The Most Important Parenting Lesson I've Learned (so far)

The Most Important Parenting Lesson I've Learned (so far)

“[Motherhood is] the biggest gamble in the world. It is the glorious life force. It’s huge and scary—it’s an act of infinite optimism.” ~ Gilda Radner, American comedienne and actress

“Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.” ~ Harriette Hartigan, Photographer

"If you ever want to know how badly you suck at life, have a kid." ` Reese, The Importance of Being Reese

Before my daughter came along, life was grand. The hills we alive with the sound of music. I was the perfect daughter who could do no wrong. I had already graduated at the top of my class with one degree and I was nearly done with the second. I had traveled the world, and I was laying down the foundation for a successful (and probably way too stressful) career in Public Relations.

But then I had a kid. Then suddenly everyone had an opinion on how I was raising said kid. My mom, my mother-in-law, my friends who have kids, my childless friends, my neighbors, my mailman, the strange lady who wanders down the street wearing her underwear outside her pants...

It's exhausting listening to others point out the various ways in which you are screwing your child up so badly that she'll require years of intensive therapy to recover from that one time you told her "No, you can't have an Oreo for a bedtime snack." Four years in, and I'm here to tell you that it doesn't get better.

But you do.

You'll learn ignore the blatant stares of disapproval; in fact, some days, you'll stare right back. Unblinking. Undaunted.

You'll be that mother that realizes that life is so damn short that feeling inadequate because your child has a meltdown in the candy isle, is a waste of your time. Some days you might even lay down on the ground next to her kicking your feet and wailing.

You'll let her pick out her own outfits, and only slightly cringe when she chooses to wear polka dot tights, a hot pink tutu, a striped shirt and cowboy boots.

You'll learn to cherish the nights she crawls into bed with you because she needs her mommy to keep her safe from the monsters under her bed.

You'll do all of these things because one day you'll realize that they'll come a time, much sooner than you think, when she no longer needs you the same way. And it will hurt. Badly.

There's this one universal truth when it comes to parenting-- we all do it differently. Some days we're on our A game. We manage to pack them a perfectly nutritious lunch, get them to school on time, pick them up from school, chauffeur them to and from band, football, basketball, cheerleading and/or soccer practice, help them with their homework, prepare a Pinterest-worthy dinner that could give Rachael Ray a run for her money, and tuck them into bed at night. But some days all we can do is close our eyes and hope for the best. Parenting is the only role in which you are simultaneously the teacher and the student.

We are not supposed to be replicas of one another. We should celebrate our individuality in parenting and strive to do things differently. We should revel in it and appreciate the wealth of diversity that parenting brings.

I know I'm not the perfect parent. I don't have all the answers, not even on my best day. But I know this, I am forging a bond with my daughter that is absolute and unequivocally unbreakable.

I am flawed. I make mistakes. I am not a perfect mother-- in fact, some days I'm not even a good mother, but I am hers and she is mine. That's what parenting is. It's not always getting it right or following some universal guidelines. It's being there--being present.

So the next time someone tries to tell you how to be a parent, remind them that in your eyes, your child is the most precious person in the world, and that despite all evidence to the contrary, you've got it all under control.

Chin up Buttercup, it only gets better from here.

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