I thought once I had kids, parenting would come naturally. The love part did. The rest of it, I needed some help with.

I had no idea parenting was something you could LEARN.

But let's start at the beginning...

My first days of parenting looked like THIS. You get the idea.

It's almost like I can hear my poor baby just throwing his arm up, thinking:

"Geesh, I can't believe I got stuck with this lady!"

 

 See, when I first had kids, I thought I was going to be great at it.

Yeah... 

I had very clear ideas of the kind of family I wanted to help create, my husband and I were close and on the same page, we really wanted children, and we were conscious loving people who had had full lives before kids. Seriously - how hard could this be?

 

Well, it turns out, it wound up being pretty hard, actually.

My first son had major medical issues we did not expect, and needed open heart surgery at birth. That picture above was about a month or so after we had finally been released from the hospital to go home. You can see the shock on my face.

And then my second son had different medical issues.

But really, I found the regular day to day of parenting just as beautiful and difficult as the major medical challenges we were facing. I had no idea how lonely parenting would feel. I couldn't understand why my children whom I loved so much could be so difficult. It never occurred to me that sometimes they would fight that love. That they would need something other than my love. And who knew that sometimes I wouldn't feel that love? That sometimes I would feel rage or grief or frustration or disappointment.

None of those were the things I had imagined and yet here they were, staring me in the face.

But luckily so were my toddler, and my baby.

I had to find a way to make it all work. To acknowledge what I was feeling, But somehow give them what they needed. To transform my feelings of powerlessness into the confidence I NEEDED to have the kind of family I had imagined.

I looked everywhere and tried every parenting methodology I could. A year later, I was still frustrated. The things they told me to do weren't working with my kids, which either led me to believe my kids were just super difficult or I was an awful mom who had done irreparable damage somehow and none of us would ever be happy. That was how dark it felt, the day someone casually mentioned I should check out Hand in Hand Parenting.

I did. And that was the last day I wondered if I could do this parenting thing. That was the first day I knew we would all make it through, and thrive TOGETHER.

After that, I started absorbing everything I could. From Patty Wipfler at Hand in Hand Parenting. And then from Dan Seigel. From Gordon Neufeld. And many others who also made sense to me.

And as I cobbled together all these new truths, what I learned is this:

Sometimes, love is not all you need.

You need tools that work. And a mentor to teach them to you.

With my mentors by my side, I was lucky enough to heal my own family. But I couldn't stop there. I started teaching other families - not as a job, but rather as a passion. I was just so determined that everyone should have the right to this kind of information and support. Five years after that, I went back to Hand In Hand to become an instructor because it was clear that this was not just my passion - this was my life's work. Years later, I am now a fully certified Hand in Hand consultant, and have already taught thousands of families. 

Because now I know it doesn't have to be so hard.

And I want YOU to know it too.

 XO, Abigail