There are lots of things to love about parenting but if you had to decide what you treasure the most, what would it be?
I love the laughs and the silliness, I adore watching my kids play happily, and I like to take them on fun adventures to new places. My heart soars as their eyes light up when I pick them up from school and childcare, and I love cuddling up on the couch with them to read stories or chat. I’ll admit, I also really like seeing my kids asleep and putting my feet up at the end of a long day – that comes with the territory of parenting young kids.
As I set out to write this, I was sure I’d refer to the one thing I love most of all about parenting, however I’m surprised to find that each of my children brings out a different aspect of me, each one just as special.
And so, as I have two children, I find myself with two things I love above all else in parenting.
When my first daughter was little and learning to roll, I used to lie on the floor next to her, look into her eyes and tell her she could do it. I did the same thing when she was trying to crawl, walk, run and climb. (I know, lots of people told me I was crazy to encourage her to get on the move, but I disagreed and just did things my way.) And now I continue to do it when she’s unsure of her abilities with new schoolwork or a piece of artwork she’s trying to create, or any other situation where her confidence is faltering a little. I simply tell her I believe in her.
The most incredible thing is that she does. She’ll give me a look of utter determination and she’ll try her best, and often succeed in what she was hoping to do. It’s the best feeling in the world – for her and for me.
I guess it’s an example of the ultimate paradox in parenting. The way your kids look up to you and believe what you tell them without question is so rewarding, and yet a terrifying weight of responsibility at the same time.
Ultimately, it’s not whether they can do the things they’re setting out to do that matters; it’s about encouraging them to try. And providing that encouragement, which in turn transforms their doubt into self-belief - this is why it's one of my favourite parts of parenting.
The comfort to let your guard down
My younger daughter is fiercely determined and, despite being so young, knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to make that heard. Behind that tough exterior, though, there are some clues that reveal her inner softie that only we, her parents, truly see. It’s the quick glance to make sure I’m there as she charges off to talk to another kid in the park; it’s the look of relief in her dark eyes as she sees one of us return after being out; and it’s in the outstretch of her little hand to hold mine as she falls asleep.
There’s something beautifully special about your child reaching out to you for comfort. As my little one wraps her arms around my neck and she lets her head relax onto my shoulder, I feel like this is exactly what being a parent is about: providing a safe space – and welcoming arms – for your kids to let all the bravado go and allow themselves to be taken care of.
The irony, of course, is that my two favourite parts of parenting almost contradict each other. But the combination of both is important to me: to know when to be the encouraging parent who helps them take on challenges, and when to be the comforter and let them know it’s okay to stop sometimes.
And perhaps that’s my favourite thing of all.
What’s your favourite thing about being a parent? Leave your comment below.