What is parenting?

Cambridge Dictionary defines parenting as "the raising of children and all the responsibilities and activities that are involved in it."

It sounds easy doesn't it?
Ah if only.

Parenting is a learning experience.
Parenting is a challenge.
Parenting is exhausting
Parenting is exhilarating
Parenting is the most difficult and the most fulfilling job you could ever have.

The definition doesn't make any mention of the fact that you will change, you will become a new person. Throughout your parenting journey you will go through changes you didn't realise were coming.

Baby days

As a novice parent you'll learn how to take care of a tiny baby. You'll change nappies, you'll feed the little bundle of joy (whether breast or bottle), and for the first time in your life you will be overcome with love. You will never feel love like you do when you look into the eyes of your little one and they smile at you.

Leaving your baby with a babysitter for the first time breaks your heart and you cannot enjoy your night out because you spend the entire time wondering if the baby is okay. When baby cries you feel like your heart is breaking. Your days are filled with baby talk and gurgles, but you love it.

Toddler Time

You watch in awe as your toddler takes their first steps, play with their favourite toys, and begin to explore the world. You cope with "terrible twos" tantrums, you fight with flailing legs at nappy-change time, and you have to resort to the use of the naughty step. 

By now you've forgotten the you you were before baby was born, you're a mum. Your days are consumed with food "mishaps", crafty mess, and CBeebies. You don't remember the music you used to enjoy and you don't see your old friends. 

Your little one entertains you with their dancing and your heart warms when they ask you to join in.

School Time

Making the transition to a parent of school-aged children is a big step. You suddenly have to let go of your little one and watch them take their first tentative steps to independence. From 8:30am every week day you make your way to school and watch your little one scamper into school greeted by lots of little smiling faces. They're making friends and socialising.

While at home you tidy the house and wonder what your little one is doing. You begin to think about yourself again, perhaps you could find something just for you.

Teenagers (!)

For years you have watched your little one make new friends and learn who they are. You were there to pick them up when they fell, you smiled as you froze standing at the sidelines of their games during the winter, and you helped them with homework you barely understood yourself. But now you spend the days faced with a frown. Their eyes roll as you try to be cool (or whatever the word they're using for "cool"). You could not be less cool if you tried.

Yet you get glimpses of the young adult your child is becoming. They're polite and considerate, their smile is infectious, and they entertain friends. On those rare occasions you get to see the wonderful person they've become you're filled with pride.

Young Adults

Okay so now things get scary! 

Your little one (or not-so-little-one) is out there trying to be their own person. Whether it's continuing their education or getting themselves a job your child is almost never home. You have to get used to them being off on their own doing their own thing. With no input from you they are living their own lives. 

When they come home to visit you see the wonderful person they've turned into, even if they do bring their laundry home!

The "raising of children" is a complicated business, it is not just taking on the responsibilities and activities involved in it, it is a lifelong choice. When you decide to become a parent you have no idea what you are letting yourself in for but you will be changed forever. 

Parenting is a learning experience.
Parenting is a challenge.
Parenting is exhausting
Parenting is exhilarating
Parenting is the most difficult and the most fulfilling job you could ever have.

How would you define parenting?