Written by CocoaMamas contributor Tracy B.
The other day my oldest son asked me if it was hard being a parent. I pondered his question purposefully and I prepared a response that would hopefully help him understand how seriously his father and I take parenting and also, how carefully we chose it and consider ourselves blessed by the privilege.
I told him yes – parenting is hard, because we want to do our collective and personal best to be the best parents to him and his little brother. It is also rewarding because we get to see ourselves in their faces and actions and watch them grown and become great men.
He looked at me confused and proceeded to say that being a parent looks easy because we get to do what we want – “stay up all night and party” (his words, not mine), eat and drink whatever we want and tell him and his brother what to do – and all they can do is obey or suffer the consequences. Well, that incited a chuckle from me and again, I had to carefully choose my words.
I explained to my son that parenthood is about more than staying up late and rattling off rules because we can. And, by no means is parenthood a daily party where his father and I stay up until the wee hours watching cartoons and eating snacks as it seems he suspects jealously.
The more I tried to explain what it is we parents do and why it’s so difficult, the more I seemed to confuse my poor child and eventually myself – almost. I mean, I know what I intended to say because I know what my intentions are as his mother. I know that I wanted my son and, to a certain extent, I planned his conception. I knew his name and I felt him and his importance as he grew inside me, I prayed about his purpose and I pictured his little face. I wanted to be the best mother I could be without knowing what exactly that meant. It is a definition I am still revising daily and something I strive and aspire to moment to moment.
As our conversation ended, he asked me, “Mommy, why does it look like you have tears in your eyes?” And I just told him that I hoped that someday he could understand everything we’ve done over the years as his parents and I hope he knows how much he is wanted and loved. I told him that when we give him and his brother rules about what to eat and when to go to bed, it’s not because we don’t want them to have fun or hang out with us – it’s because they need to behave like children and eat what’s healthy and get enough rest to play and grow. And I hugged my beautiful boy and looked him in his face and told him in terms that were probably easiest for him to understand:
“We pay the cost to be the boss … and although it may look like we’re having a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work, so you enjoy being a kid for as long as you can.”