When I first had begun my journey of motherhood, I was insanely frustrated by the fact that nobody was brutally honest about how hard parenting is.
I am actually a little pissed that I am not unique in a way. But, I am also quite comforted to be reminded that I am not completely alone in my troubles.
I have two children: two amazing, beautiful, kindhearted boys who are, without question, the most important and the most phenomenal things in my life. These two are very different and that always amazes me. They came from the same gene pool. They live in the same home. They follow the same routines. But, they have their own distinct personalities.
My firstborn is a pistol. He is fiercely, triumphantly, vehemently independent. He is also brave, gentle, giving, creative, smart and energetic. But, for the sake of this post, I am just going to focus on the independence for now.
I am very proud that he is a free thinker. No, seriously: VERY PROUD. As an academic myself, I have very high regard for individuals who pave their own ways. He is an inventor, not a consumer. He is a leader, not a follower. That fucking rocks.
This quality made it difficult for me, though, to learn how to effectively parent. I was really thrown into the deep end of the motherhood pool and left to sink or swim with this little guy. As a tiny bean, he rarely wanted to do anything I told him to do: ever. This was very trying. And, it was potentially dangerous as many of things I told him to do were merely for his own personal safety.
He is a little older now, though, and he and I have really gotten to know each other well. I have always loved him with every bit of my being. But, we are becoming friends now, too. And, I can’t explain how awesome that is. If you have a great relationship with your kid, though, you know just what I mean.
My baby is as happy as they come. He smiles nearly incessantly. And, he is so freakin’ laid back. All. The. Time. He can’t be shaken (well, unless he has a new tooth coming in or desperately needs a nap). He pleasantly goes along with just about any request I make of him. He isn’t a mindless drone, mind you. He is just so pleased to learn and discover and be shown the ways of the world. He is excited to see and wonder and experience.
Toddlerhood is really rough. If you are a parent, I am not really breaking any big news here.
For one child, the toddler period was filled with “No!” and “I don’t WANT to!” and “Aaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhh!”
For the other the toddler period seems to be filled with “Okay, Mommy!” and “Hee Hee” and lots and lots of snuggling.
I love both of these children. One is not better than the other. I don’t wish one is, was, or would be more like the other.
But, wow. This should be added to the list of Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Parent: raising a young child is basically starting a brand-new relationship. You may not be in love at first. You each may do things that the other doesn’t understand or pisses the other party off to no end. You may each say some things you don’t mean. You may feel like walking out. You may sway from love to frustration and back again many times in a single day. You may disappoint one another. And, it may take you both a very long time to really get to know one another deeply.
When you bring a child into a family, you are meeting a new person and starting a new relationship with him or her. All relationships have rocky spots. All relationships have peaks and valleys. This is no different.
You may be blessed with the world’s most wonderful child. He or she may be so “easy,” as parents say. This often translates to a child who is generally quiet and obedient; a child who sleeps well and loves to try new foods; someone who never embarrasses you in public or has poop squish up her back while you are in line at the grocery store. You may also be blessed with a “difficult” child. He is often boisterous, physical, and messy; he has a mind of his own; he doesn’t care what other people think; he may be a pretty big personality. Either way, you’re still blessed.
The first relationship our children have is with their parents. Then, hopefully, they will go on to have hundreds of other successful relationships: with friends, romantic partners, classmates, teachers, coworkers, neighbors, spouses, families and so on. What we build with our kids follows the same pattern we’ve forged as we might have built any other relationship of our own in the past. And, how we build our relationships with our kids helps show them the foundation for how they should create interpersonal relationships with others in the future.
This is yet another way in which we might inevitably to something to send them into therapy one day.
Nevertheless, with our best intentions, we move forward, getting to know these little personalities better and better with each passing moment.