Sunday, March 26, 2017

I thought this parenting thing would get easier

I thought it was supposed to get easier.
I thought the older the children grew, the easier the task of raising them would be.
I thought wrong.
When our first child was born more than two decades ago, I thought the task was insane.
The whining, crying – and that was just me; you should have seen the fuss the newborn made.
Going from no kids to one kid was a big leap. Raising the wee one becomes all consuming. You are at his every beck and call, 24 hours a day.
Feeding the little gaffer several times a day, changing his diaper every two or three days, I mean come on, how much can be expected.
I am kidding about the diaper thing, of course. As any parent knows, when Junior needs a diaper change, he needs it now and he is none too shy about vocalizing his displeasure when the garment that gathers recycled food matter becomes uncomfortable.
Eventually, the diaper days are done, then, it's potty training where you make a big deal when Junior goes poopoo on the potty.
Any self consciousness is wiped away by the time you finish dancing around the bathroom with a toddler because he made a stinky in the potty.
But with potty training comes accidents, so you never leave the house without at least one extra change of clothing because, as I learned quickly, when Junior has to go, he goes.
“Daddy, I have to go peepee,” said Junior while we were in a store one day.
“OK, son, hang on I will get you to the nearest bath....”
“Too late, Daddy. I already go.”
Cue the change of clothes.
Similar stories can be told of all my children, and I am sure every parent can relate.
I was prepared for that aspect of child rearing – sort of – before we had children. I knew once a child arrived, my life was no longer my own and I accepted and even embraced it.
I really did enjoy being a dad — maybe not the cleaning up barf from all over the floor, crib and wall at 2 a.m. — but, most of the time, it was a task I did enjoy.
It was fun to watch them reach milestones like:
  • successful potty training
  • going to school
  • going to high school, etc.
But I must admit, once they got into early adulthood, I thought my parenting stress and responsibility would reduce.
This is where the parents of adult children snicker at my naiveté.
I am learning one set of parental stress is simply traded for another.
Helping them through the early years of adult life is proving to be a bigger challenge than I thought. I used to think once you're an adult, you are on your own to forging your own path.
While they are forging their own path, that path leads through post-secondary education and that means money – lots and lots of money.
My two oldest are in university and working hard to get by. Both go to school full time and work part time, but they still need a little help once in a while.
When they are a few dollars short on rent, or tuition or books, it is often up to the Bank of Mom and Dad to help out.
So the stress of getting them out of the baby and teen years morphs into the stress of helping them through the young-adult years.
Not just the financial stress, but there is also emotional stress as they navigate life, love, loss and all that other stuff young minds encounter.
There's the stress of watching them make less-than-ideal decisions, or trying to help rein in the raging hormones of a teen girl (that is a story in itself.)
But that is just part of what parenting is all about, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Now, if you will excuse me, tuition is due for both of my oldest, so I am going on eBay to sell a kidney.
Any takers?

Copyright 2017 Darren Handschuh

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