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Parenting is challenging. Period.
I wish I could just put that down, print it up, stick it on my refrigerator and take a deep breath to relax every single time I felt like things were spinning out of control. But there are days when it seems like everything happens all at once and no amount of yellow post-its on every surface in the house is going to help me.
Someone once told me (almost derisively) that parenting is the one thing we have no course for, no exams to pass and no evaluation/appraisal to monitor our growth. While that smarted at the time, I can’t help but think how true it is to actually experience parenting.
Imagine being flung into the deep end of the ocean with no life raft or instructions on how to swim. How must it feel? Terrifying? Yes, don’t even think otherwise.
I’m not here to scare you, new parents or parents-to-be. God knows I try to look at the positives as much as I balance out the days when I feel like throwing in the towel. It gets progressively harder too, as they grow older. Paradoxically, it grows easier as well.
Easier because you don’t need to worry about diapers, bottle feeds, sleep deprivation, colicky infants or weight gain.
Harder because you have to start worrying about things like peer pressure, missed assignments, coping at school and the defiance that comes with age.
Yelling is counter-productive. I’ve learnt that the brutal way. Add to it the things that you love doing that don’t involve parenting and some days you want to just hit the pause button on all the worries that parenting brings and just delve into the comfort that writing offers.
That’s why I write. I’m not ashamed of it either.
It’s my best and most relaxing escape from my failures as a parent. It’s my go-to tonic when I feel helpless and at my wits’ end. Yes, I fail as a parent and it’s heartbreaking to admit it.
I fail every time I glare at Gy when she forgets her homework at school.
I fail every time I ask her in a voice, dripping with sarcasm, how she manages to find her way around the school.
I fail every time I stand and stare at her apparent lack of concentration when I am saying something.
Let’s face it. I tend to lecture. Hey, I was a teacher so it comes naturally to me. But whereas a classroom full of young adults come to actually listen to you, a pint-sized mini-you just stands her ground with open defiance not willing to lend you her ear.
That’s beyond frustrating; it’s maddening!
So, what do we do on the days when parenting seems like the most challenging job in the world? Here are my solutions:
- Pick up the phone and talk to someone close- your mom, your spouse, a close friend. Don’t hold it in. Talking clears the mind.
- Go for a walk. Fresh air works wonders on the frayed nerves of a frazzled parent.
- Stay away from the trigger that causes you to feel like a failure. Re-visit it when you are in a calmer frame of mind.
- Write it out. You don’t have to blog if that makes you uncomfortable. Write in a diary or type it out on the computer and put it in drafts. Writing is therapeutic and soothes tempers when they are flaring.
The scariest thing of all though? There’s no way I can be sure that any of this will actually work on a given day. There’s no guarantee that my child will love me unconditionally all life through.
There’s absolutely no conclusive formula to determine if I am actually helping her or hindering her progress. But I try.
The best I can do is try, despite every cell in my body screaming and telling me otherwise on the days that seem the hardest, I’m determined to try and be the parent I need to be. That’s the most challenging job of all.