Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From the first to the last...

I always feel awkward posting after so long. But every once in a while, I have something I want to say. I've been thinking a lot about the difference in my parenting style from the first child to the fifth. Now that I am finally out of the baby and toddler stage, I can look back with a little more clarity, probably because I'm no longer sleep deprived and I haven't had to wipe anyone else's bottom in years. I look at the way I parented my first, the things that seems like such a big deal, compared to my last and the differences are significant. I have to laugh at the irony, as I've spent most of my adulthood complaining to my own mother that my youngest brother gets away with murder! But when I look at my own children, with ten years between the first and last, how could it be the same? I was not the same person by the time I had Esme as I was when I had Ari. A 21 year old college student's attempt at parenting looks vastly different than a 31 year old wife's. And so many of things that seemed like such huge things, really don't make any difference even five years down the road. I don't think anyone meets my 15 year old and says "She was obviously breastfed for two years!" or "I bet she was an early potty trainer!". My 12 year old will never put on a college application that he walked at 7 months. I'm pretty sure no one other than his father, myself and maybe his future wife will ever care about that! But in the moment, those things seem monumental. Those decisions; how to feed, how to sleep train, when to take away the pacifier...they seem so huge. As if they will determine what kind of person your child will be. But even a few years down the road, they don't matter any more. I have four children who were only ever breastfed and one who had formula. I would guess that if I lined them up, you wouldn't be able to guess which is which. I'd even go so far to say you will could never guess which two were birthed with epidurals and which three were not?  I'm not trying to diminish these moments as a parent. However, we live in a world that tells us that these will define our child's future. They will make or break us. That's simply not true. The one I had the least experience in raising (and probably made the most mistakes with) is an amazing human being, despite her imperfect upbringing. The last one, with whom I was a verified expert with, gets away with murder! As I raised them, I continue to grow up myself. I change and learn and make mistakes and do things differently. How sad it would be for them (and me!) If I was the same person 15 years later? So really, we've grown up together. And I hope that one day, they will look back fondly at the things I did right and the things I did wrong and know that I always loved them. They will take the good parts and pass them on to my grandchildren and they will take the bad parts and do better than I did. I was recently sharing with a friend my fears about the effect on my children concerning some of the bad parts. I was lost in that scary place in mind that whispers "you're messing them up". She was able to remind me that her parents made the same mistake, but never took responsibility for it. That even though the action is done, the practice of admitting that wrong to my kids would be powerful. The whispering lies in my brain had never thought of that before. It was one more moment of growth, one more realization that I do not solely determine who my kids will be, that there is One greater than me that defines their future. So I suppose this post is for young parents who are struggling under the weight of the thousand decisions you must make every day. Who are struggling with the whispering voice telling you that you are doing it WRONG. Give yourself a little grace today. And remember that in the blink of an eye, This

Becomes THIS

And all of those little things become this big person who is a person all of their own! Take a deep breath, you're doing a great job!