The most important word when it comes to parenting
I figured I’d just jump right in and tell you. You might have started to read this thinking that I was going to say the most important word that we parents can mutter is “No” or “Yes” or the phrase “I love you.” I think these are all really important too, and they certainly have their time and place.
But what I’m talking about is—as a mom or dad—the most important thing you can keep in mind on those days (those days that don’t end, those days where you think you’ve just been pushed beyond your limits, and you are not going to make it until bedtime) is perspective.
You see, we’ve needed a lot of it lately in my household. In the past few months, we’ve dealt with a cross-country move, starting a new school, starting new jobs, the wonderful news of a new pregnancy, the annoying symptoms that come with that new pregnancy, some awesome sleep regressions, buying and moving into another house, living without heat for a few weeks, some family medical issues, and a lice diagnosis for my son that I just knew was coming.
As I was bagging up yet another load of laundry to wash at approximately 11 p.m., with no actual working washing machine (of course ours would have just broken and its replacement not showing up until the next day…), my hair freshly rinsed from my own prophylactic lice treatment, I couldn’t help but stop and laugh.
Here we were dealing with quite a few things at once, and lice is one of those things that just ruins your day. But you know what? It’s not leukemia. My plans for the next day were to take my son to get his hair combed and treated, not to get chemotherapy. It wasn’t dealing with infertility or the loss of a child. So how lucky am I to have a son at all who can have these problems like having trouble sleeping or hosting some critters in his hair to remind me that I am lucky he is here at all?
Along every stage of parenting comes the feeling of “We will never get past this.” It is probably sleep deprivation and feeding issues in those first few weeks. Then they are replaced by getting your baby to sleep when and how you want them to, followed by making sure they are meeting the milestones they should, worrying that they will never learn to share, or use the potty, feed themselves, or make friends at school.
At every step of the way we parents often feel like this is the thing that is going to break me. But it never really does, does it? We figure it out, and before we know it, we happen to look back and can casually say, “Remember when we thought those night wakings were the biggest deal and they’d never end? Ha!”
And these kids—they all grow up in what feels like the blink of an eye, and somehow, most of them make it just fine, don’t they? It’d be a shame to spend the majority of every “phase” wishing it away and saying, “It will be so much easier when ___.” Eventually you’ll be left with an empty house realizing how quickly it goes by and that you’d take any phase if it meant you still had little ones who were so innocent and whose entire life problems you could fix with a kiss and a hug.
Please don’t think my thoughts on this means we shouldn’t have bad days. By all means, have a good cry, drink that glass of wine, give yourself the freedom to eat an entire package of cookies, and call your girlfriend and tell her you can’t take it anymore. We all need those outlets. But when you feel like every day is dragging on and this parenting thing is just no fun anymore, a little perspective might help get you out of that funk and put a smile back onto your face momentarily.
Back to the battle of the lice, with lots of perspective in mind…