While we anxiously wait for certain milestones to arrive so we can fully “enjoy” parenting, all the parenting years should be looked at as a journey. You never “arrive.”
My one and only sister had her first baby a little over two months ago. Despite the fact that she is the opposite of me in about every way, she is following Babywise. She has watched me raise my children over the last five years and loves what Babywise produces. She is doing a fabulous job of it!
She called me last week stressed out. We all can relate, I am sure. She was feeling like she was failing somewhere. Her little 8 week old girl was sleeping at least 8 hour stretches, going down for most naps without a fuss, and sleeping perfectly for her first two naps each day.
Here is the problem. She was having a rough go with the last two naps, and especially having a rough time in the evening. She has witching hour.
My sweet sister was truly worried she was doing something terribly wrong since her baby wasn’t 100% perfect. I guess it isn’t just type A personalities that get this way; it is a mom thing :).
I gave her a pep talk. I told her that her daughter was doing awesome. Overall, things were going very, very well. I reminded her that she is only 8 weeks old. I also told her that for her first baby, she was doing very well. And much to my sister’s credit, her daughter was not born as one of those easy angel babies you can’t go wrong with. She worked hard to get where she is. They both did. This baby is also in the 90% for weight and 97% for height. She is doing so well.
As I rambled on with my pep talk, I came to the key phrase: “Remember, it’s a journey, not a destination.” This was it. The perfect line. It totally clicked for her. She loved the phrase.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that raising children is not about accomplishing some goal and then we are done. Yes, we have our overarching main global goal that our children grow up to be happy, serviceable, kind adults who contribute well to society. But that takes at least 18 years to achieve.
It’s a journey. Not a destination.
Parenting is a Long-Term Job
I mean we need to enjoy each day for what it is. There will always be things to improve on and fix. There will always be things that aren’t perfect. You will never achieve perfection with your children (for more than a couple of hours anyway). You will always have something you are working on. It might be sleep related, food related, or behavior related, but there will always be something.
It’s a journey. Not a destination.
I mean you can’t spend your life saying, “As soon as my baby can sit up, life is going to be perfect.” “Once my baby is two, I will be much happier.” Sure, some ages are easier for some than others. But life will not be roses once you meet some milestone you have marked in your head. There will always be challenges you are facing. If you spend your life wishing away your todays, you will find you regret your yesterdays.
It is a journey. Not a destination.
There will be challenges along your journey. There will be sweet joys along your journey. You will set and meet goals along your journey. You will have hard days that make you want to cry and you will have great days you wish you could freeze in time. All the while, it is a journey, not a destination. You will always be moving forward. You will never be at any point long enough to dig and pour a foundation. Putting up a tent might be too much work for the amount of time you will spend in one location. You won’t just work for a couple of years and then sit back and sip lemonade for a while (maybe that is what grandparent years are for? I don’t know yet 🙂 ). So long as you are raising your children, parenthood is a journey, not a destination.
So stop and smell the roses. Enjoy what you see around you. But don’t get too comfortable 🙂 And don’t get too uncomfortable. You will soon be moving on, whether you are ready to or not.
Parenthood is a journey, not a destination.