Do you ever have moments when your beautiful child looks you right in your eyes and asks you a question that you don't have an answer for?
It's in these moments that I start to wonder if I'm really cut out for this parenting gig.
The philosophical questions kids ask
Some children enjoy pestering their parents with questions like, "Why is the sky blue?" and "Can I eat ice cream for dinner?" My children, on the other hand, seem to enjoy asking me questions like, "Mom, why are we here?" and "Mom, what’s the point of life?"
I mean, really. I can barely answer those questions for myself, let alone answer them in terms a kindergartner can understand.
I can remember dreaming when I was younger about the kind of parent I would be someday. I knew I would have an arts and crafts cupboard, I'd be the kind of mother who would never worry about her hair getting wet when we went swimming, and I would spend endless hours reading to them. But above all, I'd be the kind of calm, patient, and wise mother who had all the answers.
A few of my assumptions about motherhood did come true. We do have an arts and crafts cupboard (though it's a disaster most of the time). My hair is pretty much always in a ponytail, so swimming is never a problem.
I’ve also been successful in raising little bookworms. But when it comes to that wise woman I thought motherhood would magically turn me into? It hasn’t happened yet.
Motherhood isn’t magic
As it would turn out, motherhood isn't magic. Sure, motherhood magically gave me the ability to survive on very little sleep, but it didn't magically give me answers to everything in life. This is especially true when it comes to my children.
Having a baby opens us up to so many questions and decisions. Do you choose a natural childbirth, or get an epidural? Do you vaccinate or not vaccinate? Do you enforce limited screen time, or go with the flow?
There are big and small questions. Honestly, it's completely overwhelming at times. One of the hardest parts about parenting is that it’s always changing. When you feel like you're just getting a handle on the newborn stage, you're into the baby on the move stage.
When you think you've finally stopped crying about your baby starting kindergarten, they are refusing to hold your hand when you walk down the street. And just when you finally have mastered the perfect tooth under the pillow move, your kids are rolling their eyes at you and slipping right into the teen years.
The new parenting frontier
I’ve had so many instances as a parent where I felt like I crawled my way to an answer or a solution, only to immediately have a new problem pop up. It's never-ending, and the weight of responsibility that rests on your shoulders as a parent can make you question almost everything.
And to add even more of a twist, it's my own personal theory that we’re on the cusp of a parenting frontier. Parenting has completely changed today. In a lot of ways, it feels like modern-day parents are blazing a new trail.
No other generation has to navigate the obstacles that we have as parents these days. Today, parents face:
- more health challenges
- more special needs
- more emotional stressors
- less day-to-day to support
- more isolation
Family structure has changed, and our policies and day-to-day structure to support those families haven't necessarily caught up to those changes. We're all attempting to play catchup on our own.
I'd love to be able to turn to my mother or my grandmother and gather some hard-earned advice on being a mother. But they can't exactly offer suggestions on how to safeguard your kid from accessing YouTube when you're not looking, or how to take a digital break when you work from home.
My conclusion? Parenting has changed, and parents change along the way as we raise our kids. I used to think that was a bad thing, like I needed to have all of the answers before I became a parent.
I often feel frustrated with myself, especially because I tend to be an overthinker and overanalyze. No small decision in life comes easily to me. I want to be able to wisely guide my children through their own lives. The only problem? I'm still guiding myself in a lot of ways.
I'm starting to see that maybe it’s OK if we don't have all the answers as parents. Sometimes, life is tough, confusing, and messy. Perhaps the best I can do is just wing this whole parenting thing as I go. I’m going to be honest with my children and teach them that we can look for the answers together.