When I was younger I do not think that anyone would have told me how much being a parent would change my life for the better! Now granted there are things that you sacrifice along the way (such as sleep for instance), but the benefits and personal growth that you go through during this period has been a remarkable ride that I have loved being on.
One of the largest things that I have learned is the idea that together we all are stronger. I came to find that I alone cannot be a parent, but that it takes two to get it done. I know there are many single parents out there, but I thank my stars everyday that I have J-Mom by my side through thick and thin working with me as a partner to make the easy and difficult decisions and knowing that we will be consistent in our decisions with our kids has been even better. I believe that as a parent that is one thing that you have to do, you have to be willing to let go of total independence and give in to collaboration (no matter how independent minded you are). Parenting is a community affair and without help you may find yourself being sucked down a vortex that seems endless!
I also have come to find that for me personally I have become a better problem solver as well as listener in my days as a parent (we’ll ask J-Mom about that one!). Whether it is fixing broken toys, answering tough questions, calming hurt feelings, or the like, being a father you have to be a problem solver, and have to be willing to be creative with your solutions. At the same time you have to be a good teacher while remaining patient (I’m still working on perfecting my patience) with your kids as they are learning along the way as well. For example yesterday, J-Mom found that our daughter had tied herself to her bedpost with the ties on her dress. Not only was this hilarious, she had to take a step back and try and help Diva-J understand and learn form the situation. I can honestly say that no one ever let us know that we might have to deal with a child tying themselves to a bedpost…but parenting is an adventure!
I also have found that I am becoming a better listener (or at least I am trying to become one). My kids always have something to say (as you might expect in a divadom), and while it would be easier to step back and give them only half my attention, I find myself more and more trying to truly listen and hear what is going through their minds. It is kind of like being a ethnographic researcher – totally immersing myself in the environment trying to get a better understanding of the local culture and thought patterns, beliefs, values, etc. I can say that I am not always the best at this, but I am working on it and think that I am getting better day by day.
I have come to learn that little things really count when it comes to being a parent. It is the hugs that one can give when bumps and bruises happen both emotionally and physically. It is the recognizing the efforts that our kids make in making their first soccer goal, riding their bike for the first time without training wheels, finding new friends, losing friends. You become bigger than yourself and at times this becomes a bit daunting, but no one ever told me that being a parent was easy in any sense.
Overall, I have come to find that I am a stronger man and person with all of my family around me. Before having children, I would not have known what this means, but now I can say that even when I am at my lowest and feel that I am not being the parent that I want to be, I can look into the faces of my family and know that things will be alright and that together we will make it through.
This is my Back-to-School story entry for the Building Camelot HP Back-to School Better Together Giveaway, in which I hope to win a couple of laptops and some software. I learned about the contest from Building Camelot, who has posted a list of the scheduled laptop giveaways here.
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