I believe seasons of parenting are similar to the seasons of the year in this regard: there are certain characteristics of each season we enjoy. For example, plenty of sun and heat in the summer, beautifully colored leaves of fall and the awakening of spring. However, there are also parts we’d rather avoid, such as extra heavy clothing in winter or the humidity of summer. Parenting seasons are the same.
When our children are young, we are in awe of their reactions to new discoveries. We are overjoyed when they celebrate milestones (like walking). We could display affection and relish in their cuteness forever. Along with those, we experience the frustration of sleep deprivation, adjustments to schedules, and changes to life as we know it.
I have been blessed to experience several parenting seasons. My daughter Erica is 22 yrs old; and my son Nicolas is 16. Although they both experienced some of the same seasons—walking , talking, school, adolescence, etc—they experienced them differently. Not only were their experiences different, but my relations to them were different as well.
Erica was born 3 days shy of my 19th birthday. I was young, naive and ill-equipped. Honestly, I was so disappointed I was the mother of a girl. My navigation of life as a girl was very difficult up until that point. I was tremendously afraid that I would mess up her life because I felt I had done a poor job with my own. Instead of enjoying the early season of her life, I was distant, worried and frustrated. Erica is very strong-willed and vocal. She did not accept my demeanor quietly or passively. She asked many questions, got in my face often, and challenged me to see her. Not only look at her, but see her. In retrospect, her demand for my attention, her engaging behaviors, helped me become a better parent. The first 8 years were rough. In 1996, I developed a relationship with Christ and became part of a church that helped me begin to work through a lot of those issues. We worked through a lot, even going to counseling, I’m not ashamed to say. Today, we are very close.
When Nicolas came along at age 25, I was older, but not yet wiser. As a matter of fact, my stability emotionally, financially, spiritually and socially was probably worse off than when I was younger. I was withdrawn and depressed while carrying him. He was born Christmas Day 1994. At the time, I did not consider him to be a gift. I loved him, yes. He, like Erica, was beautiful and healthy. But as much strength in character as Erica projected in her early years, Nicolas was the opposite. He was very shy and timid, always hanging on my hip. He held my hand walking down the street until he was 9. There were days I felt like his personal spokeswoman. He didn’t talk to many people, not even my own family. My siblings sometimes joke they didn’t know what his voice sounded like…hahaha. Today, he is a flourishing athlete, well-spoken and more outgoing. To God be the glory.
While I am grateful for positive outcomes currently, I remember having to endure each season. In those early years, this seemed arduous. I’ve learned a lot, but one of the most impactful things is this: You cannot go through a season merely on how you feel. We prepare for each season yearly because we know the basic characteristics of it. We dress accordingly and prepare our homes. We plan. We must do the same with our children. You may not know everything about them…they’re still growing, learning and developing. However, prepare for what you can. Don’t only endure seasons, but enjoy them. One of the greatest things God ever did was show me the blessing that my children are to me. When I discovered the true value of parenthood, I began to invest in it.