Managing The Hell Out Of Life – Part 13: The Raw Reality Of Parenting

I recently read a fantastic article on being a parent – raw and honest observations from mums on their experiences. It was a breath of fresh air to read some unfiltered and hard-hitting truths about this subject. Most of us only admit our negative feelings inside our head, for fear of judgement – from ourselves as well as others. In fact, I think parenting is probably the one area of our lives, where we are judged the most.

It brings to mind an incident that happened to me at Christmas. It was late one night in our sleepy village. I heard a commotion outside – teenagers on their way home after a night out. They saw me looking out of the window and whilst looking me straight in the eye, snapped my Christmas lights and laughed. I suspect they were somewhat surprised, when I then gave chase in my nightie, down the street for this misdemeanour.

The next day, I posted the incident on the local facebook page – to see if anyone knew them. Christmas fairy lights may not seem important in the scheme of things, but believe me, when it takes 3 hours to put them up – they are! I received many responses, but by far the most common was ‘I blame the parents’. Well, I don’t. It wasn’t the parents who snapped the fairy lights. I do not know the parents, their story and suspect they may not even know what their sons are up to some of the time. I can sympathise because I have a teenager too. With the best will in the world, I do not know what he is up to all of the time. That doesn’t make me a bad parent or one who does not teach morale and respectful principles, it just means that I don’t do 24 x 7 surveillance. And let’s face it, if my son has done something he knows to be wrong, he is likely to cover his tracks, as best as he can.

But the refreshing honesty and candour of the article, has inspired me to action. It made me think about what I struggle with as a mum and how on earth we are meant to navigate this increasingly complex role, in an increasingly complex world. It is the one role that I have had the least training in and redefines the whole meaning of a VUCA environment! I have no doubt, I am not alone in feeling like this.

For me, there are 3 key challenges I struggle with:

  1. The weight of responsibility of parenthood is heavy. I’m effectively a trustee of their world and eventually, I hope, they will be able to navigate the wider world themselves. But the risks associated with that role are enormous. One f*ck up can have life-changing consequences or not – you just don’t know. And by the time you do, it’s probably too late. To put it in context, it’s a little bit like carrying out intricate brain surgery with absolutely no training.
  2. It’s one of the few areas in life, where we get to predict the future, sit with that knowledge and watch it unfold. Excruciatingly painfully at times – waiting for the inevitable to happen and having to be ready to mop up the aftermath. And to add insult to injury, it will probably have triggered something in your own sub-conscious or childhood experience, so you get a second shock wave after the initial clean up exercise.
  3. Equality does not always exist in parenthood. Sometimes it feels like it’s a one-way street – not malicious or premeditated, just the reality of parenting. You can be blamed for something you didn’t do or scolded for things you do for the greater good. You get to watch their joy from the sidelines, but experience their anger and hurt as if it was yours. You get to cry alone with frustration, anger and hurt, for someone you would die for, rather than see them do the same.

So why do we do it, apart from the obvious biological necessity? Because our experiences with our children, both bad and good, teach us just as much as we teach them.

Upon the shoulders of giants we build. Our mistakes can become their greatest lessons, our strengths their greatest allies, our selflessness their greatest comfort and our love, the foundations upon which their lives are built.

For us, our children teach us to see things differently, to trust our instincts, to give love for no other reason that we want to, to receive love with spontaneity, to embrace our sense of wonder and curiosity, to live in the moment, to express our true selves without a superficial filter, to learn how to forgive quickly, to reflect on our lives and our decisions, to take accountability for ourselves and perhaps the greatest gift of all, to finally appreciate the critical role and sacrifices our parents made, in order to help us become who we are today.

Everyone, including our children, is doing the best they are able to, at any given point in time. Sometimes that is positive and sometimes it’s not. Our love does not waiver during those times, but our experience and learning grow exponentially.

So, I’m learning to enjoy the joy no matter where it is and to embrace the difficult times, one day at a time. My belief in getting through them is strong and the rawness of my love is keenly felt – which I think, will ultimately be a good thing.

What are your raw and honest observations on being a parent?

Note: The article that inspired this one can be found HERE.


Nik Davis
Nik Davis
NIK DAVIS is a business transformation expert and has spent 20 years in the corporate world. Her comfort zone is order, logic and applying analytical tools to solve complex problems. She is also a keen observer of life, a writer and eccentric. Nik has recently returned to the world of work after taking a career break to spend time with her family. Upon her return, she found that her perspective had changed, as had the world she was returning to. Nik decided to carve out a new place in that world and mould some of it to fit her too. Nik sees life from quirky angles, shaped by experiences and the vast amount of knowledge we now have access to. She likes to write about her experiences and observations. To ‘tell it how it is’ and to find a more authentic way to live, whether in our professional or personal lives. Nik often talks about finding ‘The Third Way’. It’s a philosophy about life, having a personal life as well as a career, making money and being socially generous, being logical and sensitive, living by the rules of a society but not being afraid to challenge them, inspiring others to feel good but not for your own ego, giving rather than taking. Nik wants to make a difference to this world by getting people to see things differently, to try new ways of working but most of all, to re-discover our true selves and therefore reach our true potential. Nik also has two other persona’s: nikdavis which is where Nik writes about her deeply personal experiences of life. Nik runs a facebook group alongside this website to create a safe place for people to discuss the topics that are raised in her blog. Nik’s second persona is Lilly Isabella and this is where she shares her passion of fashion and design.

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  1. Nik, The topic of parenting, as we know, is fodder for endless personal experiences and perspectives, each one valid in their own right. I am actually in the process of developing a post on this topic around the “impostor syndrome”. I think we all have unique experiences each of which are valid because, in fact, they are own. However, I do believe we tend to think our experiences and feelings are unique, when in reality more parents than we think have similar experiences, thoughts and even misgivings at times.

    • Completely agree – so many parents are scared to really say how it is at times and I’m sure we are all feeling very similar things and experiencing very similar emotions. It’s so helpful and reassuring when we realise we are not alone. All the very best, Nik

  2. What a powerful article, Nik! I appreciate your question very much as I found full-time parenting to be the greatest and most challenging work of my life. Some of what I noticed about this experience was that deep healing had to take place inside of me-I simply had to “break the cycle” of my own childhood traumas at an even deeper level, to become the healthiest person I could be because parenting was terrifying at times. How my children, just being children, triggered my unhealed wounds, the raw, unresolved inner volcanic pot of pain took my breath away and awakened me to that path of getting much needed help and support. Children are emotional, noisy, untethered, brilliant, unique, demanding, delightful, and they keep evolving right before our eyes. If you haven’t felt some emotions in your life, get ready to feel all of them deeply, to your core-from terror to joy. If we don’t know what a three-year-old needs versus a fourteen-year-old we are bound to make many mistakes and we DO! Being responsible for another human being’s emotional, social, physical, and spiritual well-being remains daunting. Creating safety, structure, and support can take great effort if you remain blind-sided by what the child right in front of you actually needs to flourish. Cultivating self-awareness seems to be critical. Parenting does not come with a handbook for your particular child or children. For me, full time parenting cracked me open raw like no other life experience. Without skills, tools, resources, education, and an understanding of the developmental needs of children and even WITH all of this, parenting, in my opinion, is the toughest job in the world—24/7 round the clock commitment to the lives of other human beings.

    Thank you so much for asking the question, Nik, and for writing such a profound article!

    • Hello Laura, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I completely get it. I have had to work very hard at understanding my children’s genuine issues and those that are actually mine, but triggered by something happening to one of my children. Like you, I find the journey terrifying and the hardest job I have ever done – it has also helped me grow as a person, but sometimes that has been incredibly difficult. Your words really resonate with me, thank you for sharing them. All the very best, Nik x

  3. Refreshing article, Nik!

    I’m one of those who, if society hadn’t demanded I do it, would never have been a mother. But in the 1960s through the ’80s, the choice to not have kids was not easy to make. Women got married, if they were lucky had a job for a year or two, then got pregnant, had babies, and stayed at home raising them.

    It was the unwritten rule … and although I love my daughters, I know I was a so-so mother. I seem to be wired to care, but at a distance … if that makes any sense.

    I used to joke that their dad and I gave them roots and wings, and the one I’m still close to joked back “yeah, but the wings were stronger, Mom!” Indeed.

    I am largely an introvert and also a Lone Ranger, content to be on my own. I enjoy living in my village, and I realize how lucky I am to have friends here to socialize with and to help and receive help from (especially as I age), but I just am a singular entity, content most of the time with my own company.

    I’m curious to see how others see your article!

    • Hello Susan, thanks so much for taking the time to comment and sharing your experiences so honestly – it is much appreciated. It’s not easy being a parent and no one can prepare you for what lies ahead. I found the loss of my time and space, very difficult to adapt to. Now they are growing, I am enjoying seeing them spread their wings – as you say. I also enjoy the piece and quiet enormously whilst they do so!! All the very best Nik x

  4. Nik, at 49-years-old I have never been a parent. But guess what? I am caregiving for one parent with dementia and another one that just a day ago I was caring for after they just had a knee replacement surgery. I could feel myself having to have a great deal of patience ( and putting up with expletives) and probably them for me over my time at home. Your article reminds me of the job a parent has to go through and loving no matter what being there through the good and the not so good times. I have compassion in my heart as I start the day. Thank you for these points to take in. Yours was a timely read.

    • Hi Maureen, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m glad this was a timely read for you. Being a caregiver is such an important role. Wishing you all the very best, Nik x

  5. Thanks Nik. It’s so refreshing to hear the recognition of the WHOLE parenting experience. In my work with clients, I find that when parents remember that their children choose them just the way they are, they can relax and allow their children to be who they are as well. When we screw up, it can be the perfect ‘gift’ for us both. That’s why we came together – right? To learn and grow. Love your article. THANK YOU!

    • Hi Wendy, thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes, I completely agree. We are together for a reason and my mistakes may well be their biggest lessons!! Take care Nik

  6. Great article my friend. I raised a child by myself and I loved most of it. It didn’t get into any trouble until he was 17 and we worked through that. He never was an entitlement kid and he worked hard and smart in shaping his life.

    • Thank you Larry – your support is appreciate and I hope you are well. Wow, raising a child by yourself is a serious achievement, well done. I have no doubt he is a real credit to you. Take care my friend.