The Parenting Kaleidoscope | Hopes and Fears for our Children.
Our youngest turned 1 this weekend; birthdays for me are such emotional times. A time to reflect on parenthood.
This weekend I sat back and listened to individuals share stories of parenthood, spanning 70 years; all doing it differently, different times, expectations, pressures, all doing their absolute best that they could in the moment. Not all getting it right all the time but sharing those moments.
I watched the coronation and Kate navigate three children through the proceedings in awe of her calm, control, and in all honesty her figure, verses 3 children and me tempting to watch it on the TV for 10minutes gave quite the comparison! However, ultimately her and William are parenting, yes in very different circumstances but with many similar challenges; my third child is also the wild one!
I've really started to reflect on this recently; it all started when someone asked if I had a nice holiday. I said...."no. it was hard, really hard". Of course, I could have selected 20+ photos, made an insta reel or blandly replied to her question and present a different story, but on this occasion I didn't. What happened? We talked, really talked and shared and connected, our friendship is richer for this. I didn't need sympathy or counselling or for them to do anything I just needed to be authentic and connect. It's felt refreshing but challenging.
Isn't it strange. Parenting.
Whatever label you give yourself or however you got this role raising a human. Parenting is a storm of emotions ebbing and flowing changeable like the weather and often dictated by external forces we have little control over. Parenting can strip us of our identity for a while, for some its changed forever. Parenting can propel us to our most vulnerable state and yet we feel a fire and passion and love like never before.
Whether your parenting solo, blended, as a 2:4, as a grandparent, a carer, planned, unplanned, with help along the way or taking on the role from somebody who couldn't right now. Parenting is a story with the ending unwritten, it does not stop at 5pm, sign off at primary or secondary school or even when perhaps parenting becomes grandparenting, it doesn't stop for those whose story ended too soon. It stops with us.
The kaleidoscope of hope, love, fears, aspirations, or crazy whimsical dreams of a child's partly unwrapped gift of life resting on you. What a treasure....what a weight. We parent from lived experiences, from books by someone who said they had the answer, with words of others further on in their story echoing in our head, we seek the next confirmation we are doing this right from so many places and people, the comparisons we make often so unfairly. We're our own worst critic on a story only part written. Connecting is always the answer. You are the confirmation its ok.
This isn't always easy. Our greatest expectations of parenting challenged by behaviours and attitudes, unseen boundaries pushed to limits unknown and sometimes beyond. But, you taught this child to hold their own values, set these boundaries and know their worth....this is your parenting in practice. You are the safe space.
For some, parenting is doing everything to not replay mistakes gone before, in your own early chapters. Heal wounds caused in conflict of this young person's life, for some it's mourning for the child they thought they'd have, the story they'd written hypothetically now reading so differently. For others, its juggling multiples and work, finances and health, parties and social expectations, its managing homework's, appointments, sorting tea, washing hair, reading, advocating, keeping them safe. Parenting is a constant; the mental load at times can feel heavy. Be present, you are enough.
Did you get the 'easy" child, the sporty one, the crafty one, the one who can't sit still, the fussy eater, the non-sleeper, the daydreamer. Did you get the animal lover, the shy one or the crowd pleaser, did you get the non-verbal child or the child for whom routine and detail is everything. The tree climber, the academic, the worrier about having worries! Parenting is meeting all those needs. If we don't know where to start some days. Stop. Breathe. Meet them exactly there - where they are.
Ask. Share experiences but not confidences. Be authentic and true to those values. Show up and feel those emotions, demonstrate your coping skills, share your needs in a moment of grey and embrace every dam bit of the rainbow afterwards. Speak kindly to yourself and practice gratitude; for me, it's the belly laughs, Christmas lights, successes, the kitchen discos, first steps, camping, muddy puddles, sofa forts, film nights and popcorn, sharing. Like all great stories this is your superpower. Gratitude. This is parenting.
You are not alone, this isn't a race to the bottom comparing whose struggles are greater, whose more divided or situation most challenging. This is allowing yourself to share your story and talk about the grey without judgement. Parenting is growth. It's OK to talk about the grey.
You are enough.