The things my own parents told me about raising kids that are (annoyingly) true

Zariah Kale

Zariah Kale

Zariah is a writer, history nerd, amateur chef and mum of three. When she is not negotiating screen time with one of her two tweens, or falling asleep during movies, you'll find her scouring vintage shops for one-of-a-kind pieces or apologising to friends for the "late reply" over text.
Updated on May 28, 2024 · 6 mins read
The things my own parents told me about raising kids that are (annoyingly) true

My son was throwing a huge tantrum, and when he turned around and said the words, “You are the worst mum ever,” I was stunned.

And not just because those six words hurt, because they did, but mostly because they also brought in a rush of emotions and flashbacks.

It wasn’t long ago that I had said them too—screamed them, in fact, at my own mum—in a moment of anger or frustration. I knew she wasn’t, just like I knew I wasn’t the worst mum for asking him to brush his teeth before going to bed.

But I had said them because I was hurting and wanted to hurt her—or anyone who came in my way. And I suppose in that way, what goes around comes around full circle

And this is the universe’s way of telling you that you were a pretty difficult teen, and while you thought you knew better and thought you were an expert at parenting, your parents were actually right.

Here are some things that my parents told me about raising kids that are annoyingly true:

“You’ll understand once you have your own.”

Oh yes, I get it now. The reality of the world becomes a lot clearer after you become a parent responsible for another human being.

You can’t just Netflix and chill when you feel like it, or sleep on the couch mid movie. I wondered why my parents’ gave up on their interests and hobbies after the kids came along.

I know why they were full only after we ate, and at ease once we were all home. I know now why they nagged us to wear warm coats before leaving the house and brush our teeth before bed.

As a parent, you constantly worry about your child’s health. Every aspect of their lives is important. I remember staying awake during Ethan’s first month of school because he had failed to make a friend. Not a single one. I almost cried the day he sat in the car and told me about his new best friend.

Parenting is not easy. And you get how much it can hurt once you have your own. It’s like having a piece of your heart waddle around, and it takes a lot of courage to watch it fall and scrape its knee or come home with a broken heart.

I’ve sat with my kids—just sat—while they sobbed and healed from friendships that came to a bitter end. (second grade.) I held my breath and prayed intently as they tried different stunts on their new skateboards.

And as their curfews slowly inch towards 10 pm, I mentally prepare myself for days when I will have to stay up late and only get some shut-eye once I know they are safe in their beds.

“You’ll Get the Hang of It.”

I still remember asking my mother if parenting got easier. My oldest was 3 months old. And I was struggling to breastfeed him—latching woes—while trying to get some sleep.

On these sleepless nights, I was sure I had made a mistake and that I was not cut out for this work. With every challenge that came my way, my mother said, “It’s okay. You’ll get the hang of it.”

It was annoying because, clearly, I wasn’t getting the hang of anything. There were leaked nappies, a hungry baby, and some bad reflux.

But pretty soon, some natural instinct kicked in. And parenting did become easier. If my kids got hurt, I knew how to heal—emotionally and physically. If one of them got sick, I knew what to do to help them recover.

I got the hang of cold medicines, tips to bring the fevers down, and even how to tackle the worst meltdowns. It was like I was born for this, but I guess, my mum was right. We all get the hang of it.

“Your kids will test your limits.”

Your kids will test every ounce of patience that you have! And trust me—okay, well, trust my own parents when they say this, your kids will try and test the limits. Whether they are in their toddler years or their teen years, they will push those boundaries and see if you have a breaking point.

“Please, mum, it’s not like we were THAT bad.” We said this in our defence, years after we had grown up and moved out. And my dad would laugh and recall some crazy antics one of us had tried to pull off.  And I knew if one of my kids tried to pull that off today, I would be furious!

And now, as one of my own kids comes up with some crazy, wacky idea that I can’t even wrap my head around, I realise that my parents were absolutely spot on with this one: Parenting is nothing but a test of patience and endurance.

“You can’t just chill!”

This one is a little embarrassing, but I often used to turn around and ask my parents to worry less.

“Can you guys please chill for once?” We would often say this when they asked us to be careful. When my toddler started poking his fingers in every available socket, and my teenager thought it would be fun to try one of those daring ‘Tik Tok’ stunts like bus surfing, I realised, there is no chill in parenting!

“They grow up so fast.”

The first few months of your baby’s life can make your days and nights seem like years!

Your newborn refuses to sleep, suddenly, it feels like you have no social life of your own, and even a trip to the grocery store feels like a vacation you have to plan for days in advance.

There’s no privacy, and a small human’s demands triumph over your own.  Parenting at this point feels like being trapped for the next 18 years! The night feels long, and the endless to-do list is even longer.

But then you wake up one morning, and notice how they’re not heavy and don’t want to be carried up the stairs anymore. They stop sneaking into your bed at night, and you realise your babies are growing up so quickly, and it is at that moment that you wish time would slow down.

“They will always be your babies.”

Honestly, watching your kid push back his tears because a kid was mean to them or because they need to go through something painful like surgery can literally break your heart. You can feel their physical pain, and you would do anything to take it away from them.

Even today, my parents are concerned about whether we have been eating well and if my brother has been to his appointments.

Because you know what? The thing my parents told me that is annoyingly true is that it doesn’t matter how old your kids get, they will always be your babies.

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