Like most people, before I had children, I thought I knew a lot about parenting. I was a child once. I had parents. How hard could it be? I would be the same person as a parent, just one who answers to Mommy. How little I knew, about parenting, but more importantly, about myself.
I can force bravery
There is no avoiding fear when you are a parent. Things like spiders pale in comparison to the big dangers that can potentially face your child. However, I don’t want to pass my fears onto them, especially those that are irrational in nature. For this reason, I have worked hard to not let on when something scares me, whether it is something big and reasonable or small and irrational.
As a child, my uncle had a butterfly attached to a string which was then attached to a cork in a large bottle. He thought it would be funny to tease me with it, moving the cork up and down, saying the butterfly was “going to get” me. This resulted in a lifelong fear of butterflies. Even I realize how completely stupid that sounds. Who on earth could be afraid of a butterfly. Yep, that’s me. Now I know logically that they won’t hurt me. I appreciate their beauty and I would never intentionally do anything to hurt one, but is only in recent years that I can sit without flinching as one approaches me. I spent years hiding this fact from my kids and working to overcome my instinct to flee. In fact, I even had one land on my arm a couple years ago and lived to tell about it.
I am strong
I say this in both the literal and figurative sense. Being a parent pushes your limits. You discover that you can function even when you have had little sleep. You discover stores of willpower to combat their demands, and when your child truly needs something, you will move heaven and earth to make it happen. You do what needs to be done, because no one else will. You even carry children in your arms, long after it is reasonable, simply because you know you can’t leave them in the spot they stop and Refuse. To. Take. Another. Step.
I have amazing hearing, even in my sleep
When my daughter was a toddler, she on occasion would stop breathing momentarily in her sleep. I heard this despite the fact that a bathroom separated her room and ours. When we are camping, I know when they unzip sleeping bags and tents (and can tell the difference between the two). When my children are out of sight, I often know what they are doing, based on the sounds (of course the absence of sound means there might be trouble). This and the eyes in the back of my head are my Superpowers.
I like routine
For much of my life, I hated routine. I liked to be able to do things when I wanted to, without a schedule. After having two children, I realized that some sort of schedule was the only way I was going to survive. I was shocked to realize that not only had we established a routine, but that I was sticking to the clock, at least when it came to naptime. Recently I realized how much more I have come to depend on routine. Talking to me in the morning, when I am preparing for the day, before coffee, is not likely to have positive results. It disrupts my routine, and things end up in places other than where they belong.
I have a strong faith
I grew up with religion. I never considered myself religious and had periods where I strayed from the church. Like most people, I questioned whether God is real at one point in my life, but overall I accepted that God exists and is good. Once I had kids, any doubts disappeared. I stand firm that there is a God and Heaven and Hell are real (though I have no set picture of what exactly they are). I believe that religion is a personal matter, so it is not a common topic of conversation, but my faith has gotten me through some tough situations. I don’t talk about it much, but when I have found it necessary to do so, I have even surprised myself with my forcefulness.
I can question authority
I have always been a rule follower. Doctors, teachers, all authority figures are experts; they know what they are talking about and must be correct. But when one of my kids was in the hospital, I quickly learned that asking questions, even challenging those caring for her was my job. Things get missed, mistakes are made, but children do not have the means to advocate for themselves. So it was up to me. I later learned that this extends to other people as well. Anyone can make a mistake, so if something doesn’t sound right, I will question it.
I love being a mom
When I was younger, I didn’t want kids. As I entered adulthood, the idea intrigued me, but I wasn’t sure I was really cut out for it. My plans were for a career, where I would wear suits and dresses. Then I became a mom, and the daycare drop-offs were hard. After number two, I just couldn’t do it; I couldn’t go back to an office (though I loved my job) and leave two precious children behind. So I became a stay-at-home mom, which was much tougher than expected, but I grew to love it. I feel like this is what I was born to do.
I know much less about parenting than I thought
Parenting is hard. Probably the hardest thing I have ever done. Each child is different and requires different approaches. It is something I will do the rest of my life and the job description changes every day. Despite the unknowns and the surprises, it’s the best choice I’ve ever made, one I will never regret.