Let me preface this post by saying that I’m writing it almost more as a reminder to myself than as just another entry in my blog…..because parenting is hard. Really hard. Parenting consciously, even more so. Parenting alone, hardest of all.  And I’m trying to do all of the above while staying sane, as I’m sure many of you are as well.

I am the main custodial parent for my children. They see their dad 2 days a week, which is fine as I like for them to have the stability of one home for most of the week.  Of course this means that when it comes to laying down the law, getting everything ready and taking care of meals, activities, homework, school drop off and pick up, sibling rivalry MMA fight break-ups and everything else in between….well, it’s pretty much just me doing it all for most of the week.  

All this while holding down several freelance jobs to make ends meet….but I’m not complaining. I’m really not. My kids are healthy and doing as well as I could’ve hoped after going through divorce and the death of their beloved grandfather almost back to back.  

I have a roof over my head and can put food on the table.  I can provide all of the basics and don’t mind using every last penny I have on them. Not to spoil them, but to make sure they have clothes and shoes that fit, and the right kind of food and supplements to keep them healthy.  

…but that’s what we do as mothers, isn’t it?  We sacrifice and give. Over and over again. Even when it feels like no one notices or appreciates it.

Which is what can make bad behavior so difficult to understand or tolerate sometimes.  Here we are giving everything down to our souls only to have the kids complain, whine, and moan that “nothing is fair”, that you’re the “uncoolest mom (or dad) ever”.  That you “just don’t understand”.  That so-and so’s parents are “way nicer”.  That “you don’t care about me”.

Petty words, really….but when you give your all to your kids, those words cut. Deep….and it’s hard not to take these word-tantrums to heart. It’s a process all kids go through, we all did….even me while living in fear of la chancla…and while I never voiced these thoughts (because of the chancletazo that was sure to ensue) I know I felt them.

…and so did all of you. Be honest.  Still doesn’t make it any easier hearing those words out of the mouths of your own babes.  But this is what wine was invented for, surely.

My kids are generally very good….my daughter is a straight-A 11 year old perfectionist.  Mini me, and mini nerd.  My son, on the other hand, is an artist with a kind heart….but he is 13. He is 13. Good god.

Nobody prepared me for parenting a teenaged boy. A 5’11” man child who knows everything about everything and is too cool for school.  It’s tough.

He lacks a consistent male role model. Someone who comes home at the end of the day and really checks in with him.  Boys need that.  He needs that…but at the end of the day, I do the best I can and I know he loves his mama.  I’ve planted every seed I possibly can to ensure he grows up to be a good man. So I trust that he will.

…but right now he is 13. He is 13.

This is why I have to write this post. To remind myself that parenting is hard, but not just for me.  It’s hard of all of us regardless of whether we are single parents, have teens or toddlers, have an amazing partner….it’s hard.

We are creating a legacy, and that takes work. A lot of it.  Selfishness and immaturity have no place in this game… least not for the parents. Raising kids takes grit, determination, discipline, and a lot of sacrifices.  

Babies are not accessories. Children are not vehicles in which we should live out our own fantasies of becoming the next top model or star athlete.  These people we create are meant to challenge the hell out of us…..and they will. Consistently.  

…and we are meant to mold them, shape them, teach them to become the best version of themselves…..even when we feel like communicating with a brick wall would be easier and far more pleasant.

Every stage and every age goes by so quickly and present you with challenges you feel are insurmountable at the moment. The sad thing is, that when we are in those moments, we don’t realize how much we have to cherish them until they are gone and we’re dealing with different and bigger problems.  One moment we are researching games for 3 year olds and the next minute we are worrying about whether they will text and drive because all of a sudden they are 16. It all happens so fast. Too fast.

Or maybe the problems are smaller or fewer….but then so are the moments you actually get to share with your children. One day they go from talking incessantly to the point where you want to go hide in a soundproof booth for an hour, and the next thing you know they just don’t really have anything to say to you anymore. They have their friends to talk to.  

They go from throwing tantrums to just rolling their eyes at you and walking away.  Which is easier?  It’s all relative, I guess.

…but yeah….parenting is hard. Every age. Every stage. Beautiful and crazy and exhausting and exhilarating and amazing and maddening. All rolled into one.  

So take a minute to stop, breathe, and listen to those kids….do it now before they leave home to start their own lives and eventually their own families.  

You may not want to hear school gossip, or complaining about how unfair life is because Sally got a bigger burrito at lunch. You may not want to hear every single last nuance about playing Fortnite…..and that’s ok. I don’t either…but just do it.

It won’t make parenting any easier…..but I think we need to stop and savor certain moments before they’re gone…..and they go so quickly.  Remember how one day you were holding your kids and the next day they were too heavy? Too big?  Couldn’t imagine it happening, did you? But it did.  

Still blows my mind….my arms feel so empty sometimes.

Of course I am writing this while I sit on my couch sandwiched by two sleeping dogs….kids are at their dad’s house. When I get them back I’ll probably lose my mind when they start arguing over who is breathing louder, and count the minutes til bedtime…..but from now on I will make more of an effort to Stop. Breathe. Listen.

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