Friday, August 3, 2012

Sifting Through Life: Where is my Handbook?

Some weeks breeze by with little fan fare and others really make you sit, wonder, ponder and re-evaluate.  I had one of those weeks. 

Watching the Olympics with my oldest daughter brought a smile to my face.  She and I have become great friends and I love the time that we get to just hang out.  Together we laughed and of course, I cried.  My heart was so full of pride for all of the Olympians and their success.

Isabella had Jungle camp this week.  I was sad to see her leave each morning, but the giant smile she wore each day at 4 o'clock when we picked her up was rewarding.  She had found friends, did some crafts and could not wait to return the next day. 

Watching my kids grow each day, month and year is a rewarding experience.  We do struggle too.  We  but heads, disagree and roll our eyes at each other.

I remember the first time I held each of my kids.  They were so small.  I tried to use all of my senses to make a connection with their sweet little spirits.  I wanted to smell that new baby smell, brush their baby fine hair on my soft cheek.  I anticipated their laughter before they even made a sound. I watched them while they slept.

I felt the joy of being a Mom for the first, second and then third time.  Together, Cory and I ventured into an unknown area.  Sure we had been kids, we knew how it felt to be a kid.  We did not know how it felt to be a parent though.

Our fears, anxieties, and parenting doubts surfaced just as quickly as the joy and excitement we had experienced a short time previous .  I remember the first time my child cried and cried and everything I did would not help, nothing would ease the wailing of my precious baby, and so I cried along with them.  I felt at a loss.  I needed and wanted a handbook.  

Nobody told me it would be one of the hardest jobs on earth-- that of being a Mom, parent, advocate, cheerleader, and confidante.

I had waited 8 long years to finally hold my own baby in my arms.  I had read the books, watched the videos, taken all of the classes.  I thought I knew it all. 

Boy was I wrong.  I knew enough to make it easier but never would I know it ALL.

Just when we had one figured out, we had one more. 

The second time would be so much easier. These are the things that we told ourselves.  In a lot of ways it was easier and we were more prepared for the all-nighters or the fussy eater. In a few ways it was like starting over.  

They were the same, but then again, they were different and unique.

I remember being told several things when my kids were younger:

--enjoy them while they are small, it goes way too fast.
--you may think this stage is tough, but just wait until they’re teenagers.
--they won’t wear diapers or suck on a pacifier forever.
--take lots of pictures (I got that one down pretty good).

Fast forward 14-18 years and here we are.  Let me tell you a few things that I have learned.

It does go by fast.

I won’t lie, some of our toughest moments have been in those teenage years, but they have also been the times when both of us, parent and child, have grown the most in our relationship with each other.

To take a moment, breathe and relax was great advice that I often had to remind myself to do.  I still do.  I may think that I wear a red cape, but there are days that I don’t; and it’s okay. 

Pacifiers and diapers are some things they do out grow eventually.  When we had Isabella I knew that she would do things in her own way, at her own pace, with her own style…she was our third and we may not have had a handbook but we did have experience.

This past weekend we have had to dig into our huge bag of experience to counsel and guide one of our kids.  I really needed that invisible handbook that every parent hopes to get in the mail the week following the arrival of their tiny baby.

I needed the right answers, not just any answer.  I was guiding and instructing my kid with information that would change them, mold them and hopefully make them a better person. 

It was so much easier to hold their hand while they learned to walk, instead of watching them struggle and deal with emotional developments, self doubt and decisions that only they could make. 

I remember those feelings of trying to figure out who I was, what did I want to be, where would I live…simply how would I survive.

As we sat and talked this weekend, I heard myself saying:  Don’t be your own worst enemy.  Lighten up on who you are now and look at the potential of who you will become.  Make the choice now to fight for the individual that YOU will be proud of.  This is your life and you should make the most of it.

That elusive handbook would be so great at this very moment. What would it say if I turned to chapters 15, 16 or 17?

What would I tell my own self if I could travel back into time with the knowledge that I have now?

I would say:  Don’t ever give up, stop telling yourself your not a good person, stand tall, always tell the truth, work hard, forgive yourself, forgive others, rise above the pain, strive for excellence, complete your task, love those around you, run don’t walk, life is short, trust your gut, believe, smile, laugh, eat more and stay young at heart.

But I would also say this:

---You will make mistakes, its just part of life. Learn and grow from them.

----You will find someone that will love you, even if you feel that you won’t or don’t deserve to be loved. He will be an amazing Dad and husband.

--- People do leave, but enjoy the time you have shared with them. Some are here on earth only for a few more years.

---Life can change on a dime; embrace every moment.

---Decide now to have a positive attitude, because it will be tested. In some cases it will be the only thing you have to hold on to.

---Life is not worth living if you don’t feel it. To understand the intensity of joy, you may have to endure a few sad times. To know the release that comes with laughter, you must experience the drive of dedication. Never be afraid to live your life to the best of your abilities.

---There are no guarantees.  Every day is different and make the most of what you have.

Is this my handbook?  If so, it is not a complete book, but it is a start.  It is not nearly as large as I had hoped it would be but then again I will never stop being a parent.  My handbook will be complete when I take my last breath.

I will be able to pass on my experience to my own children to have for their kids, but I have learned there is not a one size fits all handbook to give to each new parent.  We write it as we go, we mark up the pages, we write things in bold markers, we underline what has helped, we see the tear stained pages, the pictures we have tucked away and then we start over for the next child that comes along.

I continue to grow and learn from my kids. Realizing that being a Mom has been a remarkable experience, even when some weekends, like last, you realize just how hard being a parent is.


  1. great post - it certainly captures what I think every parent goes thru (I am just hitting the "tough teen years" and I am creating my own handbook of what to say and not to say LOL

    1. The crazy thing is, when they are little you just can't imagine that they will be teenagers and then when they get there, you keep asking yourself "is this the same sweet kid"…LOL They are still sweet, just not as often. LOL I know that this too shall pass…but I am not a very patient person, or so my hubby keeps reminding me. ;)

  2. This post when I first read it made me smile and cry... As I haven't been able to carry a pregnancy to term it made me sad to see all that I have missed out... although we are hoping to adopt now that I have my citizenship so will be right there some day soon. But it also made me smile... My mother passed away at a young age and as the oldest of 8 siblings I was "mother" to them all... well maybe not all but at least the younger ones. I do remember telling people that I thought that it was easier to have to your own children then parent your siblings as your own children don't know what you did unless you tell them but your sibling do :). Great post once again.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with my Marlys. I know so well the heart ache of having a miscarriage as I have had several myself. I am so thankful that we took the steps to adopt our oldest daughter. She is a treasure to our family. I wish you the best of luck!

  3. Another beautiful post, thanks for sharing Sherron!


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