The Heart of a Parent

I am so proud of my kids. They are strong. They have already been through many ups and downs in life, but they thrive. Most of the time. Sometimes they fall. Sometimes, they curl up into protection-mode, because the world can be a harsh place, and they are scared.

In the last few days, they have shown me many reasons to be proud. Giving a dollar to a homeless man, sharing a dessert they swore they wouldn’t with a sibling, calling out the child who was mean to another, reminding me that they have listened to what I have said, and learned what is polite, and what is not. They are growing up to be caring individuals. I have done a few things right. These moments are beautiful……for the heart of a parent.

Many times, though, I get the feeling something is brewing, deep in the pit of their being. They are not ready to talk yet, but it is coming. They desperately want to figure it out on their own, but they cannot. They don’t have the tools. Did I fail to provide them? Did I let them down? Or is it just something that comes with time, different for each child? Life lessons are hard for kids, maybe even harder for the parents who have to watch. And wonder. Could I have done something different, to better prepare my child? These questions are always floating around…… the heart of a parent.

Over the years I have learned to be patient. To give them time to come to terms with whatever is bothering them, and seek help or advice when they are ready.  I have learned that trying to dig it out of them will only create resentment. But it’s hard to wait, when you know they are struggling. Or hurting. Or stressed. Patience can be hard……… on the heart of a parent.

I can only hope that years down the road, I will see how these experiences helped them grow. Become stronger, and more resilient. Molded them into adults who will wear armor when necessary. Who will not hide from the harshness of the world, but will stand up,  weather the storm, and come out even stronger still. That as parents, we will have provided them with the skills and the determination they need to be successful in their endeavors, whatever they may be.  In the meantime….Parenting is hard…….on the heart of a parent.





WINE and Milk

Today, as I wrote a grocery list for my husband to take to the store, I thought about the ways I try to relax. How I deal with the pressures of parenthood, and how I occasionally escape them.

The first thing that came to mind for my list, was WINE. I need wine, to deal with the whine. Recently, a glass of red every evening seems to do the trick. Two on a bad night. As the kids get older and want to drink soda and juice more, I tell them to drink more milk and water. I have even stopped buying juice and soda as often. But as I have reduced the money spent on those things, I have increased the funds spent on wine.

I start looking forward to my glass of vino around 3PM, but I won’t drink if I have to drive, so I usually have to wait until around 6PM.  It takes the edge off. Dealing with a pubescent  tween, and a teen, is a difficult task. One on the way in, one on the way out. One girl, one boy. Big mess. The college kid is still living at home too. This means we know if he wakes up late, gets to school or work late, doesn’t go to school or work, or stays up all night. Things we would be oblivious to if he were staying in a dorm. There is a perpetual parental lesson going on. I am constantly trying to find a happy medium for my younger two children, and give independence to the oldest to find his own way.

Every now and then, but not nearly enough, I get together with a group of friends from my city. We met years ago, when our children were toddlers and newborns, in a local moms’ club. We have grown very close. At times, they are my rock. I can say anything to them, and them to me. We do not judge. I recently started saying “I love you” to them. A lot. I do. They are amazing. I don’t ever want them to think otherwise. They make me laugh. They put me into happy hysterics. They keep me sane.

We went out on Friday night. We ate some food, and drank some wine. And some Rumchata coffee. And a few Rumchata and Fireball Martinis (Except the designated driver, of course…..and to that person, I got it next time. You deserve to drowned your worries now and then too.) We know when it’s time to stop, and we don’t do it often, but the occasional release from the everyday is bliss.

When I woke up on Saturday, I realized how much better I feel the next day, than when I did after a night of drinking in my twenties. I could actually function. My stomach felt a little off all day, but nothing like the miserable hangovers I had in my younger years. I thought to myself……I think I’ll skip my daily glass for a few days. Maybe even weeks. The thought of a drink was not appealing. When I was younger, it would have been weeks at least, before I would partake again, and I wouldn’t even make it out of bed that day. It’s not that I’m proud of my higher tolerance, I just find it interesting. When I recall back to childhood, I don’t remember my parents having a daily drink, at least not faithfully, until the first child hit high school.  It must be something about those teen years. One child affecting  you sooner than the last. A cumulative effect.

On the complete opposite side of the “party with friends” spectrum, the restorative effects a hot cup of coffee, quiet house, and a good book can have are amazing. Escaping from reality for a few hours. Living in a different world for just a bit. A warm blanket, a lap dog, a purring cat. Heaven

As I’ve gotten older,  I enjoy staying home more than going out. There are actually days that I have little battles of will in my brain. “Maybe I should have my gal pals over.”  “Ooooor….I could just snuggle into bed and watch Netflix.” “I could really use some girl time.” “Movie marathons with Bill are so nice though.” “If the kids are doing their own thing, it may be quiet.” “If not, we do have those really good ear plugs from our overseas flight days, and I’m reading a really great book.” Usually, a quiet evening at home wins. That’s what makes those girls’ nights out so special when they do happen.

This afternoon, as the tween mouth went off on a rampage, I realized one day without my glass was plenty. Cheers…. to the lessons I learn from the kids I love, the love of my life, whose always by my side, and the best friends a girl could have. None of which I could live without.