Raising My Spirited Child


My little one, dressed up like a princess

Perhaps one of the most cliche and oft repeated phrases is “Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have…if not THE hardest.”

In my experience in raising my only child, it’s true.

And when it gets hard…like, really hard, it’s difficult to keep a rosy attitude about being a parent. Sometimes I feel so frustrated I just want to throw in the towel and say, “Return to sender, I’m not cut out for this job!” Sometimes I feel like I fail as a parent – sometimes more than once a week.

For me, having a toddler was easier than having a grade school aged child.  As children get older, they are able to resist more, argue more, challenge you more.  And most children, like mine, will question EVERYTHING….to the point where my head starts swirling as I try to put together an answer that is age-appropriate and understandable.

At the same time that I’m being constantly challenged and questioned, I’m thinking about the more important aspect of being a parent.  I’ve been assigned the duty of molding this child into a decent human being that will one day go out into the world, for better or worse.  Sure, she is her own person and will make her own decisions, but I’m still here to guide her on the path towards adulthood.  I am trying to do the best job I can to make her a good person that is also prepared for this harsh world.  It isn’t an easy task.

It is the hardest job I think I will ever have.  It isn’t a fairy tale, and it isn’t what I thought it would be, in both good ways and bad ways.  I didn’t get to choose my child – she is extremely “spirited”   the definition of which is, “more intense, sensitive, energetic, persistent, perceptive” – which for me equals “a parent who is often exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally”.

Every day is challenging in one way or another.  I know deep down that I am absolutely not alone in this, though truth be told, I do not have a support group of moms to talk to about raising my daughter.  But I know there are other children like her that do everything at 100% (at least it feels like it).  When I first read Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s book I knew I wasn’t the only one who had a child that wasn’t a peach to raise.  Though my spirited child is absolutely one-of-a-kind and a joy to have, raising her is a significant challenge in my life.  She is often black-and-white, full-tilt on life.  She is either making me cuddle her and love on her, or making me pull my hair out.  And yet – I wouldn’t change her to make it easier on myself, even if I could.

Keep the faith, fellow parents.  Each day survived is an accomplishment.  For me, each day is an opportunity to learn more about my child and myself as a parent.  Each day is a day to remember to go a little easier on myself than I did in the past.  Learning and growing is what we are doing each day, trying to get better. I love my daughter and even with the challenges, each day she is in my life is a precious gift. Give yourself a hug, fellow parents, and I’ll give myself one.  We deserve it.

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