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The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

The 4 Stages of Parenting and How They Really Are Just Like the Seasons

And now she’s gone. My girl recently moved across the country for her first full-time adult job. It’s hard to explain the variety of feelings this new season brings.

I mean, of course, I’m thrilled for her. She’s dreamed of working and living in New York City since she was 7 years old. Following college, a job search, and a move to New York City, she’s off to make her dreams come true.

Though, now with both our children gone, where does that leave me?

It’s easy to wonder if I got it right. Was I the mom I should’ve been? Am I the mom I should be now? When will I know?

By all typical success measures, I nailed this parenting thing. Now that both of my children successfully completed college and are financially independent of me, I feel like there should be some big check I can make in a huge box.

Reflecting back, I realize there were seasons of knowing.

Spring
When I first knew I was going to be a mom I was enamored with the idea of bringing a new life into the world. I believed I had the perfect plan for how to parent. Clearly, parenting was about consistency and structure.

I thought how hard could it be? I got this. I’m going to get it right.

Summer
Then the kids became real children, no longer the children of my imagination. Even with all the consistency and structure in the world, my children didn’t always respond in the ways I thought they should. There were tantrums over the wrong colored cup, times when they would directly disobey my instructions, and complaints about having spaghetti for dinner, again.

I thought why is this so hard? Am I doing it right?

Fall
Next came the teen years. Between the hormones, emotional upheavals, and my own life challenges, I struggled to maintain a positive relationship with them.

I thought how is this so ridiculously hard? I know I’m not doing this right.

Winter
Finally, after a shockingly fast two decades, the focus shifted to launching them off into the world. There was the flurry of college applications, the moves out of state, financial stressors, graduations, and ultimately transitioning them from college to complete independence.

Now, I hope and pray I did it right.

Truth be told, no parent gets it right all the time.

In the end, the only thing that really matters is if our children know they are loved whole-heartily and unconditionally. Kids, both the child and adult versions, should know in the core of their being that they will never face life alone.

I know I haven’t always gotten this parenting thing right. I also know it’s never too late to try to do better.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

~ Maya Angelo

Though winter can be cold and lonely, the light still shines through.

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