You have heard it said that people should "write what they know". I don't know a whole lot about a lot of things, but, one thing I do know something about is being a mother. Since May has that wonderful holiday Mother's Day, I felt I would write a series on some things I have learned from my experience being a mother. Hopefully some of you will relate!
TV's Big Brother has worn out the phrase "Expect the Unexpected", however, in all my years of parenting, this is the biggest lesson I think I have learned that I honestly didn't expect at all! Like most new parents, we think we have at least some knowledge of parenting that we have seen from our own parents (whether good or bad) and take it all on blindly. Then when things start to happen we don't expect.....well it's unsettling.
Be a "Prepper" - No, I don't mean a "Doomsday Prepper" (although these days it might come in handy!) but a person who works to prepare ahead. This lesson started early with a new baby. Learning to load a diaper bag with the most important things was a skill that came about pretty quickly when the baby made a mess I didn't expect! As the kids got older, you learned to figure out what they would wear ahead of time to help fight off problems as they got ready for school. You have pediatrician approved medicines on hand for that fever that pops up when you don't expect it. You learn to have things stored up in your cabinets in the winter in case school is cancelled and you are stuck at home for a while. (I am sure this skill will be one that a lot of new parents become experts at after the last few months of quarantine we have had!). Every parent at some point is thrown for a loop by something with their kids. That point becomes a moment that we use to be ready for the next moment. It's always a good idea to prepare ahead as best as you can.
New Experiences with Each Kid - I was a rebellious teenager. When I first became a parent, I felt like I had "inside information" about how to raise kids to NOT be that way. I felt that I would be a great parent of a teenager because I would understand how they felt and that I would be able to head off any issues they may have with some of the things I had issues with growing up! But, all of my kids had their own ideas on how to rebel, and no matter what I thought I knew about how to teach them, I kept learning I didn't really "know" anything because each and every one of them thought differently and responded differently in each and all circumstances! It was so disheartening because I thought that all of my kids could learn from my bad mistakes, but, the truth is, everyone learns from their OWN mistakes...so no matter what I tried to tell them, they had to go through stuff on their own. This was so hard to see. You learn to love and just be there with them through it. Not only did they all differ from me, but they also differed from each other. I learned that even if you had two children close in age, that not all discipline techniques worked on both. I had this warped idea each time I had a new child that all the previous things I learned with all the other ones would work with the next one, but this wasn't the case at all. Also, comparing the kids is a definite NO NO, even when you use it to encourage a child. In trying to relate to my youngest, I even tried to use my other kids' experiences to let her know things would be okay in whatever situation she was going through. She would get so angry with me because she felt I was comparing her to them. This idea of of them having their own ideas on how to live goes on into adulthood. All of them have found their own paths to follow. Sometimes they ask for my opinion and help. Sometimes they just want me to listen while they vent and just love them on the end of it. They are all their own people from the time they are born throughout their entire lives.
Kids Have Their Own Ideas - Along with how they all have their own experiences in how they go through life, they all have their own ideas on what way they want to go. When you are a parent, you have so many dreams and thoughts of what you kids will be when they grow up! Maybe you picture them getting married or joining you in the family business. It's okay to dream, but, remember it is YOUR DREAM and may NEVER EVER be theirs! Not only will they decide how they want to live their lives, as they grow up, you have to let them do it, even if it isn't something you would ever do yourself or even agree with. This is really extremely difficult, especially if you are concerned for their well being or future. Of course in these instances it's never something you expect. It doesn't matter how many kids you have, their lives will take turns you aren't expecting and learning to "roll with it" can be terrifying. Now, I am not talking about a small child thinking it's "OKAY" to jump off a roof. As parents it's our job to teach our children as best as we can to make good choices for themselves. Choices that will keep them safe and healthy and happy. But, as they start becoming young adults, in the process of letting them make their own mistakes so they will learn, you have to realize that sometimes a choice they make may not necessarily teach them that their choice was a bad one. It might end up being the perfect one for them. Other times, they may keep making horrible, dangerous choices and you have to be there to pick them up when they fall so very hard in life and love them regardless of how they have hurt you or others. Remember how I said they are their own people from the day they are born throughout their entire lives? You have to be you, but they have to be themselves too.
Be Patient - When you are dealing with your children, you need to be patient. Sometimes it just takes them a while to learn a lesson you are trying to teach them. Sometimes a child may appear that they will be a certain way when they are older, but, then completely change, so all your worry may end up being way out of proportion for what will happen. Other times, when they make a choice you don't agree with, if you are patient, you may find you understand them more than you thought and see why they made that choice down the road. When you are teaching yourself how to "expect the unexpected" you will make mistakes. Big ones. You may react horribly in a situation because it caught you off guard. You may feel you can't get past something that has happened between you and your child. So you need to be patient with yourself as well.
In all areas of parenthood, you will have all sorts of things that happen you don't expect, both good and bad. Just remember, this is normal. So prepare yourself as best as you can and know that the unexpected WILL HAPPEN and you may just deal better with things than I did! There I go trying to teach someone from my own mistakes again...old habits die hard!
Until Next Time!
Jen Lush--Associate Broker and Mother of Four Wonderful Adults Photo Credit: Benjamin Manley