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Parenting: The struggle is real!

I'm getting better at this thing called parenting. It has taken me a while. My kids are now 18 and 15. I wonder if by the time they get to have their own kids I'll have master being a parent.

Who am I kidding? Of course I won't! Parenting is not a walk in the park but a crazy, scary, and fun roller coaster ride.

As I sit here, flowers in hand a day early for Mother's Day (because, let's face it, Sunday flower deliveries are as rare as a calm morning with teenagers), I find myself pondering. Despite my inner doubts doing the macarena in my head, my family seems to think I'm some sort of parental superhero. Maybe I'm onto something here, or perhaps I've just become exceptionally good at winging this whole 'adulting' business.

When I got pregnant with my daughter I was so in love with the idea of being a mother, but the image I had about motherhood didn't last long. The birth date I planned was off, breastfeeding didn't work for us and she didn't sleep through the night until she was 6 months old. I learned things don't go as planned and that life has a mind of its own.

Lesson1 from the roller coaster ride of parenthood: we can try to steer, but life's GPS often takes us on detours. Many things in our life are outside our control. We can spend a lot of energy fighting those things, or we can release that need and spend our energy with things we can (and want to!) control.

Sometimes, as a parent, you can see what will happen in the future and you try to prevent it. You can bet I've had my fair share of "I saw that coming" moments, like when my son decided to introduce his face to the pavement running down ramp to great me coming up. He carried a big scrap on his nose for a couple of weeks after that.

Your fortune telling abilities work some of the time. Oher times life surprises you. When my shy daughter started kindergarten I was mentally prepared fora sob fest. All was going well when we arrived at school, but right by the entrance was a boy attached to his mom's leg crying his little heart out. My heart dropped to the ground. I was certain my daughter would take a look at that and join in. To my surprise she wasn't even bothered was we walked by them and strolled into that classroom like a boss.

Lesson two: We can prepare for the worst, but many of the worries of a parent never come to fruition. Embrace and celebrate the surprises that come your way. Life is full of them!

The time comes when the kids are older but, for some reason, you are even more exhausted. You are the secretary of the house, scheduling appointments with doctors, dentists, orthopedics, hair salon, you name it! At this point you have become a great doctor, who knows if the kid has a cold or a strep throat, tells the kids which medication to take and when, prepares the tea, cleans the ears, pulls a tooth, pulls off the splinter and treats the scraped knee. You are also the maid, not because you don't teach those kids how to tidy up, but they are constantly busy with homework or after school activities and you are the only one home to pick up the house, do laundry, and cook. Talking about activities, let's not forget you are also the MUber (Mom Uber) who picks one up from school, drops one off at guitar, dops the other one off at soccer, runs to the grocery store, picks one up from guitar, drops groceries off at home, preps the meal, drops one off at squash, picks one up from soccer, serves dinner, picks one up from squash and feels guilty because you forgot to drop the birthday gift for your sister at the post office.

If you are a working mom, you feel guilty because you are at the classroom parties nor at home helping the kids with homework. If you are a SAHM your guilt is that you don't help bring in the money for the household, and you are always in leggings looking like a mess. Working moms, stay-at-home moms—we're all playing the same game of parental Tetris, trying to fit it all in while battling the guilt monsters. We compare and we think that the other mom is the "perfect" one, when in truth, there's no such thing.

Lesson three: Not all of our thoughts are facts. Sometimes we tend to only see the negative and ignore our accomplishments as parents. Perfection doesn't exist. Cut yourself some slack, find the positives, and rock those leggings like the superhero you are.

It wasn't easy but I learned to accept that certain things wouldn't happen the way I dreamt of and that the little people I was raising had a mind of their own. My kids are selective with the friends they have and I never a house full of kids hanging around. My daughter doesn't like to o shopping and my son doesn't like roller coasters. Acceptance became my trusty sidekick as I watched my kids forge their own paths, complete with their quirks and curveballs. It wasn't easy, but it taught me that being a parent means guiding, not controlling. It's also challenging when you realize you can't always be there to protect them. It broke my heart when the coach told my son he'd not play the whole game, or when my daughter torn her ACL for a second time. We hurt with them, even if

it's a lesson they need to learn.

Lesson four: Acceptance is to allow things to happen and people to behave their own ways. It doesn't mean agreeing with it, nor giving up, but noticing their have their own thoughts and preferences. Let go of the reins and watch them soar. It's their journey, after all.

Part of being a parent is the growth we go through. We notice we end up forgetting the pain of birth and the sleepless nights in those first years but remember the tiny hand holding your finger and the first steps. Each phase of their lives is full of wonder and you are there as a guardrail, as a guide, but it's their lives to live. I miss those days and all those ages they hit, but I still love where we are at with my whole heart and wonder how I will grow moving forward.

Lesson five: Cherish the present because it's all we've got. Embrace the chaos, savor the snuggles, and be their unwavering anchor in life's stormy seas. Be there for them as you would want a parent to be there for you. By being present you are actually honoring the past and creating the future.

Now, my daughter is getting ready to go to college and my son will be driving soon after. My "little people" aren't so little any longer. All the hopes I had for them when they were young, I still carry with me, but they are already living it. During all these years I've modeled what I believe was a good parenting. I passed on the beliefs I considered important. They will hold on to some of those beliefs but will develop their own. My next lesson is to let go. Let go of the most precious things in my life, my children. I make space for this transition as they become young adults and move out of the house. (As I write this, my mind is screaming, "hold on! The youngest still has 3 years to go!) I also honor it, because if it hurts it's because it matters. Then, as always, I embrace this moment because we will never be done being a parent. As they spread their wings, I'll be here, cheering them on from the sidelines.

Lesson six: If you knew they'd find their way back to you, what adventures would you chase?

Life happens at its own pace, at its own time.

So here's to life, with all its twists and turns, its surprises and setbacks. Instead of wrestling for control, let's grab hold of the joy in the chaos, the laughter in the tears, and the love that binds it all together. After all, the struggle is real, but so is the fun! The struggle is real, and so is the fun!

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