Ah, parenting. It conjures images of pillow fights, spilled milk, scary books read by moonlight, and laughter galore. Yet it also incites within us our greatest anxieties and fears. Parenting as a life experience has long been characterized as an immense challenge that pushes us to our limits—sometimes beyond them. It is certainly unforgettable and full of rewards, too.
For many of us, becoming a parent means the most challenging part of life is finally upon us. As we're handed the responsibility of raising children, a new world opens up before us—a world in which we are charged with providing not just the physical necessities but also the emotional and mental sustenance to ensure our child grows into a secure, happy, healthy human being.
The emotional complexity of parenting is perhaps its real hallmark characteristic. As children, we stick our hands in boiling water without realizing the consequence. But when we become parents, our every move is filled with thoughtfulness and extreme caution as we aim to protect our child from harm. We often find ourselves in unchartered territories and obliged to make decisions on their behalf, from what movie they should watch all the way to helping them navigate puberty and relationships with the opposite sex. Suffice to say—it's incredibly overwhelming at times.
And yet, for all its difficulties and rollercoaster of emotions, there are great joys to parenting as well. Experiencing firsthand the wonder of your child coming into this world for the first time is unlike any feeling in the world. Every day thereafter is filled with milestones and heartwarming moments as you help nurture and guide your child through life. You develop a greater understanding of yourself and your motivations. You appreciate your good fortune and adapt to embracing emerging challenges and opportunities with patience, love and humor. Watching your child develop into a unique individual with idiosyncrasies that you recognize of yourself—the sheer pleasure and gratitude that comes with this process is immeasurable.
Parenting brings with it myriad rewards and joys, though their impact may be subtle due to their day-to-day nature. A hug here, a smile there, a conversation that breaks barriers; these tiny moments can add up to beautiful experiences over time that will become part of a parent's cherished memories forever.
What's more, the relationship between parent and child matures into something magnificent as they grow older. With newfound maturity comes a newfound appreciation for each other as trust builds and vulnerabilities revealed. Talking with your child as if you were two equals fosters understanding, respect, and love between both parties in an incomparable way.
It's not easy being a parent, but it sure is special. Simply encouraging your kid to dive into whatever creative bounds they wish can bring immense happiness and pride. Helping them come out winners in tough situations gives you an adrenaline rush like no other. Seeing your progeny reach milestones that you yourself failed to reach gives you courage and inspires you to explore visions of success too lofty for your own imagination. Watching your kid defeat social stigmas is amazing! Best of all - witnessing your kids happily do what makes them feel amazing is unparalleled joy!
As we look upon the parenthood experience, whatever our various versions may be, it is above all an immense source of joy--an especial mirror to ourselves that unlocks an infinite capacity in each one of us; our unselfish devotion for others, inner strength, courage and resilience for whatever may come our way.