Parenting is a journey. It’s usually an eighteen year plus commitment to a tiny stranger that you will walk with them and help them in their journey to independent, competent adulthood. Eighteen years of care, and then more beyond that as you walk beside them as adults, and help in a new way. Plus or minus a few years of course as every family is a bit different.
Parenting has highs and lows and a lot of unexpected twists along the way. It’s mostly neither exhilarating nor horrible it’s usually just one foot in front of the other.
It’s a lot like traveling on a long journey you can plan and read as much as you want and prepare the best you can, but the actual journey will be very different than you could have possibly imagined.
There are lots of theories and techniques for travel just as there are for parenting – some people are more luxury travelers, some are backpackers some are adventurers, many are middle of the road vacationers – all may see the same place through slightly different eyes through the lens of their varied experiences. Some may throw themselves totally into the journey for years while others travel but prefer to come home and focus on other things as well. All are valid ways to travel.
Some will identify with one style of travel more than another. Most will come up with a fusion of styles that works best for them.
The process of parenting relates – as long as all members of the family are healthy and thriving on the journey, then it is a success no matter the stylistic variance. However, when one member is not, the whole family has to slow down and reevaluate and trouble shoot to make things work for that one member. Adjustments are made to the itinerary so everyone can have the best trip possible.
When he was one year old, we took my son to Cusco, Peru and he ended up in a doctor’s office the third day because of altitude sickness. The first day we had been rushing to see various sites and hadn’t noticed that he wasn’t drinking enough milk (he was drinking his normal amount of bottles, but that doesn’t work at high altitude, and that he needed more). It wasn’t a big ordeal, he simply needed to be fully hydrated again and my husband and I needed to slow down and pay a bit more attention to his needs before going again at a slower pace. We slowed down and made sure he was taken care of for the rest of the trip, and while we missed out on seeing the Sacred Valley, the trip as a whole was a lot of fun and a great experience for us all.
So it is with parenting – there are times when you slow the pace, pause or change up your entire routine for the sake of one person. That’s okay and expected. You figure out your style, and your routine and what works for your family in particular – what works at one stage in the journey may not work in another. There will be hard parts and amazing parts with a lot of going through the motions in between.
But just like with travel, it’s your journey. Alter and adjust as you need.