Lessons from parenthood

May 27, 2016

We can do a lot more than we give ourselves credit for ... we've become so accustomed to avoiding things that make us uncomfortable

Parenthood is one of those things that changes everybody and for the most part, for the better. For me personally, it has definitely shaped the person I am today and in particular, highlighted the importance of three key areas in life: patience, resilience, and gratitude.

Here is what I have learnt so far:

Patience:

I’m a “go-go-go” kind of person and like things to happen when and where I want them to. So it’s no surprise that this type of mindset doesn’t bode well with little people busy discovering the world.

Learning to let go of always being on time or following a schedule is one of the first things one must accept when becoming a parent, and is a hard one to swallow when all you want to do is get out the door.

Patience is also required when you’re at the supermarket, halfway through your shopping and your toddler announces (for all to hear of course) that they need to do a BIG POO, like, right now- and right when the baby has finally managed to fall asleep.

Or when you’re hanging out the laundry, baby in tow and you kick the pegs over not once, but twice and have to try to pick up the pegs without dropping the baby or knocking them over again for the third time.

Finally, there’s the realisation that, as a mum, you’re always going to be the last one to do anything– the last one to shower, to use the toilet, eat dinner or get in the car.

You’re always going to be at the bottom of the food chain and for some strange reason, that’s the way we like it.

Resilience:

Parenthood requires both physical and mental strength. Therefore learning to build resilience is absolutely essential for those moments when you feel you can’t possibly do one more night of broken sleep or when you once again have to cook with one hand because there’s no-one else to hold the baby.

The mental resilience part I still find particularly challenging and the ability to stay sane while everything feels like it’s falling apart is something I still often struggle with.

The funny thing is—and what I’ve come to realise—is that I’m far more capable than I ever realised and that it is/was my resistance to the things I couldn’t control that was making things sometimes feel harder than they actually were.

I know many times I’ve thought “I couldn’t cope with that” or “I don’t know how that person does it”, but the fact of the matter is, we humans can do a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. We’ve just become so accustomed to avoiding things that make us uncomfortable or inconvenienced we resist anything that doesn’t make us feel good or work for us straight away.

Gratitude:

Never before have I had more reason to be grateful: my partner, Jade, our children, and I all have our health, we have jobs, we have a roof over our head, and we’re able to buy a take away coffee every day if we want to. That may not seem like a lot, but to many, it’s a life of luxury and I’m grateful each day for the life that we have.

Even during those times I get pissed off or frustrated that I have to look after my kids on my own during the week, I will later reflect and appreciate the fact that at least I have a partner who is helpful when he is around, and who adores our girls more than life itself.

Or when I’m cursing the fact that I once again have to use my left hand to eat because my right arm is holding my sleeping baby, I try to remember that there are some people out there who’s arms ache to hold their baby one last time and that quickly puts things back into perspective.

My lessons in summary:

So, while parenting includes all kinds of crazy, and you’ll never feel any more out of control, it is definitely one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences.

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Myjanne Jensen
Myjanne Jensen is the mother of two little girls; a freelance journalist who works full-time at Griffith University as the Placement Officer for the Journalism & PR Internship Program; writes for Scenestr.com.au; and, is a Community Correspondent for 612 ABC Brisbane.

Myjanne has a strong interest in a variety of different issues ranging from women’s rights, social justice, health and wellbeing, multiculturalism, human behaviour, music and the arts.

Connect with Myjanne on Facebook, Twitter or read some of her other published work on her blog.