By Nick Berry
The due date had passed and she was going to be induced.
As a couple, we were ecstatic and both glowing from the prenatal adventure. This had been such a blissful intimacy. I distinctly remember when my first child was born; I classify it as my key spiritual experience. I cried uncontrollably, and for the very first time in my life I felt unconditional love.
I was naïve and didn’t comprehend that this was the beginning of my journey as a parent.
I loved this tiny creature without it giving me anything but dirty diapers, vomit, and sleepless nights. My heart was open and I wanted to be the very best parent possible—little did I know that being a perfect anything is impossible. I fumbled around with baths in the sink, getting a diaper on before it was dirty, and the master craft of swaddling a baby in their blankets. Even with all the stress of being a new parent my heart never ceased loving, and that’s why I believe unconditional love is so very important in parenting.
My children, yes children, are now nine, seven, and five, yet this love in my heart never has diminished: it has grown despite them.
They’ve taken a poop in the toilet and tried to dig it out with a mitten. They’ve pooped in the bath tub and like a possessed CDC worker, I’ve dipped it out to save them from the possible contaminants. I’ve had puke in my mouth, and not my own. Note: don’t play Superman with a baby after it’s eaten. They’ve fought and hurt each other. They’ve down right disregarded everything I’ve ever taught them. Yes folks, I’ve experienced irritation… A second later, however, my heart is once again consumed with unconditional love.
I must remember they are still young, we all have mistakes to make and we all have the heart to forgive.
My children have lived in two different households at an early age. Marriages sometimes don’t work, but I’ve learned that parenting must go on. I no longer had a partner to guide me to behave. I had to become my guiding force of appropriate language and behavior so my kids could learn the appropriate way to behave.
I curse like a sailor. Of course, any parent reading this knows the outcome. It’s either a GD here or an F bomb somewhere else like Wal-Mart. The children would mimic any little voice, word, or activity that I was a participant in. I would sometimes forget that modeling is the easiest way a child can learn. The kids are learning and most of all I am learning ways to act and react while children are present. This appropriate, positive modeling is a work in progress.
I’ve come to find out that how I act around my children is the way I should react at all times. Thanks kids!
Modeling has been a great parenting tool for me during the summer months when the children spend time with me. A house needs to be kept up and chores need to be done. I believe it’s beneficial for kids to learn basic skills such as cooking, washing dishes, cleaning house, caring for pet, and laundry. These skills aren’t only necessary for successful life once they are on their own but also help build positive self-worth for a job well done and helping the family unit.
Many people have different views on children discipline. I had to come into my own discipline philosophy by trial and error. In the early years I used my voice, tone, and ability to spank as my weapons of discipline. After years I noticed that this type of discipline only worked while I was visually in distance and that it wasn’t what I wanted for my children. I believe a line of communication can be opened with the smallest of children so I set forth on that path.
I would hear the yells and moans from the room next to mine and anyone would assume someone was being tortured. I began calling the kids out, calmly, and then having conversations with them about their behavior and how that behavior affected the family unit. I found that even a four year old can have rational thought and contemplate the consequences of their actions.
I’ve learned rational communication with rational discipline out beats the yelling and fear of getting a spanking.
As a parent and human I’ve experienced anger, sadness, happiness, joy, struggles, and pain. What do we do with these emotions and how exactly are we supposed to raise a child while going through such things? I believe that self-love is a beautiful example that our children must see and experience.
I am connected with nature, therefor I attempt to connect my children with nature. We hike and camp. We talk about adventurers and mysterious myths such as Bigfoot. I show my kids my self-love by exercising on a daily basis and eating well. I’m fueling my spirit, but also fueling my kids desire to lift, run and eat well. It is highly important to show our youth, my children, that there are outlets that don’t gravitate to self-destruction, low self-esteem, and self-loathing.
Self-love is good for the participant as well as those watching.
Parenting has been an adventure and a hard, hard learning experience. It has also given me the drive to go on when every fiber of my being calls for me to give up. As you’ve read I’m no expert and I’ve run no clinical studies to decide what a good parent is. What I have done is been present in every moment that I am capable of being present in with my children. I will make some more mistakes. The list of unconditional love, modeling, discipline, and self-love will hopefully grow so that I too will grow as a human and parent.
Nick Berry is an amateur writer of poetry and short stories. He is a special needs teacher in a rural, Southern Indiana community. When he is not writing or educating he is spending quality time with his three children, Sienna, Everett, and Elijah. They enjoy outdoor adventures and quality snuggling time watching T.V.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak