As a child care provider and educator, there has always been so much I’ve wanted to tell parents. There are things I’ve wanted them to know so maybe issues at home wouldn’t infiltrate the classroom. There are things I’ve wanted them to know so maybe they can feel less discouraged and less alone. I can appreciate that many times, the parents of my students are just new parents, and they’ve never done this before. They don’t know how to do this, and they don’t know that it’s OK.
As a parent, I can appreciate what it’s like to be clueless, despite my background. As a parent, I can appreciate what it’s like to feel helpless and lost, frustrated and enervated, and sometimes, even heartbroken.
Still, there are things I want to say to all the parents. The new parents especially. These are the things every new parent needs to know:
This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
You will feel scared, incompetent, lost, and like a failure.
You will be frustrated a lot.
You will cry, and you will hurt.
But that’s only a part of it.
You will know a love like no other.
You will look forward to every day.
You will feel brave, triumphant, proud, and blissful happiness.
You will love tremendously, more than you ever have in your life.
You will cry when you think of how blessed you are and how grateful you feel.
Your child will change and grow every day. You will have to adapt.
Expect the unexpected, the unusual, the surprising. Expect the opposite of what other kids are doing, the opposite of what your child did yesterday, and the opposite of what you think your child should be doing.
It may not go as you expected. It may not go as you wanted. It may not go as you planned, but that’s OK.
You are a student, and you have to learn something new about your child and the world every day.
You are a teacher, and you have to teach your child how to live in the world. You have to teach your child how to say please and thank you, dunk cookies in milk, and how to cross the street, in addition to approximately 500,000 other things.
Children come into the world knowing nothing. They don’t know what a crib or bassinet is, and that these are places for something called sleep. You must teach them that. They don’t know what a spoon is or what it’s doing coming into their mouth while you’re staring at them expectantly and coaxing them. You must teach them how to eat. They don’t know how to iron clothes, write thank-you notes, or accept people for who they are.
You must teach them everything. No pressure.
Parenthood will have its rewards, its joys, and its long, long list of magnificent things that cannot even be named. Parenthood will also have its challenges, its hardships, and its pain. You will have to persevere. You will have to be strong. You will have to be flexible, and accept when things don’t go as you expected or when you learn you were wrong.
You will have to know that no one knows what they are doing. It’s OK to ask for help and to pray every day for guidance. It’s OK to not know the answer, and it’s OK to be wrong. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and powerful, aggravated and peaceful, and happy and sad, all in the same day.
You are a parent, the greatest role there is. You are the reason someone new is in the world. A brand new person. So much possibility. So much potential. Again, it will be hard, but it will also be the greatest adventure you’ve ever lived and the most important thing you’ve ever done.
I want to tell the parents: give it your all, learn from your mistakes, and move on after you make a mistake. Allow yourself and your child to make mistakes. Appreciate that your child is a little human, with human feelings, flaws, needs, and ambitions. Trust your instincts, and it’s OK if you feel like you don’t have any instincts. Give yourself a break, go easy on yourself, and thank God every day for your blessings.
Love with all your might, cherish every moment, even the mishaps, and at the end of the day, know you’re doing a good job.