The combination of being a part time parent and something I saw on Facebook has made me think about being a parent and what it really involves as opposed to simply looking after kids. I realise that I am a parent all of the time, even when Annie isn't with me (Reuben is with me all the time now) because being a parent is really completely different to simply looking after the kids. Now this is probably completely obvious to all the rest of you, but hey! I'm a slow learner.
So looking after kids is lovely. I like having kids around that I am looking after. Like my dear friend Stuart (who loves me, he's five), he comes to my house and eats food (that is slightly bad for him) has some screen time, plays with the toys and generally has a nice time. But I don't parent Stuart. I just love him and hang out with him.
Parenting is different. Parenting is about keeping all of the parts of your child's welfare in your head at the same time, whilst honouring what has happened to them in the past and dreaming of the best possible future for them. Parenting is not about the fun times, but how you handle all the in betweens.
Parenting is about making sure the every day mundane doesn't turn to drudgery. It is about keeping dreams alive whilst injecting a dose of reality. Parenting is an impossible task. I'm pretty sure noone can actually really do it justice.
But oh my goodness, I'm going to try my hardest with everything that is in me. I will be the boundary that they need, I will be the soft place to fall. I will laugh with them, not at them. I will respect their worries and I will encourage their dreams. I know that I fail over and over. But I will keep right on trying. I'm going to take the bits of my life and weave them together to make something that is strong and good that my children can take shelter in and feel safe.
This is what parenting is to me. This is what loving my kids is to me.