Gifts for Dad ➔

I’ve written before about my struggles of parenting. The mixed feelings of adoration, worry, exhaustion, frustration and resentment sprinkled with moments of joy. The difficulties I sometimes experience managing my professional self with my parent self and my longing for my former child free life.

On the days I have no regrets this is what I focus on:

1. The moment of meeting.
There is nothing like meeting your child for the first time. Discovering who has been growing and swimming around inside you for nine months is thrilling and overwhelmingly joyful. For months you have been wondering what they look like from the amount of hair to their size and now here they are this little person. I’ve met mothers who are so addicted to this moment that they have more kids than they can handle because that moment is so good it’s like a drug you’re willing to play Russian roulette with one more time. Although it’s not for me, I can understand the draw to this experience.

2. The preciousness of life.
Now that I am a parent I see other humans differently. I’ve always been a respectful and kind person, but after having my first child it hit me that everyone was once someone’s baby. It seemed to highlight the vulnerability of us all and the importance of connection to family in our life journey. I would look at tough guys and people who’d ended up addicted to drugs and think about the person that had raised them. The person who had likely loved them and had devoted hours into raising them so they can have a good life. I’d see these people with softer eyes; I’d see the tragedy of the innocent baby lost to a situation and the pain their struggle must bring their broader family unit.

3. Motherhood made my world bigger.
Although in the early months, motherhood made my world smaller, over time becoming a parent broadened my social world. I made friends to get me through the loneliness of motherhood. I made friends so my kids would have a community. I live in a community that I moved to for my kids and because of this I have that community by my side as well. These friends and acquaintances are people I would never have met if I’d never raised kids. Sometimes that challenges my point of view and offers me different perspectives. On these days I am grateful for all these people.

4. The funny and ridiculous memories.
Much of parenting feels to me like a piece of absurd theatre with random and disconnected events possible at any time. On the days I have no regrets I recall fondly incidents like finding yogurt smeared all over my toddlers face and a spoon placed in her hair as if to say “I give up on getting this into my mouth”, jumping in fully clothed to rescue a kid who jumped into a pool with no floats and who was surprised that they sank, finding Play-Doh in no less than 15 different locations in my home after a mom’s group play date and the list goes on.

5. The wisdom.
There is so much that parenting has taught me. Lessons like the importance of accepting the moment as it is rather than struggling with how it should be or trying to control outcomes. Following on from this was learning to accept my children as they are not how I think they should be and how I would like them to be. Parenting has taught me that the only certainty is change and there is no point in clinging to the past. It is also OK to not know what you are doing; if you are open to it you will find a way and that most of the time situations with your kids works out OK.

6. I view my parenting with lightness.
On these days what I do is good enough. I let go of striving for perfection and the stress that comes from taking  responsibility for every aspect of my children’s development. I can look back and see what worked well and see what didn’t with forgiving eyes. I can see my children as they are today and all the hard work we’ve put in together, my parenting, my children’s persistence to grow and learn and the village that helps me raise them.

On the days I have no regrets parenting isn’t a struggle. I’m a woman doing OK on a journey I belong on.

Nadene van der Linden

Nadene van der Linden is a clinical psychologist in private practice specialising in perinatal psychology, parenting and trauma. Join the Unshakeable Calm facebook group today. Science based tips for calm and confident living.

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