Parenting is hard.
I think this is an understated sentence and something that is not talked about enough. Sure it is rewarding and sweet at times, but it is not easy. We are not only doing this for the very first time, but we are also healing from our own upbringing. And for new parents, add sleep deprivation to the equation.
Since parenting is hard, I always rely on nuggets of wisdom from seasoned parents. When I say seasoned parents, I mean parents whose kids are grown or even just older than my own. My favorite thing to ask for is their take on what piece of parenting advice is the single most important. I love asking this because they always stop to think for a minute, and I feel if their experience could save me time and potential heartache. They have been in the trenches, and I can learn as much from their regrets and lessons and I can from their successes.
Some parents tell me to try to be a friend to them instead of a ‘parent’, because friends are told everything, and friends support them and accept them. Others offer the cliché but true, ‘enjoy them because they grow so fast.
My favorite one though is Just let them be.
In a way, what I have come to gather from these encounters on parenting advice is that once they are born we are slowly just letting them go. It’s something that happens without our knowledge and it happens every microsecond of their whole life, because the reality is, they are their own person. In a way, it is sad, because… well, we love them.
The truth is we have to let go of ideas about who our children will be or how they will be. We have to let go of expectations of how they should act or what grades they should get. We have to let go and let them fail or fall so they learn their lessons. We just have to let go, and letting go isn’t easy.
We can do our best to protect our children, but the fact is, life is hard.
I recall my husband saying to our then two-day-old son, “Son life is hard, you don’t always get what you want.” I was honestly a little upset at the moment, but it is true. Life is hard, and I think Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he claimed, “I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.”
So although parenting is hard and rewarding, I find the hardest part about parenting is letting go. I love my son to pieces, and although I know in my head that hardships are a necessary part of life that build character. In my heart, it is hard to let go of and watch.