While this post has very little to do with travel, both my mom and the mother of my children majorly influenced me in my love of travel. This post is dedicated to them, my mother in law, the mothers out there who sacrifice their health, time, energy, and more for their children.
Some thoughts on parenting on my wife’s 5th mother’s day. Just my raw stream of consciousness about parenting, children, and what matters most to me.
Nobody is born a good parent
Parenting is hard. The pictures are cute and social media amplifies that, but the pictures don’t even tell half the story. What all parents know but rarely talk about publicly: you’re just making it up as you go along. When they’re first born, you can’t tell the difference between a cry of hunger or a cry for mom. As they get older, you realize you have no idea how to teach them how to be functional members of society. And teenagers…yikes.
Good parenting doesn’t mean having all the answers and doesn’t come naturally. Good parenting just means working at it until you realize you’ll never have all the answers, and that the only answer is too keep working at it.
Mistakes will be made
No matter how hard you work, you’re going to screw up. M fell off the bed six times before she turned 2, H fell down two entire sets of stairs (so far, one concrete). I’ve yelled at the kids when they’ve needed compassion, gone too easy when they needed boundaries, and, you know, let my son fall down two entire sets of stairs.
It’s impossible to be a perfect parent or to achieve anything close to that. I figure if I’m batting .500 that’s pretty good. You learn from your mistakes and do your best to limit them, but they are going to happen.
I’m the kind of person who dwells in the past, but dwelling on the many mistakes you make as a parent completely paralyzes you. So you have to forgive yourself and move on. There really is no other option.
Live in the moment
The best piece of advice I received before our daughter came went something like this. Every stage has its ups and downs, some great, some terrible. But the only guarantee is that one stage will end and another will begin – and you can never go back. So cherish every stage of your kids’ life, because each one only happens once.
I’ve done my best to remember those words of wisdom and live in the moment for every stage of my kids’ life. I’m in no rush for them to grow up (spending 35 hours a week with teenagers helps a ton in that regard). Like travel, sometimes the best memories are from moments that seemed to be the worst at the time. Embrace each moment.
Finally, I’ve learned to be thankful for all of those moments, good and bad. And to try to just be thankful in general. Sometimes, it’s the best and only way to survive all the crazy crap that you have to deal with as a parent.
So on this Mother’s Day, thanks to my mom (and dad, cuz I’m not doing this again in a month) for helping make me who I am. Thanks to H&M, who have challenged me in ways I never expected and who love me unconditionally in a way that I’ll never understand. (So sweet, the young ones.) And thanks to my wife, who puts it all on the line every day to make sure our kids have as much support, love, and crackers as they need. Happy Mother’s Day.