The elderly woman stood next to me in line at the grocery store and made googly-eyes at my daughter and son. She grinned gap-toothed at my 2 and 3-year-old children, flapped her nose, and made motorboat sounds with her lips. Then she looked at me, her eyes shining.
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“You’re going to have so much fun raising your children.”, she said.
That wasn’t what I expected to hear. People normally look at a little kid and say, “Oh, how cute.” Or ask how old he or she is. But she was predicting the future. It was a blanket pronouncement from somebody who’d been there once with her own kids, I guessed—and had a ball.
I confess I didn’t often see life through that grid, even when it came to raising my kids. Oh sure, there were fun moments. But most of the time having kids meant installing car seats, and watching out for strangers, and getting them to eat their carrots! That kind of …uh … fun.
Being a parent made me grow up! This can be one of the hardest things about having kids, but it’s one that you will eventually appreciate. Being a parent requires you to work on some of the basic skills of being a good person, and to do it under pressure. It teaches you to remember your manners because whatever you do or say is going to be mirrored back to you by small people who copy everything. (It really teaches you to watch your language, unless you’re not disturbed hearing four-letter words coming out of a four-year-old mouth.) It teaches you how to hold your temper, and it teaches you how to concentrate on important things when everything around you is chaos.
How do you continue to have a job and raise kids, I have been asked this often. Well, it helps to have a good support system—we don’t know what we would do without grandmas and grandpas—but the real answer is: you realize what’s important, and you cut out everything that isn’t.
Decide what things are really important and providing a lot of value to your life, and get rid of everything else. Having children may clutter up your home with the debris of childhood, but it requires you to declutter your life in a much broader way, removing the things that aren’t really that important. It’s easy to let your life get filled with a lot of ‘Do-It-Yourself’ projects, lame televisions shows, and all the flotsam and jetsam of popular culture. You cut most of that out, and you know what? You don’t really miss it.
Most of us find that we never appreciated our parents more than when we came by with the kids. We appreciated all over again what they had to do to raise us, and we’re even more grateful that they were willing to do it again, part-time, with our kids. Especially when I had to work two jobs.
It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard
Something parents don’t talk about enough is this sense of camaraderie. Maybe it’s just where we live, but when the kids have a meltdown at the mall, instead of angry glares from the other patrons, we’ve found that you tend to get knowing smiles. The kind of smiles that say, “been there, done that”—but also, “and I kind of miss it.”
Fun? Oh yes, Raising kids is fun….Even though, I confess, I didn’t see life through that grid, but because of my fun loving parents, I learned, that my children were everything. So Have Fun!