Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Storms: A Reflection on Parenting

My daughter is at the age now where she has nightmares and assorted creatures scare her in the dark.

All of this means that I am jolted awake by the sharp rap tap tap of five-year-old knuckles on my bedroom door, usually around 2 or 3 a.m. Did I mention I have to be at work at 7:30 a.m.?

We forget this part. We parents think we just need to make it through the first few months, six months, year, two years, three. Sleep deprivation only lasts so long. Tantrums have a limited duration. They'll grow out of it and our lives will go back to normal.

But normal never comes.

You find yourself stumbling in the dark to soothe another baby five years later. Only it's the same baby and this time there's thunder and lightening instead of an empty tummy. Sometimes my eleven-year-old son wakes me up in the middle of the night too, but not as often anymore. Sometimes it's just to tell me, "I can't sleep!" Other times it's to vomit 360 degrees all over the hallway walls.

Last night, as I lay on the floor of my daughter's bedroom sleeping on an all-too-thin duvet, a child tucked uncomfortably under my arm and a cat furiously purring behind my knees, I wondered at how she would never remember any of this.

So much of parenting is without credit.

Maybe it's the most selfless form of love? You sacrifice sleep, comfort and barrels of cash for these little beings and you ask nothing in return. I mean, maybe you ask them to make their bed or empty the dishwasher, but does the really even out?

I gave you life!

I comforted you in the middle of the night!

When she's thirteen I'm sure she'll roll her eyes at me and say, "Gawd, Mother!" Or she'll shoot me a dirty look like my eleven-year-old shot me the other day when I wouldn't buy him an Xbox game that was rated M for Mature.

I snuggled that boy in the middle of the night too. When he cried out, I raced to stroke his brow and tell him everything would be okay. I do the same for her now. And neither of them will remember it. Or care. They'll just be annoyed at whatever it is I'm preventing them from doing on any given day.

And it will hurt.

Because I'm the one that comforted you. I took you from the dark and made you safe. How did I become the enemy? It's a hard thing, this parenting. We take them helpless from the womb and it's our job to protect and nurture them.

But then it's also our job to let them go.

In the end, they owe us nothing. They did not ask for life. We willingly gave it. We raised them and loved them to such a degree we think it might kill us. And then they just walk off into the good green earth and don't think much about us anymore.

They have someone else to love.

They have their own life to live.

They'll forget to call.

And it will be right. It will be good. They will function without us and we will have done our job well. 

But oh how we'll miss those nights of thunderstorms and hard floors.A little girl crooked awkwardly under your arms. A cat purring on your leg.


  1. I can so relate to this post. Enjoy your parenting journey.

  2. Oh, Mandy. This brought tears to my eyes. Brought up all my mom issues. Thanks for reminding me to give her more credit than I do.

  3. Mandy, they may not remember specifics, but they will remember feeling safe! It will show as they become the adults they are supposed to be. I see it in my two adult children who nurture the same safe atmosphere in their own children.

  4. It is almost 5 a.m. as I sit here commenting on your beautiful post while nursing my 6 month old daughter. I will miss these moments as much as I miss sleep. Namaste.

    1. Aw. Enjoy your time, even though you are sleep deprived.

  5. I remember. The stroking of my hair as they tried to lull me back to sleep. Being carried back to bed after being petrified from another night terror. Laying with my head on my Mom's lap during church service and feeling the vibrations of her voice while she sang the hymns. And posts like these will help them to remember.

  6. You are so right. And the tantrums don't end yet. Just when you think you're done with the whole toddler thing forever, they become teenagers. Teenagers are just toddlers who can poop by themselves. But job ever.

  7. These are the moments we live for. The one's we don't want to miss and you can never make up. Some things there are no do-overs. All of this makes us love them even more.

    Another beautifully written post Mandy.

  8. Your post is awesome., as I read the words I realized you daughter and son will remember
    when safety was needed, mom was there to protect every time.
    They my not remember your exact words, (not important), they will remember how they felt: safe. When they have families I'm 100% certain, they will be there to protect their children.
    We sometimes think it's a thankless job raising our children; it's not, through each day they
    make choices based on what their parents have taught them about life.
    You, Mandy are the example for all parents. Your children are fortunate to have the best mom, ever. My best to you and yours. Sincerely, Richard O.usa

  9. This is another fabulous post! They may not remember, but we will, right? I still remember about five years ago when Will was 7 and Drew 5. We were chilling on the couch watching TV. It was late. I was in the middle. They kept getting closer without realizing it. Will absent mindedly held my hand and leaned on my shoulder. Drew laid down with his head on my lap, letting me stroke his curly hair. I would have let them stay like that all night. In my heart, we are still sitting there together every day.

  10. Wow. Here it is almost Christmas and I'm reading this. I haven't seen my sons in months. Two are in Alaska and one in Hawaii. They are living their lives, just like I did when I ditched my hometown and went to parts unknown. They used to ask what I wanted for Christmas, but it's always the same intangible: I want to cook dinner for all of us, to sit around that table together one. More. Time. you teach them to walk- they run. And climb. So far. But that's ok, too. Love this blog. 💗

    1. Aw, thanks for stopping by. I hope you get to see them soon.