Issue #1: I am not a patient person and there is nothing you need more as a parent of a toddler then patience. Well, that and a sense of humor. That way by melodramatic meltdown number 83, over something like socks, you have the wherewithal to just start laughing … quietly and to yourself of course. Along the same lines, I don't deal well with lots of loud noises.
Unfortunately, my combination of kids and extrovert husband make this impossible to avoid. When things get loud, my stress increases and when Shawn gets stressed, he just gets loud. (While opposites attract in matters of love and marriage, they are a real bitch when babies are crying.)
Issue #2: Gone are the days where my sole responsibility was merely keeping my child alive. Now I have to parent and discipline … and teach. A teacher I am NOT. And my toddler is already entirely too smart. All parents say that about their kids so I'm not going to elaborate but trust me. The things she says sometimes… Recently I told Shawn I feel like I spend most of my days trying to outsmart a 2-year-old. Combined with my recent bouts of Mama Brain, this is not done with any semblance of confidence. Which leads me to my next point.
Issue #3: Thanks in part to my analytical brain and in part to things I've read, I often strive towards an illogical, overly idyllic realty. So-called storybook expectations do nothing but set me up for failure because I'm aiming for perfection and nothing in life or parenthood is perfect. Raising kids, is, hard! EXCLAMATION POINT. Because I'm new at this, I'm constantly evaluating, constantly reflecting and I don't necessarily trust my reactions and instincts. Yet. This, of course, does me zero good and in fact, only leaves me exhausted. Enter issue #4…
Issue #4: Both myself and my toddler are sleep deprived most of the week and sleep is of the essence to achieving patience. (It's the obligatory viscous cycle.) Lately she's taken to only napping for an hour or so at school so by the time I pick her up, odds are, she's a hot mess. Our ride home can either be extremely entertaining or downright brutal. She'll either happily ask her black sheep over and over and over if they have any wool, or I will get to listen to her wail about wanting something to drink, not wanting what I gave her to drink, not wanting the glass I gave her that something to drink in, not wanting the color of the glass that I gave her that something to drink in…
(Clenched fists, pinched eyes … don't relive it, don't relive it, don't relive it.)
Now, these are not revolutionary observations, obviously. This is not ground-breaking stuff. It's not brain science or rocket surgery. It's not new … it's just new to me. It's the current debacle I find myself in. Well, that and praying my daughter only educates a small number of people about a girls' vagina or a boys' penis, or doesn't necessarily want to see the contents of her diaper on a particularly poopy day, or doesn't need a Kleenex to catch the Nebraska-size-mucus dripping from her nose. Yeah, we keep it classy.
Seriously though, I struggle. I struggle because again, I'm new to all of this and like any self-proclaimed Type A, OCD, overachieving, people-pleasing, control freak, I want to do it "right." I now know this isn't possible. I've really known all along but find myself needing a reminder every now and again. I've very quickly learned there's no "right" way to do anything, especially when it comes to parenting. There's just the best-intented way. That and a lot of hope, faith, trust, confidence and camaraderie.
Camaraderie is what's helped pull me out of the idealized waters I was wading in. To each their own of course but to me, I can no longer take those that publish their lives only focused and reporting on the good. Don't misunderstand, I secretly worship these people. They, and their optimism, are a rare breed and I believe them to be some of the most authentically happy people in the world. They are just not me. (Hi Captain Obvious! Hi Celexa! Hi New Belguim!) I need someone to tell me how a small, microscopic part of them didn't necessarily "like" their child last Tuesday. I need someone to confide that they, too, sometimes have the impulse to chuck their children across the room. I need someone to say out loud that the favorite part of a particular day was when their kids we're all tucked away in bed. Along with all the heart-expanding good moments and my immeasurable amounts of love for my kids, I need some cynicism and wit. Like Carrie Bradshaw once said, "I need my relationship [with my daughters] with a little bit of milk." I can't do happy all the time because things aren't happy all the time.
It's like this episode of Desperate Housewives where Lynette ends up taking her kids ADD medicine to keep up and by the end of the episode she crashes and breaks down in front of the other moms on the block, only to learn that they've all been through it. Her response, through eventual tears, is to request that moms talk about the hard stuff, too. Because it is hard and instead of constantly feeling like other Moms, other parents, are always doing it better—keeping it together, not complaining, relishing in all the joys—I need to know I'm not alone, it is okay, it is hard, it will get better and it does not and will not have any reflection on my love for my family.
You know what else helps? Fucking funny blogs. Like this gem another coworker helped me discover: Ask Your Dad Blog
He's genuine, he's sensitive, he talks about the hard times and even better, he talks to his kid's poop. LOVE. IT. Give it a read, go smooch your chitlins, open that bottle of beer and just be darn proud that you made it through another day of the hardest, but best time of your life. You may not hit a home run today, but it's a mighty fine privilege just to suit up and be a part of the team.
P.S. I'm a good Mama. You're a good Mama. About time we tell each other! Tell a Friend: You Are a Good Mama