Reflection Amid the Twists and Turns of Parenting

by Julie Lieberman Neale on 02/22/2012

It’s funny to think that I was just graduating high school and still a child myself when I saw the movie “Parenthood” for the first time.  Although it made an impression on me at the time, it wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I could truly identify with all the emotions experienced by Steve Martin’s character throughout the film.  The parent of three children with another on the way, Martin portrayed an overwhelmed but devoted father struggling to keep his balance through the tumultuous, rollercoaster ride that is life as a parent. The messiness, the fear, and the sense of being out of control weighed down on him, but they never squelched the intense joy, love and exhilaration his family brought him.

My Parenting Journey

Like the character in that movie, my experience of parenthood has not been easy, but it has clearly been blessed. For me, the struggles began even before I was a parent. We had difficulty becoming pregnant with our son Ryan, and ultimately turned to Chinese medicine, diet, and nutrition in order to successfully conceive. When he was born, Ryan’s mere existence felt like a true miracle. We enjoyed his early childhood to the fullest, but when he was 16 months old, we were forced to reevaluate all our expectations and hopes for the future.  Ryan was diagnosed with a pervasive development disorder and we learned that he might never be able to talk, communicate, or interact like other children.

We devoted the next four plus years to intensive intervention of every kind and then experienced a second miracle as we watched our son begin to connect and socialize like his peers.  Eventually, he began to receive mainstream public education without the need of an aide, and he reached all the milestones we had originally imagined for him. He played soccer and baseball, performed in a musical, and enjoyed sleepovers with his friends and cousins.

When it came time to try for a second child, our parenting resolve was tested again, as we’ve struggled for over five years to get pregnant. We have recently turned to the resources of modern medicine for help, and we are more hopeful than ever that we will be able to give Ryan a sibling. We eagerly await the chance to once again experience all the ups and downs that having a young child will bring.

My Commitment to You

Though my path to parenthood may have had a few more twists and turns than most, I know that many of the emotions and experiences I’ve moved through are universal. At the same time, I know that my unique experiences have taught me to bring an increased level of awareness and appreciation to my parenting. I’ve also developed a strong conviction that parents must take the time to mindfully reflect, to reach out for help, to set intentions, and to take care of themselves so they can sustain and succeed in parenting.

I’m excited to bring my whole, authentic self here to The Parenting Playground. Through my monthly blog posts, I will share with you about my personal reflections, life lessons, and the countless questions that arise throughout this rollercoaster ride called parenthood. I whole-heartedly agree with the message of that movie: being a parent is both the most harrowing and the most rewarding experience we humans can have. For me, it’s brought a depth of meaning to my life that I hadn’t known before.  It’s forced me to dig deep within myself for strength and resilience, and to constantly strive to become the absolute best me I can be.

Reflection

I consider it an honor to contribute to The Parenting Playground by sharing my experiences and insights and, in doing so, I hope to become an invaluable resource for you. Until next time, I invite you to think about these questions and I welcome your responses on the blog:

  • What have been the most joyous and meaningful aspects of being a parent for you? What have been most difficult?
  • How have you been personally changed by this experience of parenting?  In what ways would you like to continue to grow?

Much appreciation,

Julie

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Miyamoto March 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Julie,
So beautiful to see you here sharing your parenting journey story! I resonate with several of your details related to the challenge of conceiving which has brought an added layer of appreciation and gratitude for every day that I get to live and learn from my precious girls (6 1/2 twins).

Your strength and fierce love as a mother runs through every word you have shared. I look forward to following your continued parenting journey!
;)
Amy (Neal) Miyamoto
Go Bruins! – BW staff ’92 ’93

Reply

Denise Iskander April 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Julie,

This article is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Obviously, knowing Ryan, you have been one dedicated Mother and advocate for him because you would never know that he has been diagnosed with developmental delays. Getting early intervention payed off!

We do take on many roles as parents, don’t we? And a long roller coaster ride ahead of us we do have!!!

Denise

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