When you think about being a parent many times you begin to consider your parents and how they handled parenthood. The collective experiences from our parents and grandparents are often what we draw from when we are considering becoming parents. These experiences can be encouraging or they can also taint your view on parenting as well. Not only do these experiences influence our views on parenting but I have noticed that the age you are factors in as well in our thinking about parenting.
I was thinking about my mom and the age she had all three of her children, she was twenty-three and was done having children. Back in the late fifties when my siblings and I were born it was a common thing to have young parents. I know in today’s world there are children having children but it is not done by design as it was in the past. The majority of parents who plan having children are older in today’s world and have given it some thought. There are a surprising number of people who are deciding not to have children these days as well. I believe the older we get the more we realize the great responsibility we are taking on in raising a child. Many of us have become satisfied living on our own and do not feel the need to produce heirs. Often times this happens because of overwhelming responsibilities we have in our lives already.
Our society has changed in so many ways in regards to parenting. Another aspect to consider when waiting until you are older to have children is that more and more of what is seen in today’s economy is that we have aging parents to take care of. This is something that has been on my mind as late because my mother who is seventy-seven has recently had to have heart surgery. My children are adults, one is in their late twenties and the other is just twenty, but the youngest is still in college and at home. My mother lives with us as well, which is something I am very happy about. I love my mother dearly but it has been so hard for me in ways I never imagined. It has really given me a glimpse of my mortality in this human race.
Mom has always been a big part of my life and in every aspect of my life. She was a stay at home mom in the fifties and continued to be a stay at home mom for my entire young life. She was and is a very hard working individual who rarely gets sick. During her recent surgery it has given me a glimpse of her age, in my mind she has not actually aged up until this point. It was a frightening realization for me. She is the rock, the matriarch of our family, all the way across the board. She is not only a strong individual but a godly woman filled with the love of God and the one that leads our family and our extended family spiritually and emotionally.
When all this started to take shape I began to think of the cycle that we go through as parents. It really starts out relatively simple, even though those of you that are new parents probably would beg to differ. I remember being a new parent and there seems that nothing is more daunting than having your first child. But in the scheme of things, in all things parenting, it is the best and easiest part of being a parent. Hard to believe I know, but true. There is a stage in between baby and about ten or eleven when things seem be relatively simple in a child’s life, but not every child. When the hormones start to rage there are new challenges but hopefully if we have done our job before this happens it is still manageable. The real tough times in most parent/child relationships often happen when your child gets in their late teens and are doing their best to become independent. These times are rough because they really are not as ready as they think but neither are most parents when this time comes.
It seems like one day you wake up with a baby and the very next day they are coming into adulthood. You have probably seen that commercial, I think it is a car commercial, that the dad is handing the girl the keys but all he can see is her as a toddler and at the end of the commercial she drives away a teenager. That’s pretty much the way it is. Time goes a lot faster for us as parents than it does for the kids and what they see as an eternity of being under your supervision we see as a time span which you could blink and miss.
All the while this is taking place you had forgotten how it was with you at this age and how challenging it was for you to assert your independence. Then all of a sudden you think of your parents and it is the first time you may have realized how very difficult it was for them to let you go out on your own. It is sometimes heard as a threat from a mom or dad that you will get this all back some day when you have your own kids, but it is not a threat, it is truth.
You find yourself in your parent’s shoes at that point. And then when something happens with one of your parents and you realize, finally, that they are not going to live forever and that they have aged, you can see parenting from all the angles. It pretty much takes your breath away when it happens to you. The reality that you may not always have your parents, your kids are growing up and leaving, and that the next step in this parenting thing is grandparent or perhaps just dependent parent is a stark reality to take when you actually come face to face with it.
Maybe I am being overly thoughtful at this point because of the circumstances with my dear mother. Maybe life is just going too fast for us to see everything clearly or maybe some of you are completely aware of these cycles going on around us all the time. This is my revelation as of late, the amazing cycles of life and specifically when it comes to parenting. I hear some folks say they cannot wait for their children to be on their own, as if a huge responsibility will be off their shoulders. Perhaps financially this will be true but once you are a parent you are in it for life. You are always a parent and anything your children go through you will go through with them. No matter if they are five or fifty-five. Ask my mom and she will attest to that.
I hope I am not coming across to anyone that I wish I was not a parent or someone’s child because I love (almost) every minute I have been a parent and I dearly love my mom and my father too even though he is already in heaven. Parenting is full of amazing joy and also full of equally heartbreaking moments. Both scenarios build a bond that holds your hearts together forever and keep you close to your children and your parents. Family is what makes life worth living and I praise God for all of the people He has put into my life. I know that throughout all of eternity the cycle of parenting will continue. God created us in His image, He is our heavenly Father and we are His children and this is how He set things up. I see now that He created family because He loves us and wanted the best for us, because no matter what cycle of parenting you are in your family is there to love and encourage you every day and through every circumstance.
Jack Meyers is a regular contributor for www.nannybackgroundcheck.com. As a detective he wants to spread the knowledge of terrible things that can happen when people don’t fully verify the credentials of a caregiver or any employee. He also writes for various law enforcement blogs and sites.