MOST of us, the moment we confirmed our pregnancies, sought to arm ourselves with all the information we believed would aptly prepare us for parenthood — from scouring websites and asking friends with children endless questions, to soaking up hours of pearls of wisdom and even unwanted advice from our parents.
But, unfortunately, parenting, much like life, dishes out all kinds of surprises on the regular and so no matter how prepared you think you are, you just have to be ready to cope with whatever is your reality. These are the experiences of parents who, having completed all the prerequisite “training” for parenting, found that there was more to the job than anyone had told them.
Stacy-Ann, 36, business owner, mother of one:
I wish I had received some amount of caution on withholding freedom. What I should have aimed for is a structured kind of freedom; instead I policed the entire 24 hours of my child's day everyday because I was fearful of the unknown — peer pressure, that she would be kidnapped, and that she wouldn't do as well if I wasn't in charge of her academic affairs. Instead of holding her hand, supporting the dreams she had for herself, and being the best cheerleader I could be, I pretty much triggered my child's inner rebel and now that I look back it is painful to think that I caused my child so much anguish. Even though she doesn't say it like that, I know it could have hurt our relationship significantly if my child was different.
Jahmar, 39, contractor, father of four:
I wish someone had nudged me and reminded me that my kids cared more about the time I spent with them than how much money I could accumulate. I wanted them to have the latest everything, to have lavish parties, until I saw how my kids just became self-centred, anti-social, how they barely showed empathy, and immediately I saw the damage I had done. I am trying to undo it but honestly, it will take some time.
Marshalee, 36, masseuse, mother of three:
I always tried to be like a certain couple because everybody talked about their parenting. I became obsessed with trying to do everything like they would. However, the results were not quite the same and I got fed up. I was wondering why I even bothered to carry all three children into the world when I just couldn't get anything right. Then I just stopped obsessing and focused on learning about each of my children and working to create plans that suited them individually. Then it struck me that their parenting style would have never worked for me because the family dynamics are different, all children are different, and I wasn't a failure — my approach was just wrong.
Tanya, 41, registered nurse, mother of two:
I wish I didn't get so caught up with everything people would think or say that I rated myself so harshly. I kept judging myself, you know — even small mistakes I made. But as humans, we err all the time. So mommies, definitely don't be so hard on yourselves. Oh, and take care of yourself. We often forget to do that and the truth is, our babies want to see us well and happy, and we can better serve them when we are in the best health. Parenting does require a lot, it can be draining, but if you keep replenishing yourself you will be just fine.
Maud, 51, educator, mother of three: I wish I had known that not because I brought up my children a certain way it would mean they would stay the course. Remember this, children, can surprise you and some of them will. So just do your best to help them be the best version of themselves — support them, love them, and teach them the values and lessons you want them to exhibit. They may surpass your expectations and some may choose an entirely different path. It will break your heart, but the truth is that the lessons you taught them will lead them back. If you have the strength and if you are like me, then remember no matter how old they get they will still be your babies and you just have to be there for them whenever they need you.
Rasheda, 25, student, mother of one:
I wish someone had told me it's not all rainbows and butterflies. I love my daughter and I don't for a second regret having her, but parenting brought with it a whole different lifestyle. My life did a 180-degree turn and I am still trying to recover because I'm still a little dizzy. Parenting taught me the true definition of sacrifice, and I am not talking about money — I am talking about self, mental health, emotions. There are days when you will feel like you are failing even when you are doing everything right. Other days things will get messy, you will feel like you can't get a handle on anything, but even that is okay. Just look forward to the day when your little ones will be able to say, “momma can I have kisses?” or “momma, I love you”, because I can guarantee it will melt your heart and put all the troubles of the world on pause.
Allia, shopkeeper, 34, mother of two:
That you will not always love your children — not to say it's a long phase or anything, it may just be for a moment. They will do things that will piss you off and you won't always want to be around them.