Parenting is Hard
Parenting is hard. Like, hard. There is so much advice thrown at you when you're pregnant (I don't like the word expecting - it's not hopeful. It's like you're expecting to have a baby, but you're not sure) on what to bring to the hospital, what to buy for the baby, how to keep them alive in those first few months. But, what then? What comes after those first few months. I always found it strange how people would rush to open the door for me when I was pregnant with two free hands, but when I was carrying a newborn and a diaper bag with zero free hands - crickets. You're on your own now. One of my biggest comforts has always been the realization of how much do you really remember before the age of 5? There's a little grace period in there. A trial run, if you will. We joke with our oldest that he was our guinea pig, so we will pay for half his therapy. We may all end up needing it.
It's a strange scenario, if you think about it. We find a human who we think is cute and we do stuff with them. That relationship grows from someone we can tolerate to someone we cannot live without, so we marry them. We then have mini versions of ourselves. One has his personality, one has mine, and one we are not so sure about. And, while the love is instantaneous and unconditional the second we see the little person with a face like an angry raisin, we now have one more player in this game of life.
Adding that extra opinion, more interests, more activities, and more bathroom time to add to the bunch has it's challenges. It is apparent daily that these little love bundles of mine did not get to choose to live together like my man and I did. So, I try to think of that now when witnessing their interactions. I try to show more grace when I think of how I would feel if I had to make it work living with someone I did not choose to. Let's be honest. It can even be a challenge to live with the person you did choose sometimes. (Love you, handsome!) And, while they do have their disagreements, they do very well together. I am very thankful that despite the enormous age gap between my kiddos, they are very close and enjoy each other's company.
I've recently realized that my patience goes away quicker the more words I needed to use. I don't mind talking, but as a natural introvert, I don't love to use a ton of words. So, when I have to waste those words with repeating myself, my patience-o-meter goes down a few notches. For example "Don't slam the door", "Don't play on the stairs", "Chew with your mouth closed", "Did you brush your hair", "leave your sister alone", "Did you brush your teeth", "what is that smell" are said multiple times a day. I almost wonder if the kids have built up some sort of immunity to them and that's why they don't hear them anymore. Let me just say that consistency pays off. The benefit of having my kids so spread apart is knowing that the things we stuck to and repeated ourselves on have made for one pretty amazing fully grown human (18) and two amazing half grown humans (12 and 5).
Bryan and I have a few main rules that help us navigate through parenting together with our vastly different personalities.
1. We don't enforce a punishment until we have talked to each other. He is so very logical and I am a dreamer. I may see it as no video games tonight, and he's ready to ground them for two weeks. We find something we both agree on and deliver the news together.
2. We don't argue in front of them. Every now and then there will be the start of one and we need to say "We will talk about this later", but overall, we present a united front. Despite our differing opinions.
3. We help each other. We try to alternate on whose turn it is for baths, teeth brushing, homework doing, etc. But, sometimes there are nights where I have more projects going on or he had to work later. Parenting needs to always be at 100%, but it will not always be split 50/50. Sometimes one of us will have to step up more, and that's ok.
4. We apologize. Often. When I yell at one of them because my patience escaped me, I apologize. I do let them know if what I said was right, but that they mean too much to me for me to say it in that way. I am so very thankful that my kids get to have a Dad who also apologizes. Not only to them, but to me too. What a great example they have. The boys on what kind of father and husband to be, and Emmie for what to look for in a guy. I cannot wait for the day that they realize that not all men are created equal in this way.
So, through all of the stresses and sleepless nights wondering how much good I am doing, or if I am doing the right thing, I am so very thankful for these people. I love them more than they'll ever know and am endlessly thankful to be their Mama. My cup runneth over.