I didn't know when I started down this path just how difficult it would be. Don't get me wrong: I knew it would be hard. I noticed the sleepless nights on the faces of friends and family. I saw the toddler food scraps on their clothes. The battle wounds were reflected in everything they did. The message was clear: Parenthood is no picnic. What I didn't realize is that the one-way trip out of being childless and into parenthood would be so drastically different and challenging than anything I had ever gone through. This is something that people don't talk about. Well, not often enough, in my opinion. I kept hearing, "Just wait until 6 weeks. It gets better at 6 weeks." I felt crazy for being the only person who was still struggling at that point and beyond. Did I not love my child enough? Was there something I was doing wrong?
The answer is no on both accounts. The true solution to this conundrum is that parenthood is demanding, challenging, beautiful, painful, messy, lovely, and a million other adjectives all rolled into one. Where one minute you (and your child!) might be crying and screaming out of frustration, the next might be filled with tickles, laughter, and utter joy. These moments, all of them, are what parenting is all about. I've realized that the key in all of this is to let yourself learn and grow right alongside your little one. Parenting doesn't come with a guidebook and each child is different. Reading online and in books can be so beneficial, but can only get you so far to understand your individual child and his needs.
When I started my journey, I felt as prepared as a person can be. I had read countless articles/books both online and in print. I had helped my sister raise her children. Heck, I had spent hours upon hours with all of my nieces and nephews. But, bam! There I was one week into parenting with my first newborn problem with no set answer as to how to solve it. Wasn't I the parent after all? Shouldn't I know what to do?
After much prayer and advice from medical professionals, I made a decision to help my child overcome his jaundice. Since then I've made countless decisions on behalf of my child's health, growth and learning. The decisions have (mostly) gotten easier to make, but there are times when I still feel like I don't have all the solutions of how to raise my child best. I have, however, learned that what is "best" is raising my child in a loving home where is allowed to grow and flourish to his potential. Here are a few things I've learned to do in order to make that possible:
Say "yes" to them a little more. Let them explore the world a little more. There are truly only a few years in a person's life where it is socially acceptable to be a child. There are a finite amount of firsts that you can experience again only through these eyes of your child. Enjoy those moments. Cuddle your child a little closer. Take time to understand that the crying and tantrums has meaning behind them. Rather than get mad right back, be the adult in the relationship and let your child be the child who is seeking understanding, comfort, and meaning from a loving parent.
What are some ways you help your child feel loved in your home?