Parenting is a lot of things. Everything from a cup overflowing with love to an overly frequent test of your patience; from moments that just melt your heart to moments that make you want to scream and pull your hair out; from tears of joy to tears of frustration. It is one of those things in life that no matter how much you practice for it (if you can even practice), nothing will prepare you for the real thing. It’s not a job that has standardized tests (although maybe it should come with a required course in child-rearing), and it’s quite hard to get any pre-service training, even if you are willing to pay. (Yes, babysitting is great training for some aspects of parenting, such as changing a diaper or entertaining kids inside on a rainy day, but it doesn’t prepare you for the harder stuff, like what to do when your kid hits you.) Parenting is something that we enter into blindly, although hopefully willingly, and that crazy love we have for our kids is what keeps us going through the rough spots.
I doubt there are many (if any) parents out there who would claim to be a perfect parent. We all make mistakes. Heck, my parents even joke about all of the mistakes they made on me… but I still turned out OK, so they couldn’t have made that many mistakes. Parenting is less about trying to be perfect and more about loving your kids in the best way you know how; learning from your mistakes instead of trying to avoid them.
In my family (as in many others — including elephant herds!), it takes a village to raise a child. When my extended family gets together, we don’t hesitate to parent each other’s kids. It’s a nice break for me (and the other mommas) and means that I don’t have to have eyes on my kids ALL. OF. THE. TIME. which means I actually get to eat my breakfast while it’s still hot (Ah, livin’ the dream!).
This village style of parenting helps in much the same way as a GPS system might help you to drive. It offers you suggestions (“she has gas” instead of “turn left here”), but doesn’t get mad at you if you refuse to follow its advice. If you don’t turn left, the GPS will recalculate your route (although sometimes it does tell you to turn around… haha). My family also just rolls with it and will still love you no matter what you decide.
If you don’t have a village-family, you are welcome to join mine virtually. We’re in this together momma! Ask and I will try and answer. And if I don’t know the answer, chances are one of the other mommas in my village does. They are a wealth of resources and help to take away the blindness of what to do when X, Y, or Z happens with your kid. Sending you all lots of hugs and support today and every day!