The Hardest Part About Parenting Surprised Me

I was the youngest in my family and did not grow up around any younger family members. I WAS THE BABY. And I liked it. Well, most of the time.

My husband and I were expecting our first baby right before I turned 27yrs old. Although in my late 20’s, according to my family, I was still the baby. I didn’t know anything about newborns, other than the fact that they made me uncomfortable. Although I always wanted to be a parent, but I didn’t know the first thing about parenthood. It seemed like most parents were fine and that this was just the natural way of life. I knew it would be hard, but how hard could it really be?

Turns out, it’s pretty hard. It looks different for every family, but it’s clear that every single parent faces challenges regardless of how they may appear.

In the first months of postpartum I didn’t hide the struggle, because living transparently and leaning in on community is how I operate. I find when you let down your walls and expose your raw desire for help, healing often follows as others begin to share how they went through the same hardships. I’m writing this post because it needs to be talked about. I know those walls are still up for many of you, and you need to know, you are not alone.

Parenting is indeed hard, but to my surprise, that hardest part about parenting was not labor which was what I thought it would be.

It was not the round the clock nursing every 2-3hrs day & night for 3 months. Although that was exhausting.

It was not learning about all the milestones & pediatrician visits to make sure the baby was developing on track. Although that was stressful.

It was not about sifting through the millions of parenting methods on birthing, sleep training, baby lead weaning, nursing, pumping, baby wearing, pacifier giving– and so on, each claiming to be the only correct way to have a healthy happy baby. Although that was draining.

The hardest part about parenthood is facing your flaws and insecurities as a parent.

Feeling unqualified because you cannot live up to the idea of the perfect parent you wanted to be. Failing over and over again chasing a mirage, then realizing, it was never real. Facing the reality of your limitations and not pushing yourself too hard because you’ve been comparing yourself to others- many of which you’ve only seen pictures of.

It’s fighting to stay present and “enjoy every moment” with your baby rather than dragging yourself down with anxious loathing thoughts. It is humbling yourself to the conclusion that it is not about your beautiful flawless journey being the perfect parent and having the perfect child. It is the unique and messy adventure of continually learning and growing with your beautifully flawed little one.

It’s looking at your failures and choosing to rise above them by making practical changes in your day to day behavior; such as the way you talk to your spouse, your attitude about the day, and not giving in to laziness at every chance.

The hardest part about parenthood, is growing up and taking on the responsibility. Your kids don’t need perfect models as parents to look good and seem fine, they need role models to look up to, especially when life is hard. Do you model the attitude, work ethic, faith, and relationships that you’d want your kid to have?

Choosing to be an example amidst your flaws so that they can grow up to be the best version of themselves amidst their flaws too.

And every day that you fail, not making excuses, hiding, or breaking down- but instead staying, apologizing and adjusting so it becomes less and less a part of your family’s baggage. Your child needs to see the way you model handling failures too.

The hardest part of parenthood, is facing your flaws and still being confident that YOU ARE THE BEST for them. How do I know? Because more than anyone else in the world, YOU WANT to be the best for THEM.

As parents we ALL have our failures & doubts if we’re “good parents” because we all have hard days. We also live in a world that makes money off that feeling that we are never enough.

What you need to know is that a bad parent wouldn’t have those doubts. They wouldn’t be worried or concerned. The reasons you worry is because you CARE. You cannot be the best parent in the world, but you can be the best parent for your child. If you love them, protect them, guide them, and honor them, and do your best, you ARE a good parent.

Here are 10 TIPS to continue to grow yourself and your character as a parent.

  1. If you need counseling or therapy, go for it. Your mental health is not an expense, it is an investment into you and your family’s future.
  2. Eat healthier- If you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap.
  3. Exercise 3 times a week (even for just 20min). You don’t need a gym or any equipment. Just go for a walk, have a dance party, do some jumping jacks. It does make a huge difference chemically.
  4. Prioritize your sleep over your shows.
  5. Be mindful of how you talk to your child & spouse
  6. Ask your spouse what is 1 thing that you could work on
  7. Journal, paint, shoot hoops- do what you need to creatively process.
  8. Call one of your parents or another role model to talk about it.
  9. Invest in an old or new hobby that is not baby related.
  10. Hold and hug your child and tell them how much you love them every morning and every night no matter WHAT. Do it as often as you can- but prioritize at least starting and ending the day with them knowing how much you love them.

I hope this message was both challenging and encouraging to you as a parent. It’s a fine balance continually growing our weaknesses and operating confidently in our strengths. The best way to show your child not to give up on themselves, is by not giving up on yourself.

Send this to a mom or dad that needs to hear this. Maybe it’s your spouse? Maybe it’s your own parent. Maybe it’s for that mama who was like me, struggling with a newborn and feeling unqualified. Share it freely, because we could all use the reminder every now and again.