When I was young the world seemed static. Because I had so little experience with the world and had spent so little time, it appeared that everything had always been as it was in that moment. This was life and this was the world, and both seemingly had always been this way and always would be.
As I aged from a child to a teenager and into young adulthood everything changed so rapidly. I changed. My family changed. The world around me expanded at a pace that was exciting, if slightly unsettling. But, to my youthful brain it seemed as if all of this change was a new, unprecedented phenomenon.
All of that was bunk, however. It was the inexperience of youth.
Things are always changing. The world is different day-by-day, month-by-month, and certainly year-by-year.
Even my parents who seemed so set in their personas of their 40’s when I was a child were, are, and will continue to change. We are changing. This is true. It is mostly good, I believe. But, even when it feels scary or wrong, it is still happening all around us.
My older brother once commented that I was raised in a different family than the one he was born into. And, to some extent, he is absolutely correct. Being the first born into a New York City apartment of two people in their mid-20’s and only a few years into their marriage is different than being the third born in a New Jersey suburb with parents in their early 30s. This is true, of course, for my family and kids today. The difference in my life, mind, career, heart, friendships, and marriage between when I was 29 (when our first was born) and five years later (or even more so now, 13 years later) is rather large.
Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves as parents to have rules, values, and a plan that will be perfect or at least complete. But, this is an unrealistic expectation. We are changing and growing all the time. We are more experienced today than we were when we brought home our first child or our second… Our parenting is improving and the way we view the world is adapting to the circumstances in our family and around us.
Acknowledging that we are not finished products is helpful to offer ourselves grace and to give us purpose in growth and improvement. I will be a different father in five years than I am today. What an exciting opportunity to be a better father then than I am right now. Our kids are not the only ones growing and changing. So are we, the parents.
We need not be disappointed, surprised or frustrated that we are not who we hoped we would be as parents. We are also not who we used to be, and that is a very, very good thing. A sign of hope.