The Miracle of Parenthood

 

Today is my daughter’s sixth birthday. Usually, when admiring my kids, I tend to reflect on the miracle of pregnancy and birth — how someone so intricate and tall grew from a fertilized egg inside me. The toes, the fingers, the little naked bums navigating the staircase — how did that little personality come from inside me?

Except today, I find myself ruminating on the miracle that my kids may grow to passably decent adults. Parenthood is hard. It requires 90% of you about 100% of the time (unless you are sleeping). I’d say 100%, but I know I don’t give 100% – hence the miracle.

When I find myself wondering about how it is I can be an adult when I still don’t see myself much more than a 13-year-old inside, I look around and see a somewhat clean house, with a full refrigerator, clean dishes, clean laundry … and happy and healthy kids. I don’t know how I got here. A little muddled. I know most parents have a similar experience. Parenthood is kind of a fog where you know the basic idea but how to execute it is a free-for-all. Make sure you feed them, exercise some basic cleanliness to maintain health, and make sure they don’t get away with being horrible human beings and you got it made, right? But execution is not so easy, especially with no break in sight. Even the parents that appear to have it all together with twice as many kids as you probably run from one seemingly minor goal to the next in a cloud of half-aware confusion.

There is an entire industry on child-rearing to guide confused and frustrated and clueless parents through the seemingly dark passages of parenthood. I’ve read a grand total of four chapters in the last 9 12 years. So many mistakes and failures, but these kids are so wonderful and great! It really is a miracle! It really shows that when you put in the effort, you can be rewarded in spite of the failures and mistakes. Parents don’t need to be perfect. There is a miracle in bringing life into the world, but there is also a miracle of grace at work in bringing that new life to maturity so they can experience their own miracles.

(I wrote this on my daughter’s sixth birthday and never published it.)

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Tell you kids you love them.

    Show them with your attention and presence.

    Do the best you can.

    That is about all we can do. 

    Good job.

    • #1
  2. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    @cm

    If your kids grow up like you, that would be awesome, since you are an awesome gal. 

    • #2
  3. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    My mother trusted Dr. Spock, that quack.  The very fact somebody writes a parenting book should disqualify them.

    Mothers can do some mystical stuff without any lessons and yet seem to question themselves.  I never got that.  Our fifth kid was an incredibly colicky and unhappy baby.  My sainted wife the supermom wondered what she was doing wrong.  The dad thing was mainly to preserve perspective and sanity:  The doc says he is OK and that he (and we) will get past this.  Let me hold the little monster for a while. Go sleep. 

    That kid is now a very mellow adult with a wry sense of humor.  

    Parenting is showing up, realizing your only superpowers are love and endurance, understanding how little control you have over events and kids, knowing that your little people are born with distinct natures and personalities of their own, and with all that in mind,  try hard to make sure you and your partner enjoy the ride.  End of first chapter and end of the book. Go ahead and steal it.

    • #3
  4. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I frequently remind myself that I’m not raising children, I’m raising adults.

    Be very afraid, world!

    • #4
  5. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    I can relate to this.  Sometimes it’s just very mundane things that strike me funny.  My son, for example, just going into 6th grade and he signed up for band.  I asked him what instrument he wanted to play and he said “saxophone.”  At first I didn’t think anything of it, but then I thought, “Why did he choose a saxophone?  How does he even know what a saxophone is?  How does he know what sound it makes?  He listens to music, of course, but none that prominently features a saxophone.  I know neither me nor my wife ever mentioned a saxophone to him for any reason.” I asked him if he remembered learning about saxophones, but he couldn’t remember not knowing what a saxophone was.  How did he come to know about saxophones?  Nobody can answer that question.

    I mean, I don’t remember how I learned what a saxophone was either – what it looked like and what it sounds like.  I assume I learned it from watching the house bands on shows like Johnny Carson or Saturday Night live (My parents let me stay up pretty late in the summer and on weekends).  But he’s never watched shows like that.  Like so many other things we “just know,” I guess it came from somewhere in that great cultural ether that we all live in and soak up to one extent or another.

    The saxophone thing is just one little example.  When you add up all that knowledge that seems to have no particular source, our ability to learn does seem like a miracle. 

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Stina: When I find myself wondering about how it is I can be an adult when I still don’t see myself much more than a 13-year-old inside, I look around and see a somewhat clean house, with a full refrigerator, clean dishes, clean laundry … and happy and healthy kids.

    Hey, I’m with you there.  Sometimes I’ll lie awake at night and think, “Damn, I really am an adult.”

    Inside, I’m going to be a randy, rambunctious, know-it-all teenager for the rest of my life.

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Stad (View Comment):

    Stina: When I find myself wondering about how it is I can be an adult when I still don’t see myself much more than a 13-year-old inside, I look around and see a somewhat clean house, with a full refrigerator, clean dishes, clean laundry … and happy and healthy kids.

    Hey, I’m with you there. Sometimes I’ll lie awake at night and think, “Damn, I really am an adult.”

    Inside, I’m going to be a randy, rambunctious, know-it-all teenager for the rest of my life.

    I always kinda thought the adulting meme was just putting a word to a phenomenon most of us can relate to. That the amorphous state of being an adult somehow feels foreign and natural all at the same time. How did I come to be here and how am I succeeding even a tiny bit???

    Parenting and adulting have a lot in common…

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Stina (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Stina: When I find myself wondering about how it is I can be an adult when I still don’t see myself much more than a 13-year-old inside, I look around and see a somewhat clean house, with a full refrigerator, clean dishes, clean laundry … and happy and healthy kids.

    Hey, I’m with you there. Sometimes I’ll lie awake at night and think, “Damn, I really am an adult.”

    Inside, I’m going to be a randy, rambunctious, know-it-all teenager for the rest of my life.

    I always kinda thought the adulting meme was just putting a word to a phenomenon most of us can relate to. That the amorphous state of being an adult somehow feels foreign and natural all at the same time. How did I come to be here and how am I succeeding even a tiny bit???

    Parenting and adulting have a lot in common…

    Parenting certainly brings the onset of adulting a lot quicker . . .

    • #8
  9. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    What a wonderful post. I have had a similar reflection when I think over how my twelve year old son is maturing. Despite my complete ignorance of child rearing, he’s a pretty good kid. Of course he hasn’t hit his teen years yet. God bless your family Stina. 

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Manny (View Comment):
    Of course he hasn’t hit his teen years yet.

    Stand by . . .

    • #10