Monday, May 2, 2016

On Parenting

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for more than five minutes that my transition to life with two kiddos has been... challenging. Especially since I went back to work in March. Things have gotten better since my busy season at work ended on April 15th, but I still feel like there are too many days when I feel hectic and frazzled from start to finish.


A couple weeks ago I read This Stage of Life? It's Hard by Hayley Hengst from the Austin Moms Blog, and since then I've read it at least a dozen more times. It is so EXACTLY how I feel. Both in ways that I was aware of (like feeling constantly overwhelmed) and in ways that I hadn't yet put into words (like the stress of having countless, endless decisions to make).

This is such a first world problem, but I do think it's stressful to be constantly presented with a dozen (or more) options for any given decision I have to make related to the kids, along with the pressure that I have to make the RIGHT choice. I'm embarrassed to admit how many hours I spend searching, comparing, and reading reviews on Amazon to pick, for example, the exact perfect rainbow stacker toy. Maybe the lesson here for me is to distinguish between choices that matter and choices that really don't have much impact in the grand scheme.

Sometimes I wonder about what life was like for my grandma, or great-grandma, when they had young children. Did they feel this way? I kinda think not. Maybe it's that 100 years ago, people didn't expect life to be easy. They had bigger problems than picking the exact perfect rainbow stacker toy. My grandma, for example, was one of twelve siblings who moved from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression. I imagine that she did her fair share of taking care of younger siblings, so that having three babies of her own (by age 25!) wasn't a major lifestyle change.

Whereas nowadays, children (including myself) grow up with more free time, less responsibility, more privilege, less consequences, than ever before in history. It feels like a big shock after 25-30 years of doing whatever we want most of the time to suddenly be 100% 24/7 responsible for these little humans, with all the attendant sacrifice and frustration.

This smile makes it all worth it!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'd like to go back to an earlier era. I'm certainly glad I didn't leave school at age 12 to go work in the coal mine. I love my Amazon Prime. I generally describe my childhood as "idyllic." But sometimes I wonder... Are we facing new challenges as 21st-century parents? Or has it always been this hard?

Maybe the difference is that in the past we didn't analyze (and in my case, complain) so much. Maybe I need to adopt a pioneer mentality and just do what need to be done. Grit through the tough moments (which for me often means, for example, Friday morning when ALL I wanted to do was blow-dry my hair but Abel wouldn't settle for his nap and Swede followed me around crying "I need to be the baby! I need to be the baby!" which is retrospect isn't that bad, and I can't believe now that I let it ruin my day to the extent it did) and cherish the good moments.

Because there are SO many little lovely moments scattered throughout each and every day. Because this is "the stage [of life] where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to." These words are so true, and bring a tear to my eye every time I read them!


I've been catching myself more often lately, in these moments, and realizing: "THIS. This is it. This is what you've been waiting for."

8 comments:

  1. Yes! I say that to myself daily "these are the days" because one day I'll miss these days, the craziness and all. I think we live in a society now that has way too much pressure to always do the right thing, when there might never be a right thing to do. I rarely go into the internet to look up things since I know it's a rabbit hole of info lol! Though it's very tempting. Bit trust your instincts. You're a great mom!

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    1. Agreed on looking things up on the internet! Oh boy, That is a surefire way to think I'm doing it all wrong. There is just so much information and so many different strategies. We're all just doing the best we can!

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  2. Agreed! I get myself so overworked and stressed about such little things that it clouds the big picture!

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    1. One of my strategies recently to keep the big picture in mind is to think about how I want the kids to remember me. Like when they are adults, thinking back on childhood, what will they say I was like???

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  3. I've thought about "these days" a lot, too. I look at how my niece and nephew are growing up versus what life was like for me as a child - and we are literally worlds apart. Social media is definitely a double-edged sword - it allows us to stay in better contact, but it also exposes us to a lot more negativity, too. Cheers to taking those special moments to reflect on the simple joys of life during this very special time in you/your childrens' lives!!!

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    1. OMG, Yes! Life is SO different now than when I was a child, and even a teenager & early adult. I made it through college without FB and didn't have a cell phone until I was 25!

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  4. I loved this post. I can relate and I think of these same things all the time. How did our parents or grandparents do it? And most of them had WAY more kids than I'll ever have! But then I think of life back then...my mom often reminds me of how isolating life was when I was a baby. There were no cell phones, no internet, no "mommy dates", it was just her and me (and then my sister and brother). You talked to people on the actual wall phone, but that was it. So she had no choice but to just get through the days. No distractions made it easier in a sense, but also harder, because the aloneness was palpable at times.

    Parenthood is hard, every day is different, and I so get that! I've let silly things almost ruin my day too. Hindsight is a bit of a bitch. I think we're all doing the best we can, you included! I love that quote you quoted - a great reminder when we're having a tough day. xo

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    1. My mom tells me all the time how hard the early years were with me & my brother (18 months apart). But I think before the Internets it wasn't talked about as much so you just soldiered through it. Nowadays being part of the online community is SO helpful (to know that you're not alone) but also I think it keeps these issues & ideas in our thoughts more often. We are more introspective, more analytical... Maybe to a fault sometimes! Gotta find that elusive balance!

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