When the intense feelings and exhaustion from giving birth to my first child wore off and they handed me this tiny little person to take home, I was terrified.
Sure, I had held a job, paid the bills, rented an apartment, washed my clothes, did the dishes–all the usual “adulting.” This, however, was a whole other category of responsibility. In my arms was a precious, defenseless, tiny bundle of need and she was completely reliant on me and my husband.
What if we couldn’t interpret her cries? What if we got shampoo in her eyes? What if we couldn’t manage the proper “burrito” swaddle–you know, tight enough that it wouldn’t come undone but not too tight? Little did I know that it would only get more challenging as she got older.
Parenting is a joy. Parenting is hard work. Above all else, parenting is a huge responsibility.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I made healthy choices that would give her the best start. I even went through my cabinets and tossed products with questionable chemicals and bought more natural replacements. I took the nutritionist’s advice to heart and made sure to mix complex carbohydrates with lean proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables. We researched all the safest car seats and agonized over silly things like high-contrast patterns on baby accessories.
Responsibility is so much more than just obsessing over some educational toy my kid will ignore in favor of the packing box, however.
Responsibility as a parent is a life-long commitment to my children. It is a promise to walk beside my children, to be there for them, to sacrifice some of my own desires for their needs, and to help them grow, learn, and thrive.
Responsibility means showing up–cutting the television binge-watching short because the kids have soccer early the next morning.
Responsibility means making smart decisions–buying the practical minivan over the exciting sports car (at least most of the time).
Responsibility means being accountable–following through on our promises and commitments and making things right when we make mistakes.
Responsibility means making healthy choices about food and alcohol because I know my actions speak louder than my words.
C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” I suppose, then, that responsibility is doing the right thing for the future, even when something else sounds more fun right now.
Responsibility isn’t just a duty, though–it is also a privilege. It means I have something that makes all of the sacrifice worthwhile. I want my kids to know that I take my responsibilities as their mom very seriously. I also want them to know that this is not a dour obligation but rather a joyful calling.
Sometimes my husband and I reminisce about sleeping in on the weekends before we had kids. We’d roll out of our city apartment around noon and pick up picnic supplies.Then, the rest of the day was ours to meet with friends, read whatever we wanted, and maybe even see a movie more sophisticated than PG-13. We could have dinner when we felt like it, wherever we pleased, with no worries about meltdowns. At the end of the night, we could even hop in a taxi cab without worrying about a booster seat.
As fun as a spontaneous, carefree night out sounds right now, there’s no way I would permanently trade that sort of freedom for the wonderful responsibility of raising my kids. I know the responsibility to teach my kids how to lead smart, healthy lives #StartsWithMe, and no better time to bring this up than April, Alcohol Responsibility Month.
When they ask me if I’ll be in to tuck them into their beds, help them with their school projects, or cheer them on at their games and concerts, I can honestly say, “It will be my pleasure.”