Parenting is constant.
It is a difficult activity that takes up every ounce of our being, every minute of every day.
Yet, the most joyous, the most rewarding, the most passionate of all loves.
Passion is not always joyous.
There are tears galore, frustration, the feeling of wanting to choke the shit out of another human being, (but if you are sane, even at that moment of insanity, you don’t), saying crap in another’s face that at that moment sounds good because they just touched every sympathetic nerve with a heated barb.
Parenting is an intense road of constant direction, worry, and needing to impart your beliefs on another for their own good, even if it doesn’t really go over well.
That’s if you’re doing it right.
One thing I always say about passion…even in its worst form…anger, tears, telling someone to F-off, it comes from hard core emotion. Most of the time it comes from love. Without love of something, a person, an occupation, a food (if you’re Italian), there is no passion. There is no anger when the other person rejects our idea, rejects an apology, a hug, a kiss, without passion.
Passion is hurt. Passion is anger. Passion is rejection. As twisted and uncomfortable as those emotions are, it means we love.
Indifference is passion’s nemesis. When we can walk away without feeling or caring even under explosive circumstances, or feel nothing in a relationship that is supposed to bring us joy, indifference is born.
Parenting is full of passion. But, that passion doesn’t have to be gooey and demonstrative every day of the week.
Whether it’s a grand explosion of embraces, trips to DQ, shopping sprees and pinatas or the day to day grind, passion for parenting allows us to get up every day and do it again and again.
But, using the word “No,” just to say it so we know we are in the driver’s seat isn’t the balance, either.
Parenting is totality. It’s not about the one moment in time when you pissed each other off, or the one vacation to Disney that was so dreamy you bought everything at that store in Tomorrowland to redecorate your kitchen.
It is the mundane, every day routine, but your constant presence of love…your rock for your child, that bologna or meatball sandwich, the project they forgot that you dropped off when you were in your workout gear…it’s all passion. It’s consistency and totality.
Parents who have incessant rigidity will never get to the core of their kid..their needs, and most importantly who they are. Once you unlock this mystery, you will be better adept at navigating the relationship. They seem to be too focused on the mechanics of parenting, rather than the heart.
Have you ever heard this stupidity: “I’m not your friend. I’m your mother?” Right-o mommy-o, oh most holy one. Wrong.
Most relationships, even the romantic ones, the ones with staying power are built on friendship first.
You were your kid’s first friend. First true love, first confidant, their entire world. Their trust.
And, now, just to make a point from the throne, you have demoted them to royal subject and rent free squatter to hold dominion over them because…why?
Without that level of friendship and openness, your mini me will search for other pastures, and others who will listen to them.
I did not say they are your equal. That’s different. Respect is foremost. But, the balance between parent and friend is key, and as I told my daughter the other night during a moment of negative passion, respect begets respect. Yeah, mom, dad, it’s hard.
Showing the omnipotent, infallible teenager respect for their space by asking (even though you own their car, the car insurance, and are the gas cash cow) if they will drive their sibs to dance, what their schedule is, trying to work around their lives, only promotes a giving back of the same. Remember, at any age, children learn what they live. They learn to love from you, how to treat others, and for the good and bad of it, probably how to parent.
I made it through 25 almost 26 years of parenting, without one chart, one colored sticker, one fucking emoji calendar. I don’t put anything in my phone, and my head is my secretary. I fly by the seat of my Fabletics, I can be disorganized and messy. I suck at banking and I can’t get past fourth grade math. And, some days I feel like I suck at it all.
But, I didn’t follow some psychologist’s rubric on how to raise my own child. I didn’t use a book. My mom was dead, and my father was kind, but he didn’t know anything about potty training or diaper changing. I winged it through instinct.
Follow your instinct. F everything else. Teach love. Not Hare Krishna Kumbaya, My Sweet Lord Love, but every day useful love.
Teach compassion. And the best way to teach is to show. Don’t pontificate. Get pissed, because we all do. But, be able to say I’m sorry.
Be generous with uncovering your foibles, because we all have them. Kids will pressure themselves less if they know you are not perfect. Be kind when they fail, falter, bring home a bad grade. We’ve all been there. Demonstrate the compassion and patience you would want demonstrated to you.
Keep your home open for them to bring friends over. You would rather have them there than anywhere else, even if it means a group of long haired teenagers use your house like an after prom shore romp.
Build up the good moments of love and tolerance like an investment, so when you need to let it rip, because as parents we have to, it will balance the softer moments, and above all, leave space for the uncomfortable part of setting a ground rule, dealing with repercussions and lesson learning.
Vexatious moments will arise all through life that need to be pointed out and dealt with…be armed with parental authority and recognize the teachable moment.
Passion isn’t just sex, making out, hanging all over your significant other on the couch watching Netflix. It is about loving what you do…loving others in good moments and moments of distress, discord and disagreement.
Passion in its most beautiful form is an expression of love.
Don’t be guilted by the ugly moments, for they come from love. When you embrace your children, embrace the passion of parenting. It’s hard core, it’s timeless, it’s never ending.
It is a gift.