There is no justice when it comes to having children. Frankly, there are days when it seems like you might have gotten someone else’s kids.
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Our oldest is laid back and easygoing. As his mother, I know he wasn’t always this way and I have the crow’s feet to prove it. His wife genuinely is laid back, soft-spoken and reserved.
They were blessed with children who, if unsupervised, would and could walk on the ceiling. Naturally, they’d paint the bottoms of their feet first.
The couple you might expect to have cooing doves somehow wound up with braying donkeys. Completely adorable and lovable donkeys, mind you, but children with an energy level and focused determination usually exhibited only by superheroes.
No two kids are ever alike.
At age 3, our youngest arrived for a family visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s one weekend, flung open the door to the mini-van upon arrival and yelled, “Don’t anybody try and kiss me!”
When she was about 9 and had stirred things up before school, I asked her if she woke up every morning wondering what she could do to cause trouble.
She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Yes.”
Guess who got the most easygoing, pleasant, smiley, good-natured, happy baby in the world?
Our three kids look at one another’s kids and marvel at the inequities of the gene pool. It’s almost like their children’s personalities were switched at birth.
Jerry Springer, line one.
I’ve seen it in other families, too. The wild thing grows up, marries and gets the demure children, while the demure sibling weds and has children that have to be dragged out of public places by the backs of their necks.
A young woman raised in a family of all girls has all boys, and a young father raised with brothers, football, baseball and basketball has ballerinas.
If only parenting required nothing more than navigating familiar waters. But it rarely does. Planning and anticipating are essential to good parenting, but the truth is, you can never fully imagine the future. Sometimes you simply live it when you get there.
You may wind up with a child who is nothing like the child you were for a reason—so that your mind can stretch, your brain will grow and your feet will learn to sprint.
Parenting is not about recreating a smaller version of you; it’s about discovering someone entirely new. It’s exploring how the pieces fit, who that boy was meant to be, what her talents and gifts are, what comes naturally and what needs a push.
Parenting is often learn-as-you-go. It is a lifelong endeavor punctuated with intense joy, sleepless nights and profound humbling—the humbling part is what keeps us all from becoming experts.
Parenting is the most challenging and worthwhile job you’ll ever have. Now go scrape those kids off the ceiling.