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The Sweet Spot Of Parenting

While many people see parenting as a roller coaster, Evelyn Lewin prefers to think of it as a road...

As I turned around to look at my kids on our drive home from our family holiday, I smiled as I watched my younger and older daughter asleep in the car and my son happily staring out the window. It had been a great three days away. Lots of laughing, playing and spending time together as a family. It was one of those times where things just seemed to work. And I realised, as I looked at my kids, that I was in a sweet spot of parenting. Once you’ve been doing this gig for a while, you learn that parenting has many challenges. While it’s often described as a roller coaster, I picture it more like a road. There are rocky patches, times when we all seem to bump into each other. Times when we simply clash, or things just don’t work.Times when it feels like the car is so stuck in mud it’s barely moving. Add in external factors like weather (or, you know, exhaustion), and it can get pretty hard to drive out there. When I’m exhausted, I just don’t have the same patience. I feel like a storm, gusty winds brewing beneath the surface, lightening about to erupt. (Ugh, I hate driving in a storm.) But then, sometimes, the road is smooth. There doesn’t have to be any major reason for this. Things just seem to glide along. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and clean; the drive is really enjoyable. That’s what I like to think of as the sweet spot of parenting; it all just works. I’m in one of those sweet spots right now. I’m not really sure why I’m in such a sweet spot at the moment. It’s not like anything has significantly changed. Yes, my son recently turned five (and five is apparently the ‘easiest’ age), but my two daughters are currently seven years old, and 20 months old, so that doesn’t explain it. There are still challenging times, but I’m not feeling knocked down by them, and they don’t seem that bad at the moment. I now know that the weather won’t be all blue skies ahead, and the road will get bumpier again. The funny thing is that it doesn’t actually bother me. It used to bother me, though. A lot. Every time I used to hit a rough patch I never really understood that that’s all it was; a patch. When I used to be in one of those patches, I assumed things had taken a major turn for the worse. I couldn’t understand see that I was just in a bumpy part of the road. In fact, I didn’t even really understand that I was on a road at all. I just thought that the change represented my new reality (and that my new reality kind of sucked). It took me a long time to realise that, because the road is constantly changing, there will be ‘easier’ and ‘harder’ times. Nowadays I embrace those changes. I now know that the rough patches don’t define parenting or my relationship with my kids; that I just need to keep travelling, keep moving, and we will get through it. But for now, while the conditions are good, I’ll enjoy this part of the trip. I’ll relish the cool breeze in my hair as the sun beats down and the wheels roll smoothly beneath me. Because I now know that even if the next part of the road is bumpy, another sweet spot lies ahead. Words: Evelyn Lewin Image: Julie Adams