Parenthood is sprinkled with all of the beautiful bits you’d expect it to be—a love unlike any other, more gratitude for your divine little being than your heart can hold, an instantaneously shifted view on life.
But alas, it isn’t all baby kisses and sweet smells.
Along with the beautiful, parenthood is also doused with a potent punch of fucking hard. I’m not sure how honest anyone has been with you about becoming a parent, but raising a child is fuuuuuuuucking hard.
Becoming a parent has definitely been one of the most illuminating, loved-up experiences of my life, but it has hands down, without a spark of a doubt, been the most challenging. The most expansive. The toughest and roughest period where I’ve experienced the deepest growth of my whole entire life.
Here’s a few unexpected things I’ve learned along the way from my two and a half year old:
1. Replace rigidness with flexibility and watch how much easier life gets.
We all have expectations, preferences, ideas of how we think things should, and will, unfold, whether you have kids or not. We all have shit we need to get done. But just because we desperately want something to go a certain way because that’s what would be most convienient, easiest, or the most enjoyable for us, doesn’t mean it always happens like that.
As we’ve all experienced, life doesn’t normally pan out exactly as planned.
There are going to be curve balls, especially when you add a child (or a job, or a partner, or friends or any interaction for the matter) into the mix. Somethings always gotta give, so I started thinking that maybe, at least some of the time, that something could be me.
2. Anger never makes anything better.
It doesn’t, not ever. Dousing a firey situation with fire only breeds more fire. Anger isn’t going to calm anyone down, or help you be understood or understand more clearly. It’s not going to make someone feel more relaxed or comfortable or more ready to go to sleep.
Plus, getting angry and loosing your peace completely usually leads to regret, to saying things you don’t mean, or to acting in ways that are totally out of alignment with who you consider yourself to be, and that never feels good.
I totally get that screaming or having a total tantrum feels amazing because it’s a literal release of all that pent-up frustration that can build through the challenges of raising a child and living your life, but the thing is the pleasure in it is so short lived. That sweetness of getting the anger out turns into the bitterness of guilt at getting angry at someone that you love rather swiftly.
I’ve sat with anger hangovers enough times to know that although keeping your cool when there’s flames of rage licking at your cheeks can seem close to impossible, the results of responding instead of reacting are far sweeter than those of loosing your shit!
3. There is so much joy in the simple things.
Fresh rain. Hand-picked flowers. An early morning swim. I admit it, I’m a bit of an excitement junky, always looking for that next big happiness hit, that next over-the-top-fullness-injection, so settling down into the routine my daughter required to function happily was a big adjustment for me. I missed all the travel, my life enhancers, my big nights out, being able to do whatever I wanted when ever I wanted.
I ended up looking straight past the good and the beautiful in my life while I endeavoured to become and do more. I wasted so much time being bored, missing out on the extra ordinary in my beautiful life while searching for the extraordinary out on the horizon.
Shifting perspectives from the big joy explosions to the smaller ones was like polishing the fog off my glasses. The magic and joy I’d been searching elsewhere for had been laid out all around me all along, I just hadn’t been seeing it. The joy in watching my little girl draw, the glitter of the sunlight as it spills out over the sand, the cozy warmth of my perfect bed. There are so many gems, so much joy scattered all around each one of us, we just need to shift our gaze to see all the gold dust at our own feet instead of waiting for something bigger and better to get happy about.
4. Give yourself enough time (and leave enough time in your schedule to enjoy your life).
No one likes to rush, or be rushed right? Rushing around, running late, and having too much on your plate, usually doesn’t induce feelings of serenity, but those of stress into your life, and who the hell needs more stress right?
The hecticness that hurricanes around you when you rush can leave you feeling out of control and chaotic, rather than productive and clear. Rushing feels blurry, fuzzy, out of focus. Rushing can be a hard habit to unwind, but if a calm life is what you’re after, why not stack the cards in your favour and make the going a little easier on yourself?
5. Nothing lasts forever.
Nothing does. Having a child has been the hugest confirmation and constant reminder that everything is transient—not just in reference to your child, but in regards to all aspects of your life. We are continually shifting and evolving and changing, and so too, are our relationships, our surroundings, our homes, our bodies, our children.
Everything is in transition—evolving, shifting, changing—all of the time. Nothing last forever – not the good phases, or the bad, so why not appreciate and have gratitude for the good, and when you’re pulsing through the challenging, remind yourself that the road will once again run smooth (or at least smoother).
As I said in my blog, There Will Again Be Light:
“Everything will shift and change, so stop sweating the small stuff. (Maybe the medium stuff and some of the bigger stuff as well).
Lighten your mental load of desperation knowing that no matter how rough the road feels right now, this too, shall pass.
It may not feel like it in the midst of it, but somewhere down the line, everything is going to change.”
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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