Sometimes as parents, well, I think pretty much every time, we find out that we’re pregnant and gonna have a baby, there’s this fantasy that comes up…
We have this fantasy of what parenting is gonna be like…
This vision, this dream, this fantasy really does feel good.
We read ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ and we think we’ve got it all covered.
The nursery is decorated just so, we’ve got the bag packed for the hospital with all the recommended items. We bought the highest rated digital thermometer, and we’re ready to go!
We are gonna do this parenting thing, and we’re gonna do it just right…
Then you have a kid who seems not to have read all the books on kids’ behavior and who is forging their own path bravely and with huge determination.
You’ve got a strong-willed kid!
How come there’s no book called ‘What to Expect When You Have a Teen Called Malcolm/insert your kid’s name here’?
They wouldn’t be able to outline that out month-by-month with helpful illustrations!
We have this expectation of how this is gonna go. I thought I was gonna birth this really sweet little girl who was gonna sit in the corner at this little wooden table and look after her soft toys all day, and color, and smile at me.
We’d bake together, and we’d laugh when accidentally we got flour on our noses as light streamed through the kitchen window…
I’d teach her some cool science experiments and read her some books about brave girls who did big things, and she’d be inspired to create a beautiful and bold life.
We’d read ‘Little Women‘ together, and she’d be like Beth with her selflessness and Jo with her creativity…
It would be an easy life of sunshine and fireflies and s’mores from the bonfire.
What I got was a boy who is a full-contact sport. Who, let me tell you, is not taking my shit at all.
He has no problem challenging me when I’m wrong or when he doesn’t agree.
Sometimes for us as parents, there almost needs to be a mourning of the dream we had and an acceptance of what we have.
Again, frustration is a gap between expectation and reality.
This isn’t to say we don’t love our children.
I mean, I’m pretty sure that even if things are really tough for you right now, that you love your kid/kids very much and I adore mine.
But it really did help me when I let go of the fantasy of how this was gonna go.
Because that for me was a trigger. It triggered me very quickly when Malcolm was little, and he was melting down, and he wasn’t doing things my way.
When we let go of our ideal of what they ‘should’ be and allow them to be who they are it sets up space for you to be patient and understanding, for you to question your expectations of them, for you to understand their quirks and for you to see the strengths that you might otherwise have missed.
This doesn’t mean if you have a kid that wants to break all the rules and smash through all the limits that you need to change all of those rules or limits or get rid of them.
It does mean though that you can look at the situation with an underlying awareness that those rules are a higher jump to clear for your kid than the kid you thought you would have.
The kid you thought you would have:
Perhaps always did their homework.
Always was on time.
Always helped at home….
You didn’t have the kid you thought you would have, you had YOUR kid.
Amazingly unique, one of a kind and yes sometimes SUPER FRUSTRATING.
Yes, parenting can be a full-contact sport with a strong-willed kid.
But sit in the bleachers?
This is a game I wanna play to the best of my ability, and I know I’ll be glad I did.
I know my kid and I can have the relationships we have in our family and can make this worth it.
Until next week,
P.S. Feeling 2-Nil down in the parenting game? I can help. Click here to learn more.
P.P.S. My kid is what they call a ‘Restricted Free Agent’ in the NBA. He’s a free agent, and we got limits. 😉