Archive | January, 2012

Discovering the Joy in Parenting

11 Jan

Disheveled comes to mind when I think of parenting. Hence my blog title. It’s not the tidiest gig in the world and it certainly can be humiliating to some extent. There is no paycheck involved and, most of the time, no praise. Parenting can be lonely. Boring. Monotenous. And just plain tiring.

After giving birth to my first child, my daughter Veronica, I (like many a first-time mothers) had no idea what I was doing. You’d think that because I grew up around little ones that it would be a cinch to take care of my own. But that wasn’t the case. This time this baby is for keeps…and I have to wrap my entire life around her. I must admit that, although I was willing to protect this little one with my life, I had a lack of happiness. It wasn’t baby blues, per se…but just the feeling of being lost and lonely. I was lost and lonely, though. My life changed in an instant, it felt. A year before that I was only planning my wedding. I was still living at my parents’ and was surrounded by all that was familiar and warm to me.  Before you know it I was married, then pregnant, and after pregnancy we moved into my husband’s parents’ downstairs space. Different city, new faces. And now a tiny, fragile one to take care of. Not to mention my struggling to be a good parent and my struggle with post-baby weight loss.

Above that I wanted more than anything to prove to everyone I was a good parent.

I realize now, however, that I spent too much time focusing on myself and worrying about myself. It was all about me. It hit me that the more I forget about myself and focus more on my children the happier I am. God wants us to give ourselves up for Him. And this is by serving others. In this case, I am serving my children by raising them with love.

When you look at gnarled, wrinkled hands you may be revolted. But consider how much work came out of those hands and that they were all works of love. The hands, in turn, are actually quite beautiful.

I will admit, I have stretch marks all over my belly. They have nicknames. Roadmap and tiger stripes. I love my stretch marks. You may think I’m crazy but they are a lasting reminder to me of my past pregnancies, that I carried my children lovingly and eventually suffered child birth to bring each child into the world. Just like the gnarled hands I find my pregnancy marks to be beautiful.

God didn’t choose people to be parents to make them miserable. It is only when we submit ourselves to our task do we find the joys of being a parent. When we accept the task, forget about ourselves for a bit and take on this wonderful vocation we do gain a certain and deep happiness that we can’t quite explain. Our children yearn for our nurturing and love. When they receive that they will most likely live life happily…and so will you. Of course, your child expressing their happiness and love just makes things even better! And that makes the task even more worthwhile.

So embrace those stretch marks. Embrace the greasy hair, the lounge pants with holes in it, the bulging belly that doesn’t seem to flatten out no matter how many crunches you do.  I’m a disheveled Catholic mom. And proud of it.