full out brawls and arguments and deception and terror. Then they hit four and they start telling you the cold hard truth. They tell you your stomach is so smooshy or they tell you your face looks weird. They will make you cry and they will make you feel stupid and very unworthy. And I have the honor of getting this at work while I teach preschool and the second I walk through the door to my two beautiful children.
We take for granted that we’ve had years of learning the ways of the world, but for a child it’s all brand new and not common knowledge. They will ask how everything works. Why it works. Why. How. What. When. Why. Why! WHY!
You need to teach them all the colors, all the shapes, letters, numbers, do’s and don’ts of life. The hardest part of being a parent but also the most important is teaching your children how to be a decent, well adjusted human being. Consistency is key. Saying the same thing 100×100 times. Thinking that you’re talking to a brick wall. Giving brilliant advice and a well thought out explanation for something only for them to start picking their nose and talking about the lint on their shirt.
And then you have another one and have to start all over again…
We as parents sometimes like to think we have full control over our kids. And we do have some control… or at least we should. But at the end of the day, a child has a free will just like everyone and can sure as heck use it. One day I came strolling into my sons class for a Mother’s Day tea party. His teacher, thankfully a good friend of mine, told me how Kingston said “dammit” earlier that day. In fact he said it a total of 3 times. Happy Mother’s Day to me!! He was 4 years old at that time. I realized then that he is going to do things I don’t approve of. He is going to make decisions so opposite from what I lovingly taught him. And I need to be secure enough in myself and my parenting to accept and move forward in a healthy way. If that means a swift kick in the pants when we get home, then so be it! They will learn how to respond to disappointment from you. Give grace and correction. Firmly and lovingly and consistently!
But yes, they are not in your womb anymore! Let them be themselves and figure it out. Unless it’s screaming through Walmart… Don’t be that mom.
This is tricky because having a child rocks your entire universe down to the core of who you are. But when you struggle with happiness and wholeness, your entire family struggles. Children are not only sponges, they are mirrors. There was a period of time I was very unhappy and very angry. I wasn’t addressing my problems and like most moms, put my feelings on the back burner. I began to have a really strained relationship with Kingston. I just thought he was in a phase of being the worst kid on the planet… he was always so angry and temperamental. He and I always fought and I really just didn’t want to be around him. Later on and many hours of counseling later, I realized I just really didn’t like myself. All the things I needed to work on were being smacked in my face through my child. He had picked up on my moods and methods and was just acting what he saw. What horrible guilt that was. But also relief. I was worried my son had all these problems that we’d have to work out… when in fact I just needed to work on myself. I was finally able to look at my son for who he truly was… a great boy! When I stopped being so angry, I was able to see the delight he brought. His smart, quirky humor. His kindness and his gentle soul.
All that to say, we the parents are #1! Make sure mom and dad or whoever is in the picture is OK! Go to counseling, eat healthy and exercise, have girls nights, read books, go away for the weekend. Your children and household will survive and they will actually thank you for it later!
Talk about your failures and your dreams to your kids. Talk about your expectations and your beliefs. Talk about all body parts and how to treat each other. Say sorry and use your manners. Above all this, be available to listen. Listening to your kids is such a key thing I’ve learned. In the midst of their tantrums or whining is really a story of their fear or insecurity. Get to the heart of the issue and everyone will feel heard and validated. This is the pinnacle for any relationship, and parent-child relationship is so different.
Talk to your kids! They are pretty cool! And don’t forget to pray for them.
I am definitely looking forward to the next season of life with my son. He is such a good boy with so much to offer. I know I have much more to learn from him and I am willing and open for that growth.
By Amy R.