Parenting :: Is It Ever Easy?

Close up on feet of baby laying on a fluffy padI have experienced the following stages of parenthood so far: Hopefully expecting, infancy, toddlerhood, little kid, and I recently entered the elementary school mom phase. I know there are so many stages to come. What stage are you in your parenting journey?

I am by no means an “expert” in any of these stages, but one observation has been clear from the beginning . . . parenting is hard! I am not sure there is a single stage of this journey that has been easy. I am sure you can relate.

Current Challenges

As a first time kindergarten parent, I thought I was well prepared. It turns out, the only thing that can adequately prepare you for this is experience is actually experiencing it. We noticed almost immediately that our daughter was having a hard time, different from anything we’d experienced before. It wasn’t until over halfway through the school year that we received an ADHD diagnosis, started a 504, and are now on track to get her all the testing and help she needs to be successful.

>> RELATED READ :: A Mom’s Guide to Embracing ADHD {from Someone with ADHD} <<

As a parent of a neurodivergent child, her diagnosis has added an extra layer of complexity to our daily lives. Beginning kindergarten is a major life transition for a five-year-old. In addition to the full day of learning, there are all the social aspects of making friends and maintaining proper behavior.

With an overloaded brain well beyond its capacity, the meltdowns start before we even make it to the car from pick up. Being five is hard.

Nostalgic for the Easier Times

I know that much of my daughter’s currently behavior has to do with her diagnosis. But, as she screams at me each morning questioning, “Why do I need to put my arms in sleeves to wear this shirt to school?!” as if we’ve never gotten ready before, I often take a deep breath and think, “I miss my sweet little infant, she was so easy then!”

Many mornings (and evenings) end in tears from one or both of us, these days. So after she’s been dropped off at school or tucked into bed at night I begin to get nostalgic. I whip out my phone and start scrolling back. I start looking at my sweet baby when she was swaddled up tight sleeping like a little angel. The video of her first laugh. Our first Thanksgiving when she tried all the foods. All the happy memories. So much joy!

Or, wait . . . is that a picture of the first time she threw up on my face?! Oh! This is the one where she bit me and left a huge bruise! No, no, no, no, no. I am supposed to be remembering easier times. What have I stumbled upon?

Grateful for It All

I really start to laugh at myself now. The pictures and videos usually come with a corresponding post or journal entry. The “You’ve got this, mama” pep talks. Pure exhaustion and sleepless nights. The “I have no idea what I am doing” and “I am pretty sure I am failing at this mom thing” posts.

I start to feel a little better after that. This is all truly just a phase. It wasn’t actually any easier when she was younger then it is now. Apparently, I keep my rose colored glasses on. I choose to remember the good instead of the bad. This difficult time will pass, I have no reason to believe otherwise.

I realize I am grateful for each moment, for each obstacle we’ve overcome together. Yes, times are hard right now, but they were hard before and they will definitely be harder in the future.

A mom holds her child on her lap on a park bench.What Happens Next?

I have no idea what is to come in this parenting journey. Admittedly, I am slightly terrified. If she’s five going on 15 now? I don’t even want to think about what’s to come.

>> RELATED READ :: Parent Education Resources to Level Up Your Parenting Game <<

Give yourself grace, no matter the stage of parenthood you are in right now. None of us get this right all the time, let alone the first time! Eventually you will be able to look back at the easier — not actually easier — times and reflect on how much you have overcome and grown as a parent.

I am hopeful that as you reflect back it will bring you the sense of peace and confidence you need to get through whatever tough phase you’re going through now.

Jessica Salyers
Originally from upstate New York, Jessica has lived in the Fort Worth area since 2001. She has been married to her husband for more than 10 years, and they have a spectacular nearly five-year-old daughter through adoption. Jessica was previously very active in animal rescue and now has three dogs, a cat, a fish, a frog, and some snails for good measure. She is an aspiring plant mom and coffee enthusiast, but is really only good at one of those things. When she isn't juggling work, play dates, or every day life, you can often find her crafting. Jessica is looking forward to her next stage of parenthood as an elementary-school mom.