Sea World, San Antonio, Texas
by Pearl Cox
I chose this picture because it seems to fit parenting to a tee.
Parenting can be beautiful.
Parenting can be two emotions at one time.
Parenting has twists and turns.
Parenting can be terrifying.
Parenting can be exhilarating.
Parenting can make your heart race.
Parenting can make you feel out of control most of the time.
Parenting has hills and valleys.
I can't go into specifics, but it has been a hard year in the parenting category of my life. Since that is my primary occupation, it takes up a great deal of my physical and mental time.
I remember when my kids were babies. Oh, how I worried----or so I thought.
Babies have basic needs.
While it is frustrating and exhausting (read: little sleep!) caring for someone who doesn't speak your language, it doesn't take too long to get the hang of it.
One cry means I'm hungry. One cry means I'm in need of clean diaper. One cry means I'm hot/cold. One cry means I need help with this tummy ache. One cry means I'm tired and I can't get to sleep. One cry means I'm lonely/bored.
As they grow, it becomes more complicated.
If they become unhappy, it's usually because of something you have done or haven't done.
"No, you may not have cake for breakfast."
"I'm sorry, your blankie is still in the washing machine."
Once they reach school age, the circle of people that can make them laugh and cry, widens.
Teachers, friends and enemies. Book reports, and P.E. and lunch and lockers.
All those things, are primarily out of your control, as a parent.
Yet, you're now expected to comfort the emotional wounds caused by others, when you really just want to go all 'she-bear' on the perpetrator .
Something as simple as having a different parenting style than the best friend's parents can cause all sorts of drama.
It's much easier to just get down in the trenches with your kids and fight like they do. To get drawn into their every little sadness and worry. It's rarely the right thing to do.
This year, my kids have been battling self-doubt, sadness, worry and change.
I have been blessed beyond measure with the fact that they have always made good choices. None of the things going on with them will harm them physically or really mentally.
It's just typical teenage stuff.
I have not, however, been able to distance myself as a parent from their woes.
I want to "fix it", just like I did when they were little.
It's not as easy as when I could just throw the blankie in the dryer and read them a book until it was dry. Bandaids don't work. Neither do cookies.
All I can offer is an ear for their worries.
I wish I could take all their anger and sadness and worry and make it disappear.
I also have not come to a place in my parenting style, to just let things play out.
Their pain is my pain. Their worry is my worry. Their sadness is my sadness. Their uncertainty is my uncertainty.
All I can offer is advice and remembrances of when I was their age.
The one thing I refuse to do, is tell them to suck it up and get over it.
It seldom works out so well for parent or child when that tactic is used.