Sunday, March 18, 2012

Let's Be Honest...

Let's be honest, parenting is hard.

Stay at Home. Career. Unless you are a deadbeat, parenting is tough.

Moms and dads who gush about every moment with their kids being "a blessing and joy" are experiencing a heavy case of selective memory.  This (popular) parenting outlook neglects to mention how gut-wretchingly hard it can be. 

To be clear: I love my child fiercely and unconditionally.  But the intense love of my child does not equate to skipping through each day filled with only giggles and hugs.  

There are moments or days I am completely defeated.  Many times I don't meet the mark of Perfect Parent.  Some Mother of the Year examples are below:
  1. My son has eaten cheese puffs for dinner. Pickles were the "vegetable."
  2. The Five Second Rule is typically extended an extra 10-15. Starting when I see it.
  3. Some days I am happier to see 7:00 pm (bedtime) than 7:00 am (awake time).
  4. Sometimes I go to the bathroom, even when I don't need to. There is a door. With a lock.
  5. The 15-20 minutes Chase happily spends reorganizing the refrigerator is worth the increase of our electricity bills and inability to find produce.
  6. It is easier to wear shoes in the house than spend 95% of my time cleaning the floor.
  7. If a nap is refused, I may lift the "no TV" ban to catch up on a show and fit in a break.
  8. I have claimed Chase pooped on the ride to daycare, knowing full well it happened before we left the house. (Oh no! I think Chase just pooped!)
In the beginning, my goal was to manage the perfect balance of time with child, husband, and friends.  My outfits would be wonderfully accessorized and my body tight.  Our home would be so spotless, people would question whether a child actually lived there. 

Needless to say, this craziness only led to feelings of exhaustion, insecurity, and failure.  Parenting is hard enough with out the extra pressures.  I won't bore you with all my toils (why are toys impossible to wrangle out of packaging?!), but two areas where I struggle most are the guilt of constant decision making and unsolicited input from others.  

Decisions commenced immediately after our child entered the world: bottle or breast?  Ferber or Weissbluth?  And with the never-ending decisions, there comes an overwhelming array of choices.  So I fervently study the options and make a decision.  

Then seconds later I waiver: Will he be unloved at Daycare? Spoiled with a Nanny? Should I ignore the tantrum? Comfort him throughout?  

The self-doubt never seems to end. 

Luckily, if I don't beat myself up enough over my own decisions, some seem to wait in the wings to help out.  Between the competition on developmental milestones and constant scrutiny of other parents, we rarely give each other a break.  For example, the most enraging "advice" I have received was: You can't be both a good parent and a good employee. 

That moment of anger forced me to evaluate why I became so upset and how to best maintain sanity moving forward. 

My main lesson learned is raising a child isn't black and white.  It's mostly gray.  We all choose different methods and timing which work for our family.  This realization helps me learn from others without comparing or judging.  

Another key takeaway for me is: a refreshed and relaxed Mom is a better Mom.  After spending time away, I am patient, enthusiastic, and just in general better to be around.  So I no longer feel guilty for taking time away from my son (and/or husband) in order to recharge. 

So while parenting is hard, I love my (whole) family and continue to treasure the blessings and joys we experience together along the way. 
Irrational Unhappy Moments: With Santa, At the Botanic Gardens, With Mom, and Valentines Day