We have officially been parents for 11 months. It seems like a lifetime, yet when I think that it hasn't even been a year, I am blown away.
Yet in these 11 short months, our world has totally been turned upside down. My whole world and outlook on life has changed, and although there has been many challenging and stressful times, the joy outweighs everything (Something I couldn't understand before I became a mom). You can read about our adoption story here
. This post however, is less serious, and I hope I can put my own personal parenting experience into perspective for parents and non-parents alike.
Firstly, my expectations of children and being a parent was totally skewed - I blame movies, advertising, Super Mom's and stock photos
All children are apparently different
This is ridiculous. It means every child you have is different. You may nail parenting with one child, then BAM! you have another, and you have to start all over again. Why can't they all be the same, so we can have one instruction manual for this?? It's not like they're their own little person or anything.
Parenting is a trick
I love my child to bits, but it's HARD work and all your good effort may fail dismally one day. Why do we choose to raise tiny little human beings, when living is hard enough?? The human race is not perfect to begin with (Bryan and myself included) - I lose my temper, Bryan has forgotten to feed Liya on occasion, and we sit on 'technology' 90% of the day.
I think we got tricked with some weird breeding instinct, so we don't go extinct.
Other parents make it look easy
When you're not a parent, raising children looks easy or at least doable (I mean, EVERYONE does it, there's however-many billion people on the planet, so of course it should be easy right?). Let me tell you, it is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I was convinced I'd be a stay-at-home mom once we got Liya, and promptly swallowed that dream 3 days after bringing her home. I didn't know what to do with her, and a toddler sticking everything into her mouth and throwing food on the floor was a bit scary... I soon missed work, and it was easier to drown myself in stuff I KNEW how to do.
Additionally, there really are Super Mom's out there who are incredible at raising children (or at least it seems). I know I sometimes come across like I have it all together, but a lot falls to pieces at home. We're just less likely to share that over coffee than our child's first word.
Becoming a mom opened a whole new can of worms
There are tons of new emotions (good and bad), insecurities and discoveries I could have never imagined pre-parenthood, but I recently learnt this is quite normal. As soon as you become part of the 'Mom and Dad' world, you quickly learn that there are 1,000,000 ways to raise children and do things for them (and yourself). Think about how different every person is. Now think about how every child is different too. What about how we're (mostly) trying to live better, healthier lives? (But that doesn't mean we're all doing the same things the same way) Now try imagine just how many different new things you have to learn to raise YOUR child, with YOUR ideals? It is so scary and of course, you only learn this after it's too late
I think I was lucky - because we adopted, I never got inundated with advice. I, of course, was also never pregnant which is apparently a sign for "give me all your annoying advice even if I don't ask for it". We all have this flaw, myself included. I'm learning
to wait to be asked for advice, and to take unwanted advice in my stride. It is an inevitable part of parenthood, and most of it is done in good faith. None of us are perfect and I have to keep reminding myself that.
Parenting is a new type of insecurity...
Picture this: Most of the time, you don't know what you're doing, sometimes children are loud and disruptive and sometimes you make bad decisions publicly... I often feel like a 'bad mom', and have heard all my close friends feeling the same way at least once. Honestly, we're winging it. We all have to figure out our own children and our own journey raising them. What made my journey a little more difficult at first, was how clearly obvious it was that I had adopted, so everyone was constantly staring at us. I reckon most mom's and their 'mistakes' blend in with life and they can get away with a lot of it, however I constantly have eyes on me. I used to think people were judging me (???) but I've recently realised they're only staring because it's unusual, and sometimes they admire us (I also bet half of it us in my head, like any insecurity). For a long time, I thought I was battling with the fact that we had adopted, but it was actually PARENTING that I was battling to adjust to. I have come a long way since.
All that said and done, becoming a mom was one of the best thing that ever happened to me
Like a lot of things I am learning as I become older and 'wiser', everything is a journey and God has put these things into place for good reasons. Parenting has been such a humbling experience - I thought I was pretty selfless, however I didn't realise how much I lived for myself until I was responsible for another life. Marriage is great, and it teaches you how to compromise for someone you love dearly, but you can still come and go as you please. Once we brought home Liya, we could no longer go out whenever we felt like it and a lot of our budget was put aside for her. We also have to really think about how we act and what we say now, because she is directly influenced by us. We love Liya to bits, despite how much she drains us and tests our limits. We know she is very new to this world, and we need to teach her, well, everything. I finally have a real glimpse into how much God loves and cares for us. The only difference is He is perfect, where we aren't. I used to get anxious thinking about all the things that can go wrong, like peer pressure or making mistakes, but mostly, I am afraid I am TOO imperfect to do this job God has given me. However, I lean on the fact that He IS perfect, and as long as I have Him in our lives, we will get through anything that comes our way.
She is a genuine joy in our lives. I know most of this post has poked fun at a lot of the challenging parts of parenting, but jokes aside, Liya brings a lot of love and joy into our lives. Parents often say "It's the hardest job ever, but SO worth it" - both things an understatement in words, and something you can only learn once you have your own children. There was no way to prepare ourselves, but we had to travel this journey to get where we are now, and I wouldn't change a thing.
I've learnt what a wonderful thing it is to grow and learn, by watching this little being having to learn EVERYTHING; I learnt to appreciate my Creator so much more; I've learnt what a joy it is to love someone so much, and be loved so much; most of all, I've learnt I'm not perfect, but that's ok.