Parenting is hard.
I used to think that it was only hard for me, or mostly hard for me. I had all the reasons, too. I was divorced, and parenting solo is harder than parenting coupled. I am broke, too, and how could people with money struggle with parenting the way I do? My house is too small and my yard is too big and if only I had a cleaning lady or a job I loved or a loving husband…. I guess you could say I was drowning in self-pity. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that parenting wasn’t only or mostly hard for me or people like me. Parenting is hard for everyone.
As parents, we live and learn. We make mistakes and we beat ourselves up for them. We feel guilt and shame and long for do-overs and we lose sleep worrying that whatever we did (or didn’t do) just may ruin our kids forever. Parenting doesn’t come with a well-organized manual; but it does come with an overwhelming desire to both protect and love our little ones. Parenting also comes with so much fear—fear of failure and of messing up. And perhaps the greatest parenting fear of all is the fear that our kids won’t know just how much we love them and just how hard we’ve tried to be the best parents we can be. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, fat or skinny, white or black, rich or poor. It doesn’t even matter if you are famous or a great dancer or part of the most genuine, loving and adorable couple ever. I should know. I had the good fortunate of sitting down with said celebrity couple to talk parenting. Our paths crossed when I was staying at The Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale, Arizona with my son Emmet. Twitch Boss and Allison Holker were there unveiling the Splash and Dance pool party with tWitch and Allison uniquely designed by them to kick-off the lodge's new Pack of Parents program. Before I knew it, we were sitting down together chatting about all things family, fun, love and music! As it turns out, just like me, they have lived, had kids, and learned… and now they are sharing some valuable parenting advice. Here is what they had to say:
Make Life a Playground
Being an adult comes with a ton of responsibilities and stress and not enough sleep or energy or carefree FUN! Twitch says one of the best things we can do as parents is “jump in and be a kid with your kids.” I could not agree more. My favorite momming memories take place on waterslides and dance floors and roller coasters and all of the places my adult mind didn’t want to be!
So, how do we mid-lifers channel our inner child and become more playful? Well, we can take our cue from Twitch and Allison and dance more. We can also glean advice from their insights. Twitch: “I think too many times we as adults kind of get caught up in looking very perfect.” And this can hold us back from dancing (or swinging and sliding) with our kids.” We simply must challenge ourselves as parents to play more and think less. Allison asks, “life is a playground, and the moment we stop living it like that, what are we doing?” Seriously, moms and dads. Go jump in puddles, swing on tire swings and dance like everyone is watching but you just don’t give a you-know-what!
Lay the Foundation and Back Away
Parenting isn’t all play, though, and we all know the pain of watching our children navigate tough space. When our kids’ grades aren’t meeting expectations or they are being bullied or they didn’t make the soccer team, our natural reaction as parents is to micro-manage, over-control and tell our kids specifically what to do. We try to protect them. But, sometimes, the best we can do is trust that we have already done enough and that our kids can and should navigate these challenging situations on their own. When our children do make mistakes—they will not only survive but they will learn valuable lessons from it, too. Allison remembers a time when her daughter stood up to a bully and one when her son responded to hate with love—times when she as a mother wanted to jump in and protect them and save them and steer them in the right direction, but she didn’t need to. “If you lay the foundation enough for them, they come out and make their own decisions through it and those were some of my most profoundly proud moments.” Easier said than done? Heck yea it is, but watching your children make the right decision on their own- or gracefully learn from the wrong one—is so beautiful and rewarding. Lay the foundation and trust the process, friends.
Gratitude is a powerful tool: It can and will change your perspective on anything and everything if you let it. When the going gets tough, be grateful. When the unknown scares the you-know-what out of you, be grateful. When you wake up in the morning? Be grateful. And when you are grateful. Be grateful for that, too!
I asked Twitch and Allison what would be at the top of their gratitude list in this very moment. “Oh that’s easy,” said Allison. “I say it every morning in the mirror when I wake up: family, life, safe home, health, opportunities.” Twitch adds that he is also grateful “to be in right mind to think about the things we are grateful for.”
Me? My heart just melts with gratitude for meeting these two beautiful souls. Twitch and Allison are authentic, kind, gorgeous, talented, well-known human beings. The love they share for each other is undeniable (couple goals!), and from where I am sitting, they have it all and then some. But guess what? Parenting is hard even for them.