The Truth about Parenting

For a long time I couldn’t get over the feeling that I wished I could be the aunt to my kids instead of the mom.  The aunt gets to play with the kids and receive love from the kids and teach the kids and almost anything except the hard parts like hanging around for the temper tantrums, making breakfast, lunch, dinner, wiping dirty hands and high chairs, changing stinky diapers (and spraying them if you cloth diaper!), telling toddlers “no” for the hundredth time and having to follow through with some consequence while they scream in your ear; cleaning stains out of dirty clothes, holding a sick child in the middle of the night who is burning up with fever, getting vomited on and having to clean up the mess without freaking out. (the last one is more a problem I have since vomit is my worst nightmare.  I just freeze and don’t know where to begin the cleanup!)  And then there’s the guilt of always wondering if you’re effing your kids up big time.  I think all the parenting books out there do more harm than good by giving you lots of guilt if you don’t do things according to their method.  But they say opposite things!  Attachment parenting vs. cry it out books still give me guilt.  As much as I’d always assumed I’d be doing the whole attachment parenting thing and co-sleeping or rocking my babies to sleep or wearing them all the time, it turns out it doesn’t quite gel with me.  I can’t get any sleep next to a baby because every time they twitch I wake up.  I can’t rock a baby to sleep for an hour because I got other stuff to do and I don’t have the patience.

But aside from the guilt and the difficulties and logistics of being MOM, it’s so very amazing.  I knew I had to stick with it because I wanted to be called “mom”.  I wanted to be the one they turn to when they are hurt or scared or happy or sad.  I wanted their love so much.  Maybe those are selfish reasons.  Yes, of course I want to give them so much love, too.  I want to teach and guide and shape and support them as they grow.  I want them to know Christ.  I want to comfort and nurture their little bodies and minds.  But as a new mother, it was difficult at times to constantly be putting all my efforts into caring for my oldest when he was a baby and not really receive much in return.  I knew at the beginning that I could be replaced at the drop of a hat and it hurt a little.  At times he may have preferred other people over me.  I was in the background, changing him, feeding him, getting up with him all night, but he was too young to pay any attention to that.  He just liked the people who gave him all the fun attention and played with him.  Ironically, my second child was the opposite, but that was difficult in its own way.

All this to say…..it gets better. So so much better.  And my oldest is only 2 1/2.  I have lots more to look forward to.  Lately, both kids have been easier and better behaved.  There’s been a lot more moments that I wish I could freeze.  A camera just doesn’t quite do it justice.  Leo still loves to drive his cars around and line them up.  For a while, I would put Silvia down for a nap in the morning and then lay on the couch and drift off to sleep while he drove his cars on my legs.  He seems like a little boy rather than a toddler when playing with the neighbor girls. They whisper something to him and he whispers back.  He chases them around and plays hide and seek and laughs his little head off.  Sometimes he wakes up from a nap and is still tired and just wants to be held for a while, my big little baby.  He is so helpful and good about sharing with Silvia.  They hand each other their shared sippy cup when they’re finished drinking.  When I’ve gone to put Silvia down for a nap, Leo has brought one of her favorite stuffed animals to give to her knowing she likes to sleep with it.  And when he hears her wake up from a nap he shouts “baby awake!” and runs to open her door.  He sometimes pretends to breastfeed his bunny.  He loves books and will sit and read them for a while.  He loves to jump on his bed and pretend to go night night all throughout the house by dragging his blankets and pillows and dropping them in any room of the house and laying on them.  He easily gives kisses and now enjoys naming people to pray for when he says his night time prayers with Daddy.

Silvia seems to be (at least temporarily) over her hitting and biting phase.  Now she is a lover and wants only to give everyone kisses all the time.  If she is sitting next to Leo, she’ll lean over and kiss his back.  She comes from behind and gives Leo a hug or kiss and then they wrestle and giggle.  She likes to charge after me from several feet away and fall into me with a hug.  When I’m holding her, she gives my arm little kiss-pecks.  She kissed my friend’s arm the other day.  She will kiss any object: a toy, a crayon, a stuffed animal, a magnet, you name it.  She has a big toothy grin and an adorable giggle.  She is getting a little more interested in books, but mostly she will hand you a book and want to sit with you, but then jumps down after the first page to grab another book.  Repeat.  She sometimes tells me when she has to poop by saying “papa” for poopoo and hitting her diaper violently.  When I put her on the potty she smiles and says “pppsssssss” because I was trying to connect that sound with peeing.  When she gets excited, she runs really silly, like she’s being zapped by lightning.

I write out these details as a way to remember.  Pictures and videos can’t communicate the details of the days of the weeks of the months of the years.  Time will pass me by, and I don’t want to look back and think “they were so cute, but I don’t remember what they were like back then.”  I want to remember the good and the bad.  I want to remember the truth.  The hardships, yes, but the joyful moments that so easily soften the rougher edges.  Their isn’t a day that goes by (no matter how trying a day it is) that I don’t thank God for the gift that my children are.  They are little miracles and they fill me with awe.  It might not be love at first sight with me, but I’ve come to love them with all my heart.

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