Am I doing this right? What else could I be doing? Is everyone else this tired? Overwhelmed? Overjoyed? Underwhelmed? When will I be simply “whelmed” again?
If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions, you are a parent. My hats off to you. My best friend and I always say that before we were parents we were really good at parenting children. My knowledge on the subject of parenting seemed so vast and simple, I thought, “psh this parenting thing will be easy. Any idiot could do it!”
Fast forward to parenting today and I am that idiot. And as that idiot, I would like to bestow on you some nuggets of wisdom from my parenting journey thus far.
This is a unicorn. Parents of kids who have a rough time sleeping–I feel you. Everyone will tell you all the things about getting your precious bundle of diapers to sleep but I am here to tell you, no two children are alike. I’m a heavy sleeper and my husband is a light sleeper. Before we had kids I could sleep through anything. Brian? The guy is up ever two hours peeing or freaking out because he thinks snakes are in our bed. He’s a terrible sleeper. Sometimes people are “bad at sleeping.” Your kids are no different. If they have a hard time sleeping, that’s on them. Go with God, Billy. Please leave my house when you’re 18 so I don’t have to deal with you waking up screaming about what fluffy you’ve lost in the middle of the night (scenario specific to my dear, sweet middle child).
Babies and activities. Kids and activities. Youth and activities. Don’t get me wrong, I love being active. Working out and book club and service are all integral to my sunny disposition. Friends, I have to be honest, our kids will be just fine if we don’t fill every single second of their day with something to do. My oldest’s new favorite phrase? “I’m so bored!” Wanna know my response? “Good!” Be bored! It’s cool to be bored. Sometimes boredom breeds something called creativity. There seems to be this standard now that if our kids aren’t prodigies by the age of 5, they won’t make it into Harvard Law. I’ve got news for us: most of our kids won’t make it there. I think my kids are geniuses and then they run into the screen door or pick their nose and then put their boogers on the walls. Let them play, yes, keep them active, yes. But you don’t have to live up to this myth that they’ll be missing out on something if they’re bored or uninvolved.
Does anyone leave the doctor’s office and think, “I’m so glad I have all of this information.” And at the same time think, “I wish I had less information?” This is me all of the time. Now hear me, I love modern medicine and all it’s done to prevent all of the things. I think they take a very proactive approach doing early screenings for developmental delays and catching diseases and illnesses. But, quite honestly, it can be a bit much. It seems so many of us young parents are worried about milestones that we forget milestones typically happen naturally. I remember feeling so concerned with my oldest, a little concerned with my middle, and now I’m pushing my youngest down because I know that as soon as she walks it’s all over. My point here? Don’t get too bent out of shape if your kid isn’t hitting milestones they “should be” quite yet. I still wonder when I will receive my fine motor skills (spoiler alert: never!). And it’s okay. If they have a delay? It’s okay. A special need? It’s okay. One of our children breezed through milestones and now we are realizing there might be a special need there. It’s hard, yeah, but guess what? It’s okay!
Are you feeding your kids? Great job! Gold star! Way to meet the basic needs of your precious little spawn.
The best thing you can do for yourself is have a good sense of humor and find your people. Parenting is the most humbling thing I have ever done. The more kids I have, the more I learn. There will be lots of unsolicited advice on any and everything you choose to do, so find people you trust to go to and make sure they are good LISTENERS. I typically recommend people who are near your life stage and then parents of older children. You need both commiseration and wisdom as you go through this parenting journey. As always, and I’m certainly learning this, too, we need to extend parents less judgment and more grace. Remember you owe that to yourself, too!