If you’re a parent then you know that raising a family can be difficult. No matter how hard you try, or how good your intentions’, making your vision of the ideal family come to life always stays just out of reach. Yet, perhaps that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be – and there’s a method to all the madness. With one child in college and the other an upperclassman in high school, I have a better vantage point of all the lessons that have been learned – and ironically, I’m finding that I was the student! Yes, I’ve done my best to teach my children well – but I can clearly see how my own life has been transformed in the process. Whether you have kids, or are just now considering starting a family, check out these ways that parenthood can affect your life in unexpected ways.
Your capacity to love increases – There really is nothing else like the love that a parent feels for a child. It is the deepest love of all. You can’t become divorced from it – and no one else could ever come along that could fill that special place your life. It’s truly unconditional, even if we as parents sometime take a stand against something and create a little space for our own sanity, we can never be separated from our child in our hearts. I remember when I was expecting my second child, telling my mother that I just couldn’t imagine loving the new baby as much as I loved my first one. She wisely said, “Oh, somehow you’ll see that your heart will expand and grow in ways that you never knew it could. There’s always room for more love.” She was exactly right. Just like The Grinch who Stole Christmas, I think my heart grew three times in size when my second child came along.
Being a parent makes you fierce and determined –The powerful love that we have for our children is also a pure love. It comes equipped with a strong protective instinct that can make even the most demure person become a fighter. Where you might give in and accept less in your own life, when it comes to the well-being of your child you’ll have no part of it. Let someone try to hurt, limit or belittle your child and God help anyone who gets in the way! Being a parent allows us to discover an inner strength and resolve that we never even knew existed.
It opens a world of possibilities – As a parent you can’t help but have dreams for your child. You imagine all the ways that they’ll use their particular strengths and attributes to the delight of the world. Of course, sometimes we go overboard in our minds and those grandiose things never happen – but if belief in another person has any power at all, then a parent’s love is the rocket fuel to help them shoot for the stars. Looking at a life from this vantage point makes us see that really nothing is impossible. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that watching my teenagers face their fears and push beyond their boundaries had made me realize how wimpy I’ve been in my own life. I’m inspired to see things in a broader, more user-friendly way now, and shake my head sadly at all the missed opportunities that I let pass me by. This wider world – full of hope and possibility is a great gift that my children have given me. I know that as long as I have another breath to draw and another day to live – my story has not yet been written. While I’m their parent, I’m also someone’s child – and I’m sure they wanted the same greatness for me. My children’s example has empowered me personally.
You learn to find acceptance – In the end, despite the strong feelings and high expectations you have for your children, you realize that you’ve created an individual who has the right to blaze their own path – whatever that may be. This is probably the hardest part of parenthood because that protective instinct never goes away – it’s still there – smoldering under the surface ready to make even an 85-year-old grab her handbag and start pummeling the person that’s threatening her child. Whether we agree with our children’s chosen paths or not, we must come to terms with the fact that we did the best job we could do –and believe, hope and pray that it will be enough to lead them to their happiest and most successful lives. Letting go is perhaps the truest form of faith in action – but its power is found in love – and I’ll place my bets on love every time.
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