This whole article in the New Yorker thing got me thinking existentially about parenthood realities and expectations. I mean, the greatest thing that's ever happened to you is also the hardest thing you've ever experienced? Seems weird, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
It's a digression, but I have to tell you, my PFB (Precious First Born) and I had a DOOZY of a day today, which ended with me having to physically hold his bedroom door closed for 20 minutes so he would stay in. He was on the other side screaming and throwing heavy object at the door and trying to get out. This was the culmination of a 45 minute battle of the wills over a 30 minute quiet time. I know. Irony much? See, when PFB doesn't want to be in time-out or quiet time, he just walks straight out of his room and defiantly tells you he won't be doing quiet time. Ever. And/or he climbs up on the dresser, removes the wall clock and changes it to show the exact time you've told him quiet time will be over, brings it in to you without realizing his fingers currently fiddling with the changer-thing on the back are betraying his covert op. And when you express disbelief in his truthfulness, he falls to the ground and screams at your disloyal love that would doubt his honesty. And when you (near the beginning of the battle when you are still calm and) tell him that the Wii-motes will be in timeout for 24 hours if he's not in his room in 30 seconds, he pushes you aside, runs into the living room and grabs the Wii-motes, running out the front door into the street declaring that you will never, ever get them. And then, after the 20 minute tug-of-war on the door knob, PFB exits the room like nothing ever happened. And then? PSB awakes screaming from her 49 minutes nap. So, yeah, I'm going to stick with "hardest job ever."
But THAT experience, on top of the processing I did in my last post, got me thinking about survival. This is a season in my life that will be gone sooner than I think. And even after a day like today, you might think I'd be glad. But I KNOW I'm going to be heartbroken when I no longer have itty-bitties in my home and in my arms. I don't want just to survive, but to thrive! So I started mentally cataloging things that have helped me, or things that I do when I'm on my game that I want to try to do more often. We'll make it a handy-dandy Brazenmommy's Survival Tips.
1) Find support.
Swallow your pride and ask for help. Find mamas who are in the same stage of life as you, who have had children with similar temperaments, etc. Ask hubby or grandma or auntie or a friend to please take the sweet little darlings out of your site for an hour or two so you can regain sanity. Get an intimate group of women with whom you can be totally honest, and don't forget to listen and encourage them as well.
2) Have balance, but choose to be positive.
I know I always appreciate hearing a "keepin' it real" story from another mom about a rought situation or day. It makes me feel like my kids and I are not total crazies. And I need those initmate friends that I can come to when things get BAD. But when other mamas are constantly being negative about parenthood, their children, their husbands, their prison-sentence/stay-at-home-ness, it really drags me down. I'd rather laugh a little about the insanity, then talk about how lucky we are.
3)Find something for yourself.
Blog. Make cupcakes. Sing in the choir. Get a pedicure. Read a novel. Grab a drink with a friend. GO ON A DATE WITH YOUR HUSBAND. Audition for a local musical. Get a part-time job. Whatever it is that will fuel your mind and body, make sure you have something to focus on other than child-rearing every once in a while.
4)Look at the big picture.
Someday, I will frame this quote on my wall: "The days pass slowly, but the years pass quickly." That sums it up for me! One of my favorite ways to get perspective is to glance at old pictures--and by "old" I mean a couple years old when my kids were babies. It reminds me how fast the time goes! It also reminds me how blessed I am. I also play a dangerous game with my mind and imagine what it would be like if one of my kids became very ill. Wouldn't I SO not care about the pee on the floor by the toilet? Wouldn't I be so much more patient with their squabbles? You may think I'm weird, but that little exercise slaps me a dose of reality and it's good.
Although I'd rather read a good novel, I also really appreciate when I find a good parenting book. One I loved was Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. I'm also re-reading Love and Logic for Early Childhood. (See mom? I do take your advice sometimes! She told me to re-read it.) I've got Strong-Willed Child sitting on my night-stand, on-deck. Please share in the comments if you've read one that you'd recommend. Nobody has all the answers and all children/parents are different, but it never hurts to seek out some professional help.
6)Build your faith.
Lord help me. Seriously. It is by the grace of God that I make it through each day. It is by the grace of God my children make it through the day sometimes. Whether it's worship music in the car, Scriptures in my wallet, a Bible study I am committed to...whatever I can manage in any given week, I can tell the difference it makes in me and in my parenting. I'm not sure if the Bible was referring to a child throwing a Buzz Lightyear at you when it says "He will not give you more than you can handle," but I'm taking it. I can handle this. You hear that, Buzz?! I CAN HANDLE THIS!
7)Learn to savor the moments.
Live in the moments. Don't miss these moments. Because they'll be gone before you know it. And we might not forget how hard it was, but we'll know it was worth it.