I was at a party this summer when someone asked me, “What is the most surprising thing about being a parent?” I paused because I really did not know how to answer that. In my mind, I was thinking how much my perspective on life has really changed. I worry about things I never used to worry about. I appreciate 15 minutes of alone time like I never have before. I have never loved something as much as my kids—a spouse love is different than a love for your own kids. Now that I have had time to really think about it, I will share the three things that surprise me most about being a parent:
I have honestly never been so scared in my entire life. I am not scared of failing as a parent or ruining my kids’ lives—I feel like that is something I have some control over. I am not a perfect parent, but I do my best to make sure they know they are loved so much.
I am scared of the things I can’t control, like tragedies. I am scared of something happening to my kids and I am scared of something happening to me or Matt. I always think about the terrible “what ifs” every single day, usually in the morning on the way to work. What if something happens at school while I’m not there to protect them? What if this trip to the grocery store ends with me dying in an accident? I can’t control these thoughts at all, even if I try to stop them, I can’t. I let them enter my mind and then leave.
I think it is so scary because, as any parent knows, there is no love like the love for your kids. If something were to ever happen to my children, I would never fully recover. Being a parent is scary because little lives rely on you to be there for them and protect them.
I know this a drastic transition, but I thought I would get the worst part over with. Even though being a parent is scary, exhausting, and overwhelming, it is also a blast. Seeing how fun and simple life is through the eyes of innocent children is the best thing in the world. Something as simple as going to the park jolts some major excitement in my house. Every time I mention the park, I hear, “YAY, THE PARK! CAN WE GO NOW?” I honestly dread the park unless Matt and I go together or I go with neighbors or friends, because having an adult companion eases the pain of sitting on that lonely bench. I go to the park because seeing my kids’ faces light up over something so simple is truly the best.
Before I had my own kids, I would see other kids behaving badly and parents freaking out in public, and I would think, “Control your life and family!” Now, I totally get it—and I feel sorry for parents when I see something like that happen. I hope they feel sorry for me when they see me in a similar situation.
I remember when I took Jacob to an art class when he was two. He wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to stick it out, but right at the end of class, he lost it. Stuff was flying everywhere and I tried to pick it up. One mom helped me and then I saw two other moms whispering and pointing. My face was so hot and red. It is amazing how some people step up to help while others judge. There are so many things I wanted to say to those whispering moms; instead, I thanked the one who helped. If I had said what I wanted to say, they probably would have whipped out their phones to record me, and I would have gone viral in a bad way. Empathy and compassion between parents is an unwritten rule. We are all trying to maintain the lives we want while we raise good people.
What are things that have surprised you the most about being a parent? Drop me a comment.