By Lynn Lombard
“Parenting: The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I saw that quote on a poster many years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. Yep, I’m learning firsthand that parenting is a constant struggle. Half the time I feel like I am doing an OK job. The other half, I am convinced that I might just be terrible at it.
I’ve now realized that though children add love to our hearts, they also add a constant worry to our lives.
Fourteen years ago, I was in awe of my newborn daughter, but it’s no news flash that this life-changer would not only be exciting, but exhausting and down-right difficult. Figuring out what her cries meant and making sure she stayed healthy and safe were no easy task.
When she became a toddler, my husband and I were hit with added responsibilities, and though there were certainly some bad days, I felt triumphant when we made it through without any major catastrophes.
When our second daughter was born six years later, we relaxed a little, but it wasn’t entirely easier. We had a brand new child with a brand new set of cries and a totally different temperament. What worked with our firstborn didn’t always work with our youngest. For me, baby time was stressful, and though I hated to rush any part of my daughters’ growing up, I had secretly hoped that parenting would get easier as they got older.
Call me naïve. For the briefest of moments, both girls were independent at the same time, and the need for our constant attention diminished. I was able to sit back, take a deep breath and relish in our accomplishments.
But it turned out to be just a blip in our parenting lives. I snapped my fingers, and suddenly the innocence of their youth seemed to disappear.
Enter the teenage years. Bigger children bring bigger issues, and right about now, I’m looking for the biggest rock I can find to hide under. This parenting gig? It turned out to not only be arduous, but scary, too.
Each of my girls has her own personality. They are equal parts loving, opinionated, silly and, yes, naïve. When I give them one last kiss on my way to bed at night, I often get swept up with emotion. I watch them sleep, and I want to freeze time so I can keep them safe under the shelter of our love forever.
But I know that’s not the way time works. And I worry.
I think back to my childhood. I was a good kid, but I wasn’t perfect, and I sometimes found myself in situations where peer pressure stared me straight in the face. I was left with choices to make and, admittedly, it was challenging. I like to believe that I became a stronger individual because of my decisions to walk away.
But I wonder what will happen when my daughters face those same challenges? Have I taught them well enough to choose the right path?
Life was far from simple back in my day. We faced our share of bullies, violence, sex and drugs, but it’s only gotten worse. Today’s constantly escalating technology, including the internet and social media, is making life easier for adults, but more problematic for our children.
I’ve opened the lines of communication in our household, and I don’t mean texting. I’m talking about sit-down, face-to-face conversations. I’m talking about family walks, board games and wholesome, feel-good movies.
I tell my daughters I love them every single day.
And honestly, I don’t know if that’s enough, but I’m doing my best. I’m doing the toughest job I’ll ever love.