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The Gift of Being a Parent

They are such precious gifts!

I recently posted on the 10 things I don’t do as a mama of a toddler and was a bit surprised at the number of comments this topic drew. Obviously, there are many people out there, myself included, who often feel overwhelmed, or feel like we miss the mark when it comes to being the parent of a toddler. But, like everything else in life that is worth it, being a parent is about so much more than performance. It is about so much more than measuring up to any perceived, or seemingly real, expectations. Being a mom is not, nor should it ever be, about keeping up with the Joneses.

Being a mom, for me, is the best gift I have ever been given. And its inherent nature as a gift requires that it is not something I was prepared for. None of us are prepared for tantrums, or sleepless nights, or potty training, or play dates. None of us are prepared for being parents. And because of that, no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you study or prepare or how many books, or blog posts, you read, it doesn’t usually work out the way you thought it would, or could, or should.

It’s messy being a parent.  But there is nothing more important or rewarding than loving a child, and trying your best to care for, and cherish, them every single day.

With Christmas approaching, I am reminded of all the times as a kid when I woke up on Christmas day so excited to open presents and see what I would get. And looking back on the birth of both of my kids, I remember an even bigger excitement that built up over those 9 months. I am reminded of the plans I had and the things I studied. And like a little kid on Christmas who gets something they don’t expect and don’t deserve, I am overwhelmed each day with the extraordinarily wonderful responsibility this gift of being a parent is to me.

As a mom I may feel like I fall short at times and miss out on doing things I always thought I would do, things that I always expected I would do. But when I stop and reflect on the steps we have taken as a family I am also so grateful for the lessons we have learned and the memories we have shared.

I am so grateful for the times where we have laughed, and played, and done stupid, random things. I am grateful for the lessons we have taught our kids, and the extraordinary way that they translate our love and support into their amazing little personalities that are changing, and growing, and taking on the world.

So this day, as you go and fight the powerful urge to be more and do more for your kids, take a minute to give yourself a break. Take a minute to think of your favorite memories of the last few weeks, and the unexpected moments that you have buried in your heart of these little ones you are responsible for.

They don’t care about the ways you have fallen short in your expectations. They don’t care about the things you’ve read that have made you feel worse, or better, as a mom. All they want is you. All they need is a mom or dad who loves them unconditionally and is present. And maybe just being present is the best present that we can give our kids, and the best way to step outside of the box we so often put ourselves in as parents.

Give yourself a break today. You need it. Your kids need it. And ultimately the rest of us need it too. You are a world changer mom or dad. You have the ability to impact little lives that will impact this world. That might be an overwhelming thing at times, but it is also a giant gift.  Let’s live like we just opened the best present in the world, better than any gift we have ever been given, because that is exactly what has happened.

How has becoming a parent changed you? Do you view being a parent as a gift – both that you’ve received in your child, and that you can give to your child?

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