There was a moment yesterday either before or after my oldest daughter’s birthday party, where it hit my wife and I that we’ve been parents for now four years and counting. Four years doesn’t sound like a long time when you put it in perspective of the span of a lifetime. But, when we consider it now, having lived through the past four years, it really seems like both a lifetime and only moments ago. It’s gone by so fast, yet, it’s hard to remember the time before we were parents. Sure, there are highlights, but truly our worlds changed on March 16, 2010 when we officially became parents.
I used to say that the best way I can describe parenthood is like the feeling of being “on” that a teacher feels during the school day while they’re with their students. I remember those early years of teaching, I’d come home and pass out on my couch after school, completely mentally, emotionally, and physically drained from the day. Parenthood is like that feeling, on steroids. Some days, it is a completely draining endeavor. And every time you feel like you’ve reached the very end of your stamina, one of your children does something that provides that simple little spark to remind you why you choose to become a parent in the first place. I’ve also come to learn that the more you focus on finding those sparks, the more you’ll find them.
Like any large endeavor worth tackling, parenthood shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Samantha and I spent about a year preparing (as best we could) to become parents, and we still weren’t as “ready” as we would have liked. Though, I will say that I believe the best preparation we made was the investment of time and growth in our own relationship. We waited five years after we were married to have kids, purposely, because we wanted to focus on each other. I’m finding that in parenthood, it helps to have a partner, someone with whom you can have a united front in the subsequent battles to come. Fortunately parenting provides constant “on the job” training that’s ongoing. That feeling of being failures at times? Don’t worry, you’ll get over it unless you’re a perfectionist (which you’ll probably get over that too if you’re smart). Kids have a way of forcing you to acknowledge the best and worst of yourself. Often.
Over the past few weeks in preparation for her birthday party Riley made several specific requests about what she wanted to do and how she wanted the day to go (she got that honestly from her father’s genes lol). She wanted to be a princess, with her tiara, a wand, and she wanted to be ensconced in pink. There was a moment during her birthday party when before we ate, Riley offered to say the blessing. That’s my girl! There was another moment yesterday during her party when we were watching an old video of her Christmas Ballet recital and one of our friends remarked, “look at Riley up there doing her own thing, she’s being a leader.” Absolutely. Those are moments you pray for as a parent (literally, each night one of our prayers for both of our daughters is that they are leaders among their peers, like Esther, for such a time as this). This is why I love parenthood, getting to see the manifestation of your hopes and dreams for your child come to life, the potential that even you don’t see yet, birthed as they full their life’s destiny.
And we get a front row seat to it all.