After you have been in school for twelve years you graduate. You’ve learned the basics (and a little more) and at some level you are “done”. You are ready to go to college and/or start your professional life.
I wonder who decided that twelve years of school was the right amount? If twelve years was picked because it represented the time needed to achieve some level of mastery, then does that mean I am ready to graduate from parenting? You see, on Monday I will celebrate the end of my twelfth year of being a parent and by no means am I feeling any sort of mastery, much less the ability to graduate.
For me the first few years of parenthood felt like one of those dreams where you know you have to take a test but you haven’t studied, or gone to class, or even know where the classroom is. One of those dreams where you wander around campus, lost in a mild panic, wondering what are you going to do? In the early years of parenting I was often lost in a fog of minimal sleep. I was focused on learning the basics of how to feed, clothe and bathe this little being. We muddled through and figured it out because we had to. We took advice from family and friends. We read the occasional article about sleep patterns and picky eaters, but at the end of the day it was about survival. If we all survived, it was a successful day.
Then in the seventh or eighth year, much like middle school, I began to realize there is a social aspect to this “parent school”. My child began to express more and more of their personality, which added a new level of complexity to basic needs we had just spent years mastering. At this point I started realize it’s about more than making sure they eat, sleep and play. Now we had to explain, discuss, negotiate and disagree. Like most middle-schoolers, I was awkward and at the same time head strong enough to think that I knew best and could figure all this out on my own.
It wasn’t until I reached “parent high school” that I realized I could no longer rely just on my own instinct and knowledge. I needed a tutor. They say when the student is ready they will find their teacher. Luckily for me, I found many teachers in the form of books and interviews. My relationship with my children began to transform. But what struck me the most was, why don’t people talk about this? Why do we all assume that as parents we have to have things all figured out on our own? At work, training classes help you to improve your skills to stay ahead, what if we viewed parenting the same way?
Twelve years ago, I never could have imagined this amazing journey I was about to embark upon. It has been a journey in every sense of the word, but has always been fueled by a love that is beyond words. No, it is not graduation day for me because graduation implies a level of being done. If anything, I’ve realized I will never be done and that is ok.
Are you at the point where you need a "parent tutor"? Email me at balancedheartcoaching.com and we’ll set up a time to chat.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.