Of all the advice I’ve been given regarding parenting:
-Let your baby cry.
-Don’t hold them all the time.
-Take them to church.
-They will try and control you if you let them.
-Take time for yourself.
-Don’t have any.
-Parenting is the hardest job.
-Kids take your life.
NO ONE–not ONE. SINGLE. PERSON. has advised:
-Love your children.
-Hold them and kiss them when they cry.
-Speak gently to them and take care to handle their feelings warmly.
-Play with them and thank God for blessing you with the opportunity.
-Teach them everything you know.
-Allow them to teach you and push you to learn new things.
-Respect and value them.
-Listen to them.
-Do not provoke them to wrath.
-Deal with your residual issues from your own childhood so you don’t pass them on.
While the advice I have been given is in some ways valuable, it is incomplete, and is, furthermore, secondary.
Maybe this speaks more to the culture around the parenting/children and adult relations of my roots, but all my life the topic and idea of children and child-rearing has been saturated with nothing but negative feelings and complaints:
You announce you’re pregnant and people (mostly elders) feel sorry for you, get nervous, worry, and verbally wonder if “you’re ready”.
…and then you have children, you’re on your own because raising them and even assisting and guiding you in raising them is nerve-wracking to those same elders, and you’ve only been forewarned to dread and fear and lament the day and…big surprise–you’re not “ready”.
…and then you find yourself inside of the same repeat cycle of complaining, lamenting and neglecting your children because you’re overwhelmed by the task that no one around you can encourage, teach or guide you through.
…and then you have a mental, physical, and spiritual break-down.
…and everyone is surprised.
…or worse–thrilled because you are confirmation that they were right–and that no matter how beautiful your family appeared…no matter how hard it seemed you were trying …no matter how happy and healthy your children seem…you can’t do it either.
Well, I’ve since realized a few things:
1) It is only damn near impossible if you’re doing it alone because, and I don’t care who tries to pretend otherwise, it wasn’t meant to be done alone. Those same elders who refuse to, or can’t help for whatever number of reasons they come up with, had mamas, sisters, aunties, friends–somebody they depended on to help them care for (and in some cases) raise their children. So, you know, miss me with your judgments.
2) Even with help, the task is yours and only becomes more difficult if you try to avoid it. So…you know…you have to just grow the [bleep] up and do it.
3) (and this is most important) You know what REALLY makes it easy? Loving it…and loving your children (and your spouse if you have one).
Finding joy in the blessing of being chosen and able to reproduce parts of yourself and extend your name and your legacy makes it easi[er]. Sending time with your children, getting to know them, accepting and cultivating who they are and who they can grow to be, makes it rewarding. Belly-laughing at the darndest things they say and do, and seeing parts of them that are undeniably you (even when you wish you could deny them) makes parenting fun.
if you’re isolated and alone and getting negativity or silence around your parenting journey–it’s hard and not always fun. But if there is anyone in your life who is responsible to you: parent, grandparent, guardian–then they owe it to you to help you and you owe it to yourself to make them if you have to. Trust me, somebody helped them with you. Remember all those nights at grandma’s house? All those summer visits with aunt so and so? Straight up LIVING WITH someone else? Yeah, you remember.
If you’re sitting your child in a corner watching the clock and waiting, hoping, praying that time will just speed by and make them not need you–it’s going to be miserable.
Time will not speed by,
they will always need you,
and you are always obligated to help them because they are always yours.
This is your life now.
You only risk them hating you because you haven’t loved them as you should (and the day will come where they will express this to you in word and/or deed), you risk not knowing your own children because you haven’t raised them, and you risk having some generally effed up kids…who become effed up people…who become effed up citizens contributing to an effed up world.
…and then you know, you’ll be even more miserable and depressed because now you’ve riddled yourself with all these regrets and if you can’t deal with them because they’ve piled onto all the other regrets you haven’t dealt with in your life, not only will you have been a horrible parent (because just pushing them out and keeping them breathing does not automatically make you a good one), but you’ll probably be a horrible grandparent too (more regret, etc, etc.).
To avoid this slippery slope of sadness, anger, regret, and depression, just love your kids…or seriously… don’t have any…but if you do, know that you’ve been chosen, and that the most important part of the responsibility of the forward progression of humanity is up to you.
That ain’t nothin’ to play with.