Until recently, I have not completely understood or fully been able to appreciate what it means to be a parent. The sacrifices, the worry, the lost sleep, the day-to-day care, the little things that I never saw because… I wasn’t the parent, I was the child.
I have a beautiful, healthy, happy 7.5 month old baby girl with my amazing husband, who sacrifices so much every day for me to have my dream job of being a stay at home Mom.
Whether the parent stays at home to care for their child/children during the day, or is gone to work to then come home and do their job as a parent; they’re amazing. Balancing life and parenthood is more of a challenge than it sounds until you are the parent, but it also comes with a love you had no idea existed; one that gets you through even the hardest of days.
I’m finding that to me, the job of a parent is…
To sit in the floor and play with their child. To narrate what they do throughout the day to make things more exciting; sing silly songs and do silly dances to keep them smiling. Say shapes and letters and colors out loud because although for us it’s second nature, it’s a whole new world of things for them to learn.
With a baby, one job has been every 2-4 hours, day and night, to nurse her until her tummy is full (which personally has given me a bond with her that I never knew I could have with a person).
A vast amount of dirty diapers are changed. Clothes, too.
We must remain patient as they fight their nap after a night of no sleep. It’s trial and error. Figuring out what will work for them today, which is seldom the same as what worked yesterday.
Determining what they need or want based on their different cries, which parents can tell the difference in.
Our job is to teach them. To let them put their fingers in their food because they are curious about it even though it’s messy. To let them explore the texture of the food package that we’re holding before we open it, even though we’re hungry because while they were eating their breakfast, we forgot to eat ours.
Postponing the dishes, laundry, and shower on the days they feel separation anxiety when they are put down. Not minding because you don’t want to put them down.
Randomly crying because yesterday they were so little and today, somehow, they aren’t. Randomly crying because of how much you love them. Sometimes crying with them because it’s been a really hard day.
But then randomly laughing because of something really funny they did earlier.
To get excited when they hit new milestones, when they learns new things. To watch their eyes light up when they find something they like.
To look them in the eye and tell them how much they are loved and how much they are wanted. How important and smart and amazing they are.
Our job is to help them up when they fall, and replace their discouragement with cheering and clapping, to fill them back up with encouragement.
To worry, constantly.
To pick them up and hug them. To smell their head. To kiss their boo-boos. To tell them often that everything is okay, that we’re right here, that we aren’t going anywhere.
Because we aren’t going anywhere.
Our job is more than just watching after someone; it is to mold another human being’s soul every day.
One of the hardest things about this job, though, is ending every single day giving everything you had, still questioning, “Did I give enough?”
I also think that’s one of the most beautiful parts of parenthood; ending each day wanting to give as much as possible, wanting to give everything, to someone other than ourselves.
It makes us more giving, more caring, more gentle.
It humbles us.
It makes us better human beings overall.
I’ve learned all of this in 7.5 months of being a Mom, with so many more beautiful and challenging adventures to come. Every day comes with it’s own handful of them.
But because of all that I’ve learned in a short time of being a parent, I’m also just now fully realizing what all it took to be a Silent Strength parent..
What all it took to be Chris’ parents.
Not only did my Grandma and Grandpa do all of these things for Chris every single day, they did more, and they did it much longer than most parents do.
On top of all that they did, they faced one of the most difficult challenges I’ve found that has come with parenting; non-verbal communication.
The difference, though, is that for us, that challenge only lasts for about a year as our children learn to say words, to help us figure out what it is they’re feeling or wanting or needing.
And while we focus heavily on the ‘strength’ part of Silent Strength, I’m starting to see a new emphasis on the ‘silent’ part of it.
It’s amazing that because he never spoke, Chris never uttered a bad or negative word or thought about another human being. Another part of that, that I’m really just able to fully appreciate, is that for 41 years, my Grandparent’s took care of him without him speaking.
They listened to him in a way that is extremely hard to do.
They listened to him without him saying anything at all.
They figured out exactly what he wanted and needed and felt, every moment of every day, for 41 years… without a single word.
And while most parents commit about 18 years to caring for their child, my Grandparent’s happily and willingly committed the rest of Chris’ life, as long as he lived and as long as they would live, to caring for him.
Having my own daughter has given me a new respect and understanding every day for what it takes to be a parent,
But it gives me an even greater respect for my Grandparent’s;
for all that it means to be a Silent Strength parent,
with such an enormous emphasis on both Silent and Strength.
Written by: Ginny Reavis Thiele