Friends, I am coming to a realization. Parenting is cyclical. I’ve been told by many wise parents that “difficulty” or “testing limits” or “less-than-ideal behavior” comes in waves with kids. They go through a period where they’re content and cooperative for the most part, until the wave hits and then it’s all out war for a week or so. I can attest to this 100%. But actually, the kids are only one factor in the parenting the equation. You see, no one ever told me about the parent part of said equation.
It turns out, there is a volatile inhabitant of this ecosystem we call the Fischer household, and she is not 5 or 2, but 27. I never considered that my kids’ “waves” would set off a tsunami—me. This phenomenon is something I have named the KLF Parenting Cycle. It’s scientific and official, obviously. (I thought about calling it the “Fischer Parenting Cycle”, but I didn’t want to implicate any other poor innocent Fischers in this madness, because it’s just me. I’m the psycho. This is my psycho cycle.) In parenting, we all have “those weeks”. I was having one just last week, and you can read about it here. When the “waves” start to roll in, we all have different ways of dealing with them. So the following is an explanation of the cycle that is apparently my way of dealing with the stormy seas of parenting:
- Our little family boat is bobbing along somewhat happily (with the occasional lurches, of course), and I’m feeling pretty confident that the boat is going in the right direction, and things are, give or take, under control.
- I hear thunder in the distance, I see a few flickers of lightning, and I start to get scared. I see the storm coming and I try to brace for it as best I can—I remind myself of ALL THE PARENTING THINGS, which are…oh DANGIT WHY DO I ALWAYS FORGET ALL THE PARENTING THINGS WHEN A STORM HITS?!!!!
- The storm is upon us, and I am in full-blown panic mode. I am like a hamster jacked up on Mountain Dew who’s trying to escape the zombie apocalypse, but is still on his wheel. It ain’t pretty. I am fully convinced I am the worst parent in history and that my children would be much better off with ANYONE ELSE. I feel completely ill equipped and helpless, and so I rush out to buy or check out ALL THE BOOKS I can find that will give me all the answers.
- As I’m being violently thrown around on our barely seaworthy boat, I devour the parenting books, and become disheartened (and also seasick—don’t try to read when you’re being tossed and tormented by tiny people). I am outraged to find that NONE of them give me the secret to fix all the problems and make the storm go away. I’m also discouraged to discover that they all seem to have opposite advice and they all tell me that what I read a couple books ago is sure to irreparably harm my children. “Oh good,” I think. If they’re all correct, then I guess no matter what I do my kids will end up in jail or on Dr. Phil.
- I finally wise up, put the books down, and get quiet. I listen to the still small voice that emerges in the silence. What does the voice say? Well, it’s different every time. Sometimes it’s “I gave these unique kids to you for a reason. You’re their mom and you are best for them, not anyone else. You are enough.” Sometimes it’s “Remember to take deep breaths. Stay calm and you will have won one battle already.” Sometimes it’s “You remember that one paragraph you read in that last book? That’s a pretty good one. That advice is probably worth keeping, and by the way maybe you should try applying it tomorrow when that one thing inevitably happens.” Sometimes it’s “Go to bed. Start over tomorrow. It’s all gonna be ok.” But every single time, it’s exactly what I need to hear. I can count on it. When I desperately need it, God speaks once I quit my frantic research and get quiet enough to listen.
- I walk into a new day with that one little nugget God gave me, and it is always enough. I have the perspective I need to keep moving and keep loving, one moment at a time. And as I follow the steps God gave me, slowly the storm blows over and our little boat starts calmly bobbing again.
- And repeat. Ten thousand times.
You’d think by now I would have learned that the “golden ticket” is not going to be inside the next parenting book. But I fall for it every. single. time. So if you’re looking for a review or a “Cliff Notes” on a particular book, I might be able to help you out. And it’s not that books are never helpful; I’ve found many helpful tidbits along the way. It’s just that I’ve never found that ONE book that is 100% right for our family. I’m beginning to believe it’s just not out there, and that’s ok. Every kid is different, every parent is different, and our family is just nutso.
So there it is, folks. The 7 stages of the KLF Parenting Cycle. I’m hoping I can get off this crazy boat and quit succumbing to the madness, but I’m also learning to give myself grace. I’m considering it a victory that I’ve come to this realization, and I’m taking the first baby step in admitting to all of you that this is my problem cycle. If you see me with crazy eyes in the parenting section of the bookstore, take me by the shoulders and tell me to go get quiet. Everything I need is what I already have.
Parent on, brave sailors!