Sunday, October 18, 2009

Battling Jackson's eating habits hasn't been the only parental frustration we have dealt with in the last 5 years. Parenting is tough. Everyone informs you of the finances, the sleepless nights, the loss of reckless abandonment that comes with parenting. I am sure if you are a parent, you have heard the speech I am referring to from either a friend, a parent, or the random stranger who sees the baby bump and feels compelled to tell you how difficult parenting can be-like you can change your mind at that point! Thanks, mister! But, I am referring to the emotional and, sometimes, physical demands parenting can have on you.
Here is my list of the top 4 toughest things about being a parent:
4) Parenting is icky! Not just the poopy diapers. Although those aren't the most pleasant things to have to deal with! Being a parent has enlightened us to all the disgusting things a body can produce. Sometimes I feel like I have the kind of experience that could land me a job at the CDC. I had to deal with a fungus behind Jackson's ear once. A fungus! I frantically called the pediatric emergency hotline telling them that my son's ear looked like it was going to fall off. The nurse giggled. And, my best piece of advice that I can bestow on young mom's and/or dad's is that when a 2 year old tells you their belly hurts-DO NOT put them on your lap! It is so funny to my husband and I how we can deal with puke in a way that we never thought we could deal with puke. Something that used to be so revolting is now just par for our disgusting course.
3) Working with nocturnal creatures: I am sure you have always heard that kids don't like to go to sleep. I heard it, too. In fact, my parents used to tell the funniest stories about how much my brother and I disliked bedtime. But, until you deal with an actual child who doesn't like sleep, you have no idea the frustrations that can come with bedtime. My sons have a solid political stance on their bedtime rights as human beings. One day, mark my words, Jackson will run for office on the slogan: "Equal bedtime opportunities for all ages. Why should parents be the only ones to stay up late?" And, it isn't just their lack of desire in going to bed. It is their endless amounts of energy that can be frustrating! I think Jackson should be studied, but I am afraid they might find some superhuman gene in his system and genetically mutate it to produce those energy drinks people consume! Wrigley, too! Every night around bath-time he starts to inform us that he is skipping sleep time today. "I not going to sleep today, right mommy?" Really!?!?! It does, however, make me feel good that life is so amazing to them that they don't want to miss one moment by sleeping. Still, I didn't realize I would be raising two owls.
2) Guilt: Raising human beings is such a huge responsibility. No matter what we do, there is always an element of guilt in terms of if we are doing the right thing. All that we do is being observed by them and they are little sponges soaking up everything. So, there is this nagging feeling of guilt when we slip and let our moral judgement be compromised on occasion. Now, please don't think we are bad people. But, realistically, we are not perfect people either and there are times where we say a bad word or gossip or yell at each other or any number of any horrible things. So, when I witness one of them exhibiting behavior that is less than admirable, I always think-did they see me do that? My father always jokes when he does something he doesn't want us to repeat and say, "Do what I say, not what I do". But, unfortunately that doesn't always work. All we can do it our best and hope that they take more good than bad from us as examples.
1) Endless worry: These days there is so much to worry about I think my head may explode. I have heard that it never ends, too. Even when they are 50 I will still worry about them. Their safety, their security, their health, their sanity, their happiness, etc. Sometimes I want to lock them in the house and never let them go into the big, bad world. But, then my mom brings me down to earth (and not for the reasons you think!). Jackson and my husband were off to their first camping trip and my mom told me she was worried about Pythons! PYTHONS!!!! I call her my "chicken little". There is always going to be dangers out there. The worrying will never end, so I might as well just learn to live with it!

In Miley Cyrus fashion, I should probably also include the 4 things I love about being a parent:
4) Smiles and giggles: When we first had Jackson, I was overwhelmed and terrified. My body had just been through a drugless labor and between learning how to breast-feed and sleepless nights, the thought of ever having another baby seemed downright insane! One day during Jackson's first week home, my husband came home to find me sobbing. I told him through the tears that although we had always said we would have 2 kids, I was now happy with just the one. Cut to Jackson's first smile and me telling Adam we could handle a dozen more kids! When the kids began giggling as babies, I did everything but set my hair on fire if I thought I could get a laugh. And even now, at 3 and 5 years old, hearing them laugh is the most unexpected joy. Sometimes I steal a glance in my rearview mirror to find Wrigley looking out his window smiling. At what, I don't know. But, no matter what I am feeling or experiencing that day, I too will begin to smile.
4) Working with my husband: I know that sounds funny. Like parenting is a job. But, it is. Just like any business, decisions have to be made and I am not the only CEO of this organization. We naturally consult on everything. Sometimes I giggle inside about how much thought, research and preparation goes into every little decision we make about the kids. I always think to myself, is this the decision that will send them to therapy one day? Making these decisions with Adam, my husband, has been a lot of fun. He has a different take on things that I have come to appreciate and look to when I am feeling a little crazy. We are very different in our styles, but have found a strong partnership that works. When one of us gets frustrated over dealing with the kids, we "tag" the other person to step in. It keeps the kids on their toes! Sometimes it does backfire on me, though. When I give time-outs, the kids will scream "I want Daddy!". To wipe the grin off Adam's face in those moments, I tell him that the kids know a sucker when they see one:) In all sincerity, I think it is good for the kids to have a balance. They need discipline, of course, but they also need some leniency. I tend to be the tougher of the two, but Adam also lets me be the good guy every once in a while! And for that, I love him!
2) Seeing my parents be Grandparents: I have figured out that being a grandparent is getting to experience the "things I love about being a parent" list without having to deal with the "the things that are tough about parenting" list. They have done their "parenting" time, now they get to soak up all the good stuff and leave the hard stuff to mom and dad. I love, love, love watching them with my kids. They look at my children with such love and fondness and are the few people in the world who are actually anxious to hear about the details of the activities of the kids. Jackson and Wrigley return that love and fondness tenfold. Recently I asked Wrigley and Jackson why they liked going to Mimi and Papa's. They simply replied, "Because they are nice". Of course, the ridiculous amounts of chocolate milk and candy probably don't hurt!
1) Endless Moments: Life, to me, is a series of significant moments. Those times when you force yourself to take it all in. I don't remember everyday of high school, but I do remember certain moments that were significant. A car accident on homecoming, the first Varsity football game I cheered in, the feeling right before we walked on the floor for a competition, the day we skipped school to watch the Bay Hill golf tournament from my trampoline. I remember sounds, smells, feelings from those days and telling myself to remember those things. I don't remember every date my husband and I have been on, but I do remember the moment I knew he would be the man I would marry. Moments. Up until I had kids, those moments seemed few and far between. With kids, those moments are endless. Everyday I stop and compel myself to remember what is like to see them sleeping or the feel of their hugs or the sound of their voices or the glee in their eyes when I am tickling them. Everyday brings new and different moments and I can't wait to experience those moments each worth all the frustrations!


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