Motherhood is the one job that you can’t “just test the waters first” to get a feel of things. It has no opt out. Once you are in you are in for life. For some, it is a life-long dream. For others, it is dread. And for some, like me, it is an oops-I-slipped kind of thing. Whichever way we get in, there is no “exit here” sign.
Parenthood. It changes you. It gives you a perspective of the world that you did not know was a vantage point in existence. I have not been a parent for long, but I am used to working with children and have talked to many parents. Here are a few things that I think every person who stands at parenthood’s threshold may learn from:
1. Reflect. Your parenting style will be a reflection of your childhood. Or not. Whether we say, “I want to be just like my mom/dad” or the converse, “I will never raise my child the way I was raised,” you will inadvertently pass on to your child your childhood stories, experiences, fears, dreams and values. Your parenting style will be a reflection of who you are as a person, and how you want to define yourself as a person.
2. Relax. Whether you fear your child will turn out like you, or that your child will not turn out like you, set that fear aside and relax. Relax and let yourself respond to your child’s needs the best way you know how, whether or not your parents did that for you or not. Respond with love and concern, and you will be fine.
3. Respond. Do not react. Reacting to a tantrum would end up in yelling (for you), more tantrums and more sulking for both of you. Responding is acting out of what would be best for both you and your child.
4. Record. In this age of digital and phone cameras, taking snapshots of our children are fairly easy to do. Except that we take this precious tool for granted. Carve out time to take good, quality photos of your child’s milestones and special occasions. And when you get that two or three good shots to go into the family album, set the camera down, and enjoy the experience with your child. Because most importantly,
5. Revere. Show your child love, but revere your experience of parenthood. It takes incalculable amounts of patience, strength and courage to carry out the daily almost automatic actions required of being a parent, and many times, we just feel inadequate. By revering our experience as parents, we acknowledge alongside our inadequacies that we are doing a great job. Even though we cannot be perfect in our and our children’s eyes, I revere this daily gift of parenthood, and I celebrate it. I celebrate myself, I celebrate my child. Because,
6. Remember. Whether we do an excellent or shitty job of it, we as their parents will be our children’s greatest influence in life.