parenting

A Love Letter to Scared Parents

Hey there-

I see you. I see you laying awake at night running through scenarios in your head, preparing yourself for all possible catastrophes.

I see you.

Maybe you’re on the cusp of a transition- from zero to one kid or from one to 2+ kids. Maybe your parenting situation isn’t what you hoped it would be. Maybe your kid just received a diagnosis that makes you want to hide under the covers. Maybe your kid has started exhibiting behaviors that you have no clue how to handle. Maybe none of those things are happening and you’re just scared because parenting is scary.

I see you.

I wrote some iteration of this letter in an email to a friend a few weeks ago. I thought, “What advice or encouragement could I offer her?”

Alex and I adopted our kids and we thought we were ready to parent. We read all the books and blogs. We completed our bajillion hours of training to get licensed. We talked ad nauseam about what-if scenarios. We thought we knew what to expect.

We didn’t.

Parenting has been really hard, but it’s also taught me something really important. I’m much more resilient than I ever thought I was.

I have done things that probably would have scared the shit out of me a few years ago if you had told me that I would be doing them now. I’m talking about adopting a preemie baby with Down Syndrome while he’s still in the NICU. I’m talking about at least four hospital stays and having to make medical decisions for this little human with limited information. I’m talking about juggling therapy needs with regular doctor visits as well as constantly following up with no less than 6 specialists.  I’m talking about weathering behavioral difficulties at a school that doesn’t want to deal with behavioral difficulties. I’m talking about trying to learn how to do open adoption well, on the fly, with no one guiding us. I’m talking about sitting across the desk from a high-up administrator in our school district and weeping. I’m talking about standing across a hospital bed from a busy doctor and weeping.  I’m talking about sitting outside a slammed door with my head in my hands thinking, “What am I doing? Am I even capable of this?”

I know, I know! You’re like, “Good encouragement, Beth. Wanna kick me in the face now too?”

Here’s the good news, friends. I’m not dead yet. I have weathered each and every one of those storms (rarely gracefully or patiently) and every time the dust settles, I’m left feeling a little wiser, a little more flexible, a little stronger.

That has been my greatest gift from parenting- the gift of knowing that I have balls of steel. Without these two boys, I never would have known precisely how strong I was. Without them, I would have proceeded through life thinking that I was a shrinking violet, incapable of dealing with adversity.

I know that you probably have a bajillion feelings about the journey that you’re on, but my prayer is that you would know that you have balls of steel too. I already know this about you. You already possess within you the strength to withstand whatever challenges lie ahead of you.

I don’t mean that you’ll feel this way all the time or maybe even most of the time. You’ll have awesome days where you feel like a superhero and then really really shitty days where you feel like you’re drowning, but I promise you that you can do this.

These little humans that have been entrusted to you are gifts. Sometimes they are gifts that test the outer limits of your capacity for patience or sleeplessness, but gifts nonetheless.

I see you.

And I see your balls of steel.

Here’s hoping you see them too.

-B

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