If you would have asked me 6 years ago what scared me most about parenting, I would have replied, "not having enough money to provide for a child." When I was pregnant with my son, I was so sure that money would be my only challenge. Parenting would be the easy part, right?
Boy was I so off!
You can post the most adorable pictures of your child for the world to see on social media. You can have adventurous outings and create priceless memories with your little one. You can even brag to friends about all of your child’s new “firsts”. Heck, I do it all the time because I genuinely love my child more than this world as many moms and dads do.… but ANY parent can tell you that sometimes you just have your days. Parenting is not always rainbows, sunshine, and social media postings. It is not even all about just being a provider. Over the years, being a parent has humbled me.
My life changed in a flash. I went from being a high school senior with dreams of attending an out of state college one minute to an expecting teenager preparing for a little baby boy the next. The first thought that came to my mind on the day that I found out was pregnant, “how am I going to afford diapers, clothes, and milk when I have never even had a job?” - - valid point, right?
Fast forward to present day, yes finances have been a challenge along this journey but I have learned as a mom to a 6-year old boy that parenting is so much more than having money! Go figure.
There are other challenges that will arise which makes parenting one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs on this planet. I would love to tell you that I am supermom and have all the answers to parenting challenges. This is the buzzkill part - - I don’t.
Truth be told as I type, Mount Everest is forming right inside of my home (yes, regarding our backed up, never ending laundry), I’ve completely procrastinated with the idea of meal prepping for the third time (to help maximize time in my busy mommy schedule) and my son is one day away from looking like a caveman if I don’t get his haircut soon.
…but it’s okay. Why?
This blog post is to remind you moms and dads everywhere that you are not perfect. As much as we want to do it all, we are often still trying to find a “parenting routine” and that is fine! When you face bumps along the road, do not feel shame. Trust me you are not alone. In fact, three challenges I have faced as a young mom are:
Consistency is probably one of the hardest things to achieve in general. Just think about it. What happened to that New Years’ Resolution you made? We are only in the month of March and some of us are already on the struggle bus.
As a parent, I have struggled to be consistent with my child at times. For instance, I remember telling my son that I would take away his X-box if he got on a “bad color” (a coloring system he teacher uses to assess and code student behaviors) at school more than two times in one week. Well what do you know? One week, my son Santana was not being my perfect little angel child we like to believe our children are ALWAYS being. As a result, his teacher gave him three “bad colors” in one week. However, that particular week I also needed to get some work done. His X-Box has always been the perfect way to keep him occupied for at least 30 minutes. You can probably guess how this story ended. I did not stick to my guns and remain consistent with my discipline methods. Instead, I allowed him to play his X-Box knowing good and well I had banned it because I had other obligations. Needless to say weeks later Santana pushed the envelope again and got on a few more “bad colors” in one week. Had I been consistent with discipline, it is possible that Santana would have taken me seriously and straightened up his act the first time.
I get it. Consistency is tough and you will not be a rock star at it every day. As parents we are often pulled in so many directions at once that we just plain burnout of energy. However, consistency is crucial. Someone once said, “If you want to be taken seriously, be consistent.” You want your children to know that you say what you mean and mean what you say. Striving for consistency helps with that.
It is no secret. If you follow my blog then you pretty much know my backstory. I am not in a relationship with my child’s other biological parent as with many other moms and dads in the world. Dating in general can be a challenge. Sometimes it takes you 3 or 4 Mr. (or Mrs.) Wrongs to find Mr. (or Mrs.) Right.
I have ran into so many challenges as single mom trying to date. My first approach when I started dating was to, “just lay it all out there.” Yep. On the first date, I would give the whole spill IN DETAIL. “Before we get any deeper into this thing, I just want to let you know I have a son. I got pregnant in high school but I am still in college. I do not want you to think about me as a stereotype or anything even though I am a single parent. Let’s just put that out there. I really want to have a family and I kind of need someone to come into our lives that’s not scared of a package deal. If you can’t be that man for us then….” - - and I went on and on. My goal was to try to let a person know everything on the first date so they weren’t shocked when they found out I had a child. The outcome? I sent people running for the hills. It is one thing to make someone aware but it is another thing to scare them half to death on a casual date.
I soon changed my approach and went to the other extremity. In fact, I wanted to keep my mommy life and dating life as separate as possible. I got into a mindset that I would just date and if I found a man worthy enough then he could meet my son. Good idea right? Well, what ended up happening is that I did meet the love of my life. For a year, he got to know me as just a college student and did not fully grasp what all came with dating me. He did not know that I had to plan my every move as a parent. All he knew was that I was spontaneous in the moments that I was with him. When I decided to finally share my “mommy world” with him there were challenges. My son didn’t know this man that I had grown familiar with and this man had no clue about all the responsibilities that came with being a parent. Overnight, I expected him to transition into a fatherly role in which he had no experience. I expected him to understand my mommy lifestyle almost instantly when in reality I had shielded him from that side of me for so long. It was all a challenge.
Overall, if you are a dating parent then you should expect some trial and error. However, being a single parent does not mean that you are not entitled to love like everyone else. Do not be so apprehensive that you scare a potentially good mate off. Yet and still, know that you and your child have an established relationship. Bringing someone new into the dynamic may not be as easy as 1-2-3 but it can turn into something beautiful with patience, work, and compromise.
3. Identity Crisis:
You see it all the time - - the soccer mom commercials and the van-driving, baseball cap-wearing dad commercials, too. Society tends to allude to this stereotypical idea of what a mom and dad should be. As a young mom, this has been one of my biggest challenges: finding my identity.
Comparison nearly killed me. When I had my child, I was still a teenager. Inevitably, I still wanted to do fun things with friends after I gave birth. I would log on to social media and see those same friends I went to high school with going off to travel the world to celebrate graduation, accepting admissions into universities miles away, and more. I loved and still love my child, but I was envious of the lives of others for a while.
As time progressed, I went through a period of telling myself that moms are just moms and that’s it. Moms are to take care of their children. Moms are not allowed to have their own dreams any longer because that’s selfish toward your children. Moms shouldn’t get a sitter just to go out with friends from time to time. Sitters are for work purposes or emergencies only. Societal images of the perfect mom reinforced this idea. I remember seeing memes that would mom-shame mothers who went to a club on a free night. It was this idea of, “you’re abandoning your children for your own pleasure... how dare you?”
Well thank God that period was short-lived. I am still maturing into a woman. I am sure my mindset at age 35 will vary from my current mindset. However, excuse my French - - but to hell with the societal bull crap. I love my son. Day in and day out I am there caring for him, teaching him values, providing for him, and much more. If I get a free moment, then I am entitled to enjoy myself just like the rest of the world. It is not abandonment when you take care of your responsibilities.
To my parents everywhere, people are going to talk about you no matter what. People will have a set way of how they do things and that is okay. However, one way is not the only way. From the stay-at-home parents to the working parents, be you - - and parent YOUR OWN WAY, unapologetically.
Wrapping Up with SimplyMei
In a perfect world, this thing called parenting would come with a "How-To" book (and maybe even a $20,000 check after giving birth… eh, lawmakers?) The sad news is that it does not. You are left to figure out parenting as you go. It is all a learning process - -from deciding on ways to discipline your child effectively to finding creative ideas on how to get your child eat their veggies for Heaven's sake.
The good news is you get to use those challenges to find out what works for YOU as a parent... your own way and share them with me. No seriously. What has your biggest parenting challenge been? I would love to hear all about them and post a response on the site next week! Simply share your stories via firstname.lastname@example.org
But what do I know…
I’m just a blogger that writes down her opinions. Until next time with #SimplyMei…
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