My firstborn turned ten yesterday.
It hit with a wave of emotions. A total tidal wave. The words haven’t fully come in yet but here goes. Joy, sadness, disbelief, trepidation, awe, fear, relief, hope, wonder. Feelings that have filled my whole self to the tips of my fingers down to my toes.
I have a decade under my belt as a parent. Five years anchored as a parent at home, primary point person for our children and household.
Ten years and I’m in constant learning mode.
Ten years have shown me where my blind spots are and if I’m willing to shine a light on them.
Ten years of giving it my best shot, screwing up, looking for the lesson, creating room to change.
Then beginning again. And again. And AGAIN.
I said to my sister the other day, parenting is the hardest job at the worst time.
It started at a time when I got little to no sleep, my hormones had been tossed up into the air and my body had undergone a tremendous shift.
Parenting highlighted everything. As if a HUGE mirror had been put directly in front of my face, showing me exactly who I was and wasn’t. Then, if I want to change, I had to do this work on myself while in service to a tiny human (then humans) who need me to feed, clean, care for and teach them. Added bonus, they changed as soon as I thought I knew who they were or what they liked.
Understanding who you are in moments of great pressure can be useful.
I’ve learned that in the past I’ve sucked at being in the moment. I was (and am) great at prep, anticipation and at looking back. Showing up was terrifying. Instead I chose to control everything and everyone else nearby, or do something to prove my worth.
One birthday year, I freaked out so much about the cake I made, I wouldn’t let my partner take a picture because it wasn’t quite right. Please understand that I spent twelve hours the day before the party on that cake, just creating the decorations and decorating it.
It was friggin’ fantastic.
But my daughter wanted a FONDANT Ken and Barbie and my attempts at them looked like someone took a blow torch to them five days before and they were permanently disfigured. They were completely out of proportion and truthfully bonkers looking. They sat on top of a two tier garden cake with a fairy door. I had handcrafted bugs, flowers and mushrooms for the kids to pick off and eat.
Looking back I could’ve leaned in and laughed about the toppers but I was wound way too tight for that. I had attached my worthiness to getting it right, for my daughter and more importantly for anyone else looking. I think she might have been four. She didn’t care. I was wrecked and strung out on my own stress that day. That’s my strongest memory.
This birthday we sat in the moment for three days. We held the space, and let the love in. We reached out to family and friends and asked that they highlight her in some way. A text, a video, a card, whatever they wanted. She couldn’t decide on how her cake should be so by the time we got to it, she went with piping the buttercream herself, ditched the fondant and added sweets. It was more than enough.
I’ve changed how I show up.
I’ve allowed myself to change and I looked for and got help from others along the way. I accept the idea that my children have the potential to change or be different every day. It’s easier to see growth and change in them, when they grow two inches, lose a tooth, say a new word or learn to read. I’ve learned to see it in me. In how I listen, how I fall down, how I’m brave and how I show up in the moment.
We all have opportunity to change. The question becomes do we want it more than we want to stay the same?
I look at these ten years with a sense of achievement. I accept the joy, sadness, disbelief, trepidation, awe, fear, relief, hope, wonder that they have given me. I look back in appreciation of everything I have learnt.
I am grateful for the community that has risen to walk with us as a family throughout these years. It’s an absolute honor to be a part of this tribe.
Taking this moment to take stock illuminates my path.
I get to see how far I have come. Thanks for walking with me.