Why parenting is a paradox

Kinderling News & Features

Photo credit: Daniel Guerra

It’s Sunday night and the children are in bed.

The house is quiet, blissfully quiet, and I’m sitting in my room letting it wash over me.

My room - the one place in our home I insist at the end of the day is clean and free of child detritus - is bathed in the soft light of my bedside lamp. It feels like a lovely warm little cocoon.

Unfortunately, being Sunday night, the enormity of the week ahead is battling with the peace of the evening.

I have a million thoughts swirling around in my head. My diary is a mess of times and instructions (Daniel drop off, Shev pick up, interview at 10am, swimming classes etc etc). While I have everything organised and planned, it feels like the touch of a butterfly’s wing could send it all spiraling into chaos.

I try to breathe through it, try to pick myself off the bed to do tomorrow’s lunches, and I think to myself… this is all a little crazy. Can I make it all work again?

And then in walks my little man, not quite three. He’s rubbing his eyes from the brightness of my bedside lamp. He has the round cheeks and pouty lips only a toddler can possess. His white blonde hair that is yet to be cut is a soft mess around his face. And he’s coming in to find me, because he’s woken up and he’s scared, and he needs someone he loves to hold and comfort him.

And that - for me - is the paradox of parenting. What can feel like the most difficult thing in the world to do, the most thankless, the most self-sacrificing, is also something that can fill your heart from the simple curve of your child’s cheek, to their sleepy hands reaching for you to hold them.

The day-to-day needs of children can pull at the threads of my being and threaten to unravel me. They need feeding, dressing, and emotional support and understanding. The latter two being the most challenging of all. Maintaining patience and calm in the face of multiple tantrums and sibling squabbles is something that I have to practice daily. At the end of a long day, it’s hard to keep the perspective when they lose their shizzle because you brushed their brother’s hair first.

And yet, when I read to them in bed, and they’re laughing and snuggling in to me, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

The paradox of parenting is a daily experience. I wake in the morning feeling bone-tired because my daughter has woken me in the night again, but she’s the one waking me up, fresh as a daisy chattering like she’s been awake for hours.

“I love my family, I love every person in the whole world, I love all the houses, even when they’re dirty and I love the universe and all the planets,” she tells me. How can you argue with that?

Before I had children, I could never have imagined how much of my life they would consume. And yet, I can’t imagine my life without them.

After all the dressing, feeding, constant negotiation, the picks-ups, the drop-offs, feeling exhausted, feeling completely overwhelmed, just when that wave is about to crash over me, in walks a tiny human and it’s like he’s holding my heart in his hand.

And I pick him up, and he rests his head on my shoulder, and I take him back to bed.

For now, the lunches can wait. I will watch him fall asleep, and marvel that I helped create such a perfect little being, and then I will make the lunches, pack the bags, and get ready for another day.

ALSO SEE:

:: Clementine Ford on raising kids in a sexist world
:: Four simple steps to recharge your relationship
:: Can scheduled romance make love real again?