Parenthood. Today this one word will function as a noun, verb, and adjective. I am — GASP — intentionally breaking a grammatical rule. I imagine some of you are rolling your eyes or sighing with a “get on with it” gesture. I will in a moment. I have decided that Parenthood is officially a complete sentence, and it has also earned the capital “P.” The mere mention of this word holds multiple meanings, images, and feelings.
Mothers and fathers are teachers with or without formal training and degrees. Children do not arrive with a “this is how you raise me” manual. I will never forget bringing Alec home from the hospital. At approximately 2 a.m., he suddenly began to scream and shriek. I stared at my husband with the shocking realization that we were the adults. And we had no clue what to do with this precious, boisterous little boy. I’ve learned we must be flexible and ready to pivot our approach with each individual child and situation.
The educator role shifts as our children get older. But I truly believe we are forever their guides. It is not just what we say. Our actions and how we treat others impact them more than what we preach. Every parent models for his or her child morals, values, ethics, and much more. Whether we realize it, or not, our children continually learn at every age by how we love and live.
We are providers. We are advocates. We are coaches (and sometimes referees). And we are caregivers. I’ve joked with my husband and kids that “Nurse Dara is off duty.” Why? My husband was gone for over a week and came home coughing and congested. Lovely. Then my daughter, Zoe, hurled most of Monday night. She apologized between each heave. I kept reassuring her there was no need to say sorry. (Zoe’s not only a kind, caring teen, but she knows I am literally phobic of v—-t. I cannot even write the word.).
Wednesday eve Alec said, “Mom I didn’t want to tell you, but I’ve had a sore throat for a few days. And I think I have a fever, too.” I was perplexed and upset. “Why on earth didn’t you tell me! I care about and love you!!” Alec told me he didn’t want to give it any energy and figured the “natural stuff” I always give him would work. I appreciated that he’s apparently listening to what he calls my “propaganda.” That’s Alec’s hilarious phrase for my positive outlook. I think he was also referring to sermons about how mindset and attitude directly affects our physical health. I tell the kids that our bodies listen to what we tell them. And I believe that wholeheartedly.
As each day ended, my typically upbeat energy dwindled and faded with the setting sun. (I may have threatened to check into a hotel.) By Thursday night, I said “I love you all but I must get into bed. I literally cannot see straight nor stay vertical much longer.” I was fiercely determined to stay healthy. We were celebrating Zoe’s close friend this weekend—no chance I would miss it!
Truth be told, I am not fond of resting and taking it easy. I canceled everything possible and took healing seriously. After waking from what felt like a mini-coma, I was so thankful for whomever discovered Amoxicillin (for Alec), Advil, essential oils, raw honey, and Vicks VapoRub. I flooded my body with fluids and anything else that would exterminate any incoming germs!
Everyone makes choices and lives in ways that are best for their family unit. I try consciously not to judge others. In our home, we are a bit old fashioned and perhaps “strict” in some ways. For instance, our kids have been clearing the table since they could speak. There are definitive consquences for disrespect. Compassion, communication, and integrity are unquestionably some of our collective core values.
Yet it is quite paradoxical. In others ways, we are laid back and liberal in our personal parenting style. Well, at least I am. My husband is sometimes appalled when certain words escape my mouth. I told him after nearly 16 years of being a mother that even a writer can run out of synonyms! “Darn” or “my goodness” sometimes just doesn’t have the same release as well, you know, certain rather uncouth words. According to my informal but revealing research, most parents of teens feel similarly. In fact, I have much more to share about parents who swear; I will do so in an upcoming blog.
I could (and may) write a book about parenting, parenthood, and all it encompasses. This blog post is just a snapshot of a role, as a mother, I feel so blessed to fulfill. I am beyond grateful for my husband—he is an active, engaged father—and together we are on the ride of our lives!
My children are MY teachers. I continue to become a more mindful, evolving human being because of them. If we choose to open our hearts and minds, parenthood provides a dynamic, constant education. The parenting journey is truly lifelong learning. It is an honor and a privilege to parent Alec and Zoe. I dedicate this blog post to you– my children, my teachers, my loves.