Life is hard. Being a parent is hard. How were you able to make it seem so easy?
When I was a kid, I thought I had the strictest parents on earth. I felt like they hated me. It seemed like they enjoyed yelling at me, grounding me, taking things away.
“Oh, you want to that new Tommy Hilfiger sweater? Better get a job.”
“Ha! You’re not going out tonight until you bring in the firewood.”
“Stay over a boy’s house, are you SERIOUS?!”
My parents made my teenage years a living hell.
They wouldn’t buy me all the newest fashions or greatest gadgets (come on, who didn’t want a pager!). I had a curfew until I was 21 years old – and even then I had to beg to have it removed. I had to help with chores around the house – I can’t tell you how many dishes I PURPOSELY broke just so they’d think I was terrible at it and never ask me to do it again. When low cut shirts were cool – forget it, I got a tongue lashing every time I tried.
Now, I wasn’t completely easy to handle (hey, at least I admit it). I know was pretty difficult, but I had some good points too. I was honest and extremely upfront with my parents. I rarely had to lie to them (though it would often cause me trouble to a fault). My parents always knew what was going on. Maybe that is why they were so tough on me, they saw what I was doing. Plus, hey, I was always on Honor Roll and in the college prep classes.
But through everything – all the fighting, the swearing, the screaming, crying, and the ‘I hate yous’ – it seemed my parents didn’t bat an eye. It was so easy for them to tell me what to and not to do.
I’m now in my thirties.
I’m married with two kids of my own. And I have to apologize. I have to apologize for all the fighting, screaming, crying, and the ‘I hate yous.’
My mom used to tell me, “One day you’re going to have a kid just like you.” And she was wrong. I have two. I have two little girls who are exactly like me. They are bull-headed, strong, dramatic, and full of life. Every day, I curse my mother for putting that karma on me.
As I try to parent my children, I realize how HARD it is. How soul sucking. How crushing. My parents made it seem so easy. And yet here I am, struggling. Just trying to get by. Feeling like I’m missing out on so much because I have to put my kids in time-out, make dinner, get them to do their chores, and yell at them for hitting each other.
And I realize this…
It wasn’t easy for my parents. All the pain they caused me, it pained them too. It had hurt them just as much as it had hurt me. And because of this, I realized they actually knew what was best for me because they’d been in my shoes before as the teen making all the wrong choices and looking for the easy way out when you need to learn life isn’t easy.
They ACTUALLY WERE SMARTER than me (and still are today).
My parents wanted better for me. They pushed me. They forced responsibility on me. They made me stronger.
Parenting is not easy. It is a catch 22. You have moments of absolute glory when you’re the best mom ever and you’ve got a handle on things … then there are the moments were you wonder how your parents did it without being committed.
It’s a rough road. I am grateful for my parents. I am grateful that they made it look easy. And I’m grateful they stuck to their guns.
I hope in twenty-five years when my children are old enough to be parents themselves, their kids come to the same realization. Maybe, it won’t take them as long as it took me.
Thank you Mom and Dad for everything.
I don’t know if I could ever parent as well as you all did, but I sure am going to try. So tonight, when I go home and my kids are driving me to the point of rocking slowly in a dark corner saying ‘momma is not here right now’… I’ll remember that I am not alone. My parents went through it too. And they made it out alive.