The Vulnerability of Parenthood


1997 was a challenging year for our family. My husband lost his job of 16 years forcing in motion a move from our Colorado home. Transition followed as we prepared for a bold move across the country to Iowa. Our children, 10 years and 4 years old at the time, were filled with trepidation, excitement and many questions. “What’s Iowa, Mommy?”, “Will I have a big room?”, “Are the mountains there?”.

I tried to answer each question honestly, with a touch of glitter sprinkled in. “Iowa is where mommy and daddy first met, it is a very special place. We went to college at a big University in Iowa and we were married in Iowa.” My son accepted these answers and ran to his room to start packing his toys. My normally resilient four-year-old daughter crawled into my lap, snuggled in and earnestly asked, “Is there a zoo in Iowa?”  “Yes, sweetheart there is, but it will not be close to our new house, like the Denver zoo is now.” I took a deep breath and then was hit with the unexpected. The answer was a deal breaker for my sweet child; in the moments following my answer she raged into a fit of tears, a tirade ensued, as she flung her arms and feet in every direction.  There was no consoling her. I maintained a calm exterior, yet was equally shaken and distraught.

“I want a zoo! I want a kitty! I want to be a princess!” All these unexpected demands were spewing from my precious child. I had no choice but to wait out the tantrum. I tried to hold her, rock her, even sing to her, but she needed to let out her anxiety while I watched, feeling helpless.

Without warning I realized I was crying. As tears ran down my face I experienced a cathartic release, I was not ready to leave the beautiful mountains, nor to be stuck in a small remote distant place. I realized how furious I was that my husband’s treasured career had been wiped out due to powers beyond our control. I felt even more powerless that our family was being displaced.

Suddenly, I realized that my daughter had stopped crying and was staring at me. She reached out gently, touched my tears and gave me the most soothing hug. Saying sweetly, “Mommy don’t be sad, we will find a zoo in Iowa.”

The tenderness of my child’s words, her touches and heart worked to shift the dread from my mind. In joining with her as she cried, we bonded, strengthened and healed. I learned so much in those few moments as I joined my little girl in grief over our move. 

Today, that little girl is a young lady, just completed her first year in college. She is more resilient than ever, and equally as caring and tenderhearted. Together we have visited a few zoos, traveled the world, and laughed often. To me she is and always will be a princess. The princess who touched my heart when I needed it and taught me that it is okay to show a bit of vulnerability as a parent.

Maria Peth is the mother of two, married 30 years, certified Angel Therapist, Spiritual Life coach, teacher, writer. Offering Inspiration for your Life, and guidance for your Soul. 


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