The Most Surprising Thing I’ve Found About Parenting

Image: Maaike Bernstrom PhotographyToday is my daughter's fourth birthday. Gretchen Rubin says about parenting: "The days are long. but the years go fast." I can't help but refer back to this phrase over and over again as my kids get bigger. Yes, the days before my children were born seem like forever ago, but they also seem to be growing up so quickly. I knew parenting would be hard (although nobody ever knows how hard it really is until they do it), and I knew that I would always look back at their baby and toddler years and wish they were longer, but what has surprised me the most in the past (almost) seven years of being a parent is truly how quickly they grow up; not so much physically or in years, but cognitively and emotionally.

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When my son was a baby, I envisioned him at six-years-old as enjoying playing sports, learning how to read and write, and playing LEGOs. I wasn't prepared to have a little boy who was running into my room on opening day of baseball season with his Red Sox jersey in hand to wear (something I hadn't even thought of telling him to do) and who rattles off sports statistics and team rosters at a moment's notice. I wasn't picturing a boy who rarely plays with those police and fire stations he just had to have a year ago because he's just not that into toys unless they involve sports or are board games.

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When I look at my daughter, I can't help but wonder where she came from. She is so confident and clever and determined and blond (which was a total shock to me). I was actually nervous about her first parent-teacher conference a few weeks ago because she likes to do things her own way and is much more creative than into working on her numbers or letters. But what I've realized lately is that she is incredibly thoughtful. She doesn't always say a lot about what's going on around her, but she soaks up every little detail, and when you least expect it she surprises you with a comment that makes you realize that while you thought she's playing quietly in the corner, she's actually carefully processing everything she comes into contact with.

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While in many ways they are still just babies, I am continually amazed at how early on they start to become independent and begin to understand the world around them. Luckily there are many things that they still don't understand, but this time of true innocence is so very short. While I don't shield them from everything, I also don't encourage them to grow up any faster than they already are.

This post was written by Sarah Fernandez of Chateau & Bungalow.

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