Thursday 16 July 2020

This is just a stage.

Parenting is hard.

I was 30 years old when I had Liam and 32 when I had Katie. I had been married for over 5 years at that point, had been to University and College and had various jobs. I had always wanted kids – when I thought of my future it always included children. Plus I loved kids – I worked with them, volunteered with them, spend a lot of time with my younger cousins all throughout their childhood – I thought I was prepared for motherhood. But I wasn’t….

The sleepless nights, the worries & fear, teething, sickness, sleep regression, tantrums, daycare transitions, night terrors, terrible twos, biting, big emotions, epic meltdowns – the list is endless. And that was just with one kid. Going from one to two with only 2.5 years between them, made life even harder. Suddenly you are transitioning to having two kids, trying to help the older one adapt to the new baby, and going through all of the above at different times. Plus for those first few weeks you have all the post-partum pain and emotions going on, so that just makes it worse. It’s a lot.

Maybe motherhood and all it entails comes more natural to some people. I am sure there are supermoms out there that handle all of the previously mentioned aspects with ease and grace. Who find everyday, every struggle and every stage easy. I try to roll with it all. I try to keep calm during the harder aspects and not let it overwhelm me or get to me.  But sometimes it does. Tonight was one of those nights. It was a long day, I was exhausted and feeling crappy – and by dinner I was counting down the hours until bedtime. But bedtime wasn’t easy tonight – bedtime was drama, drama, drama. When I was putting Katie to bed, Liam was calling for me. When I was putting Liam to bed, Katie was crying for me. (Note – my husband works nights and leaves for work before bedtime – so 5 nights a week I am on my own for bedtime). For the next hour I was going back and forth between their rooms. Katie is teething badly (her molars are coming in) so she needed pain meds. Liam was upset that a glow in the dark star from his ceiling fell down. Katie needed cuddles due to the pain. Liam was upset about his light being left on. Katie lost her pacifier. Liam hurt his finger – it was never ending. 

When I first had Liam, the local Early Years Center ran a drop-in program called “Mindful Mamas”. Basically it was an hour-long timeslot once a week where new moms (I think it was aimed at moms of babies who were 0-12months) could drop in and connect with the leaders and other moms. Sometimes there was a specific topic but other times it was more open – going in whatever direction the moms that day wanted. It was led by some wonderful women – and was something I really enjoyed attending.  I found it helpful – not only to make connections with other moms – but for the reassurance it provided. I got to see that I wasn’t the only mom feeling overwhelmed, or with a ton of questions, or with some various concern. I got to raise those questions and concerns and get feedback, while providing my own input on other topics. It was an amazing resource for new moms and I was sad it was no longer running when I had Katie.

I don’t remember all the specific topics covered in the times I attended the program – it’s been over four years so I can only recall snippets here and there. But there is one thing I do remember – a piece of advice from the leaders that I took away and try and keep with me daily.

This is just a stage.

I can’t recall what topic brought up this advice – maybe it was teething, or sleep regression – but it was something that some of the moms were struggling with that day. And the leader made a point to remind us that almost everything in parenting is a stage. The stage can last a few days, a few weeks, a few months – maybe even in some cases years – but eventually that stage will end. And at some point you may even look back and miss that stage in some way. So her advice was to try not to be overwhelmed by these stages and try not to wish them away. Because while you are wishing away the teething, and then the sleep regressions, and then the terrible twos, and so on– your child is growing up and time is passing. So when things are hard, just take a deep breath, remind yourself it is a stage and won’t last forever, and focus on the good.

I honestly think that piece of advice is probably the best advice I ever got as a new mom. And while sometimes in the stress of a moment or day, it’s easy to forget that advice – I really try and keep it in mind.  

So after bedtime was finally over and I finally had a few moments of peace – I reframed my thinking and reminded myself that:

  • Liam eventually stopped teething and Katie will too.
  • Liam eventually slept through the night – and then every night– and Katie will too.
  • There will be a time that Liam won’t want or need me when he gets hurt – but I am lucky that day isn’t here yet.
  • That Katie cuddles are rare and worth every second because they also won’t last forever.
  • Despite the exhaustion and crappiness I am feeling, being a mom is the best feeling in the world and I am so lucky they still want me to tuck them in, read them stories and spend time with them.

So yes, parenting is hard. I am often overwhelmed and exhausted. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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