Almost everyone can become a mother or a father. However, becoming a parent is something completely different. Being a parent is not befriending your children. A parent is someone that draws the line of consistent and fair discipline. Being a parent means loving unconditionally. Being a parent, is a 24 hour a day, 365 day a year job for which one can not vacation from. Being a parent is an experience in life like no other.
At the age of 22, whether I was ready or not, I was catapulted into parenthood with the birth of my first son. The realization of being ultimately responsible for the well being of another was the first of many life-changing moments. No words can really describe the immense feeling of responsibility that overwhelms a new parent. Extended family members were often supportive, but in the end the responsibility of raising my son was terrifying.
As my family has grown to include two sons and two daughters many things have changed. Such things as my “man” car were traded in for a minivan, accommodating family growth. My “man toys” became void, and replaced with toys for my children. My small two bedroom apartment changed into the decision for a mortgage. My things became their things. My life became their life.
After the birth of my children, and as they have grown over the years, another life changing moment for me was the realization that my parents were not the evil doers I believed them to be during my adolescent years. Having children of my own, no doubt has brought about similar stressors that my parents were sure to have endured. Thus, bringing a better understanding for me personally, of why my parents acted and responded in the manner they did.
Personally, the loss of that which I perceived to be my personal freedom was the biggest and most painful part of becoming a parent. It is one that I still struggle. Pre-parenthood I was never the type of person that “socialized” at every possible occasion; however, before becoming a parent if I chose to go to a movie or to a party I could decide to do so with little regard to anyone else. Just being able to be alone, or for that matter, simply being able to be selfish. Being the parent I have chosen to be, selfishness is not a dominating factor in my relationship with my children.
Above all else, becoming a parent taught me to love unconditionally. This lesson, loving unconditionally is probably the hardest lesson I have ever learned. Becoming a parent was learning to reprioritize my life in an effort to do what is best for my children. Becoming a parent is an experience like no other, most of the time it is not one that I would not change.