Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Quarter Century of Parenting

You may have heard the saying that to become an expert in something, you must keep at it for 10,000 hours. I did the math and that comes out to a little over 416 days. I need to make a bold statement here: That saying does not apply to everything.

My oldest child turned 25 yesterday, and that amounts to 219,000 hours of parenting exactly. (Since each child has individual needs, I think we should get simultaneous credit for hours spent on other kids as well...) I still would never call myself an expert. I'm sure my kids would agree.

Here is some of what I've learned, though, in a quarter century of being a mom:

  • While there may be predictable events, such as walking, talking, and learning to ride a bike, no child is predictable. Get some guidance from the baby books, but keep in mind that your child hasn't read them.
  • You can do a lot of things wrong with your child as they are growing up, and they can still turn into decent people. To say there are things I wish I'd done differently is an understatement, but my daughter has grown into a compassionate, funny, intelligent, beautiful adult. She is the kind of person I would choose as a friend, even if she wasn't related to me.
  • You can do a lot of things right, and they will still do things differently than we had hoped they would. I remember the first time Jessi sat up straight and pulled away from me. She was about 3 months old, and up until then had kind of shaped her body against mine. But on this day, she pulled herself forward and there was a space between us. I felt something akin to panic stir within me as I realized I wasn't just holding a baby, but a real person who would make choices and pull away from me no matter how hard I tried to hold her still.
  • Time really does go quickly. I can remember well-meaning old women (45-ish) telling me to treasure these moments of childhood because they grow up so fast. I wanted to tell them to mind their own business and get on with my pity party of frustration. They were right. While hours and days might feel like they last forever, years fly by. I remember my own 25th birthday like it was yesterday, and can't believe my daughter is celebrating hers.
  • You will learn more about yourself parenting than about your kids. Sometimes we learn just how selfish we really are as our needs/wants are often put on hold during the child raising years. Sometimes we learn that we have an amazing capacity to love, a love that has the power to break our hearts at times.
  • I saw a t-shirt once that said "Parents of teenagers know why some animals eat their young." Yup. That's all I'm saying. Yup.
Being a parent, know matter how you get there, is a privilege. It's been my privilege to watch my daughter grow into someone I am proud to call my friend, and laugh with as she navigates these waters herself with her daughter, Sophie. The last lesson learned: that curse your mom puts on you... you know the Jessi knows it too now.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!


  1. What a great post. My kids are still teaching me things. Time does fly and moments are fleeting so thank you for the reminder to relish them all.

  2. Great post! My son turned 25 on Jan. 21st also. He is the one that first taught me that my plans for my children were not necessarily God's plans for my children. It was a lesson in faith and letting go. He too is now navigating the waters with his own little boy. What blessings they are. I feel you pride and I share it with you.