No one adequately prepared me for parenthood and in hindsight, no one really could.
How can one be adequately prepared for something that is constantly changing, constantly growing, filled with immense joys and filled with indescribable trials? I often hear people talk about having kids “when they are ready”, but you will never be fully ready.
It’s like childbirth. You can watch the videos, take the classes, and read the books, but you won’t be fully ready until you are in it, experiencing it and learning as you go. You’ll come to find out that the books and classes and videos didn’t really prepare you very well at all.
As a parent, you will not know how to handle every situation. You will not say the right words all the time. You might not even keep your cool all the time. Shocking, I know. You may even sound like your mother or father and say and do things that you did not think you would.
You can acquire skills and you should. You can learn communication tools, and you should. You can study parenting techniques until you are blue in the face, but you’ll still never be “ready” as in ready for it all. Ready as in having the ability to handle every bump and turn with perfect grace and wisdom. In your own ability, this is impossible.
There will come moments in your parenting journey when you are at a complete loss and moments where you totally blow it. Your kids will do some horrible things, sometimes to themselves and sometimes to others. They might shock or sadden you with their choices. It’s bound to happen in some way at some time.
They may attack their sibling, whom they were supposed to be playing with while you attended to another matter. They may be far too old to be behaving the way they are and they may scare the tar out of their sister. (This is completely hypothetical obviously). When ‘said’ sister comes to where you are, screaming like a banshee and crying foul play, you might get upset. You might pull the older child aside to ‘discuss’ what happened.
You will muster all of the calm that is inside of you, and you will explain this way and that way and ask all the right questions to bring about an acceptance of personal responsibility only to be met with, “she’s not really hurt,” and a shoulder shrug, the kind that says “so who cares.”
And you will hear yourself say, “Go to your bed until you get it in your soul that you were irresponsible here and made the wrong decision.” Then as your child walks away you will put palm to face and mutter those words to yourself, “get it in your soul?” and wonder who on earth says that. Luckily it was said with a calm voice…obviously. The calm voice is far scarier than the loud voice.
Parenting is humbling. I have found the opportunities to be humbled only increase as I grow in experience, which seems very wrong to me. Aren’t we supposed to get better at this?
I’m learning I can’t be too hard on myself. It is inevitable that you and I will make mistakes. We can’t waste precious time and energy reliving all of them. This reminds me of a story my husband told me about two football coaches. It was a championship game, and it meant a lot to both college teams. The pressure was high and the score close.
One member of the visiting team made an error and immediately his coach laid into him, berating him over and over for the mistake and highlighting everything he did wrong. Later in the game, when the score was tied 10-10, a player from Texas Tech broke what would’ve been a 49-yard touchdown, but the player started celebrating on the field too early. He dropped the ball before crossing the goal line and ended up turning over possession to the other team.
What do you think his coach did? This was a costly mistake. The player’s ego cost the whole team.
Kliff Kingsbury, the Texas Tech coach, pats him on the head and says, “Alright brother. You’ll do better next time, won’t you?”
They ended up winning the game. The player knew full well he messed up and the coach was wise enough to know that berating him would not inspire him or the team to go on to victory. This is how we must treat ourselves when we totally mess up and fumble in parenting. “That’s alright, I’ll get it next time.”
You may find yourself uttering stupid lines like the one I said above and you may wonder who on earth does that. Apparently, I do, and I’m just here to make you feel better. You’re welcome. Now you can pat yourself on the back and say, “I am an awesome parent”, because surely you have never said anything so silly. If you have, you are still awesome and in good company.
So carry on! You’ll get it next time.
Always in your corner,