When our first child entered our lives, I immediately realized how difficult yet how fun parenting is. From day one, my role as parent was to help our children transition effectively from one phase to the next. It started with feedings and spreading those feedings over a larger span of time until they were sleeping through the night. Then it became fewer feedings until they could get to 3 meals a day. It was difficult, full of frustration and sleepless nights, but it was fun. As they got older, the phases became more about functioning in life – stopping tantrum-throwing, walking, potty training, eating table food, using the correct words to express thoughts, etc. Once again, it was hard, but it was fun and often funny. When the preschool years came, the phases became less definitive and more about me and my own issues – babysitters, preschool, watching them fall and get hurt as they learned to ride a bike/scooter/etc., dressing themselves, adding responsibility to their lives, etc. It has been hard and full of battles, but honestly, fun.
Parenting is difficult because while everything in me wants to freeze them, hold them, and protect them, my MAIN responsibility in life with respect to the children is gradually forcing them to become independent of me despite myself. Nothing can prepare a parent for how difficult and how counter-intuitive this can be, yet oddly how fun it can be. However, even more difficult than forcing the children to grow up is watching the children become very good at growing up and just eager enough for it to sting. I should take their enthusiasm as a sign of a job well done, and I shouldn’t want them to react any differently, but I secretly do. I secretly want them to need me as much I want to be needed.
Today my oldest went to 1st grade for the first day. He will be leaving me for a full day 5 days a week for the first time ever.
Today, my baby went to Kindergarten. He will be leaving me for a ½ day 5 days a week for the first time ever.
And I am beginning to see that many of the “fun” times of forcing my kids to grow up are 1) no longer forced and 2) no longer fun for me.