It’s hard for me to believe that it has been 13 years since I brought my oldest daughter, Rosie, home from the hospital. I remember leaving the hospital with confidence that this new adventure of parenting would be similar to some of the professional hills I had climbed. I knew I would face challenges and unknowns, but following a pattern of how I had solved other problems in my life, I knew all the answers were attainable with a little research and hard work.
What I did not realize is that parenting is COMPLETELY different from anything I had ever experienced, simply because humans (even in their tiniest baby form) are the most complex, unique, wonderful beings on the planet, and I had the new responsibility of raising one! I was thrown into a world of ambiguously navigating the most complex and emotional journey I have ever been on. (I am still in that world, as I am now raising a teenager!)
I have yet to meet a parent who ends each day with a shout of “Yes!!! I nailed this parenting thing AGAIN today!!!” Nor have I ever met a parent who said they had it all figured out. However, I have personally learned (and research is now confirming) that success is not measured in how perfect of a parent you are. Success is measured in moments.
We have all experienced the power of a moment—a moment of connection, a moment of bonding, a moment of cuddling. We appreciate these moments as adults, but they are critical to developing babies and young children. Singing a tickling song, cuddling and looking at a book, playing a bouncing game on your knees, observing a flower at the park. It does not usually take long, but there is something profound that happens in your child’s development in a brief moment of intentional time. Neural connections are built and strengthened in your child’s brain, supporting the development of language and social skills, and fortifying social-emotional functioning. The resulting brain architecture lays the very foundation for later outcomes in academic performance, mental health, and interpersonal skills.
While there is a lot to be anxious about when raising a child—work schedules, childcare choices, health decisions, etc.—the anxiety is lightened when we understand and harness the power of the moment.