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The little ones are in bed, so I am taking this opportunity to write about a topic that I have been thinking about for a while now. I wrote a post a while back about being a stay at home mom and how I was tired of reading blog posts written by women who complain and complain that they have the toughest job in the world. I didn't think that being a stay at home mom was the most difficult job and I expressed my opinion that being a working mom, especially a working mom with younger children at home, was more challenging. Anyways, tonight, I want to write about the most difficult and trying and overwhelming job in the whole wide world. That job is parenting. Being a parent is difficult. This is different than being a stay at home mom or dad, this is all of it. This is being a parent to children. This is the working moms and dads, this is the stay at home moms and dads, this is all of us.
Brinley is two and Adele is just about ten months. Life is busy for myself and for James. It's not a feel sorry for me post, it is a post about how I feel I am as a parent and how perhaps others feel about parenting.
When we had Brinley, everything was new to me. I had changed many diapers over the years, but this was my child's diaper. I was now feeding my baby. I was in charge of this little wee life. This little girl was solely dependent upon her parents for love, nourishment, clothing and a roof over her head. When I think about it, it is incredibly overwhelming. It is by far the most important and time consuming job.......ever.
James returned to work after two weeks and I was scared. I was being left at home with a new baby. I didn't go out a lot. I was worried about taking a baby out of the house and driving somewhere and having her lose her shit, either while driving or wherever we were going. It wasn't out of laziness that I didn't go out much, it was the work and uncertainty around being out with this little being, who I barely knew but I had to do it all. I had to follow her schedule, I had to be on the ball, I needed to figure out the difference between a hurt cry, a hungry cry and a tired cry. I found it easier to be in my home. Parent fail.
When Brinley was four weeks old, I started putting on Baby Einstein. REALLY? At four weeks old, I sat in front of the TV because Baby Einstein was going to make my new baby a genius, only later to find out that research shows that it is detrimental to baby's development. Ok, that was a parent fail. She's only four weeks old and I already failed her at something.
Buy the best toys, that will make her a genius, only to find out that several of them were recalled because of choking hazards and it could catch fire. Parent fail.
We became pregnant with Adele when Brinley was still a baby. I felt absolutely brutal for the first few months and really, all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and whine. I would put Brinley in the exersaucer, the one that has the recalled part and hoped that the Mr. Sunshine didn't whack her in the face. I felt shitty. Parent fail.
When we found out about Adele's diagnosis, part of me felt like I had failed. I'm too old to be having a baby and according to the testing sheet that was given to us, it states that maternal age and my blood results contributed to our unborn baby having Down syndrome. At that moment I felt, parent fail.
My blood pressure was high with both pregnancies. Parent fail.
I was on medication for high blood pressure. Parent fail.
I was on Effexor for both pregnancies. Parent fail.
I had to be induced with Brinley at 37 weeks and Adele at 35 weeks. Parent fail. I wanted to go to full term with both girls. I wanted them to grow and develop as much as they possibly could, but that didn't happen. Parent fail.
I felt like my babies had been let down and they were still so young.
Every day, you question how you are as a parent, the choices that you make, the words that you use, your actions. The days go by so quickly and at the end of the day, you wonder if you made the best possible choices.
When you have your first child, you want absolutely everything to be perfect, the clothes, the nursery, the food, the receiving blankets, the car seat, the stroller, the diapers, the hair accessories, the photo shoots, the swing, the toys, the bouncy chair....the list goes on and on. We spend a fortune on everything because we want our children to have it all. We want them to be the best that they can be and that Aidan and Anais blanket will make my child the best that she can be.
Parenting is crazy hard. All day long, you make choices, you make choices that impact them in that moment and possibly their future as well. You want your children to go to the best schools and will line up at 6:00am, take a number and hope that your child will be accepted. We buy organic food because it's the best, but maybe it's not, we survived, but now there are more chemicals, more dangers. We don't let our children run down the street and there is no way that they can stay out until the street lights come on, there are pedophiles out there.
I don't want to spank or yell at my children, but I've lost my shit. I sure have. I don't know how to reason with a two year old and a ten month old. Now, when I say losing my shit, I am not beating my children, but my voice is loud and I get mad. Yelling does nothing for anybody and it sure doesn't solve the situation. I feel like I fail as a parent when things don't always go smoothly. Parenting is tough.
After having Adele, some of my parenting techniques changed. We had her a month after the flood. That changed how I felt about parenting. Brinley had one sleeper when we made the trek to my parent's house. I didn't care. She was alive and well and we made it out of town safely.
When Adele was in the NICU, I brought her some pretty sleepers, not because I wanted it to look like I was a better parent, I wanted her to know that mommy and daddy will always take care of her. I brought books to the NICU, not because I wanted to look like I was a better parent, I wanted her to hear stories. I wanted to cuddle with her and I wanted her to hear my voice. I would spend as many hours in a day up at the hospital, not because I wanted to look like the better parent, I wanted Adele to know that she was loved, that she was so incredibly important to me and that I will always be there for her. It was a long six weeks. It was trying. I cried a lot. I sometimes felt like I was failing her as a parent. You have to make certain decisions and choices when you have a little one in the hospital, it's tough. I also had another baby at home who needed me. Adele made me change my parenting ways. She honestly has made me slow down. She makes me stop, she makes me look around, she makes me laugh. Adele has something that is so special about her that makes you think about how unimportant some things are and how important others things are....she has changed who I am as a parent. As she continues to grow and get stronger, her personality is also developing. She is funny and she knows it. She attracts people. She makes others look at the world differently. She has made so many lives better, all because she is who she is, this amazing miracle.
This isn't to say that having a child without Down syndrome or a child will special abilities won't make you a better parent. You might have a moment and realize what is truly important. It's just different with Adele. She has made me a better mom to Brinley. There is something about having more than one child. There are lessons that I learned with Brinley. Both my girls continue to make me a better person. They continue to show me that their love is unconditional. It's such a beautiful love.
When we go out now, I have to be honest, I don't care if my kids lose their shit. Why? Well, I know that your kids have lost their shit at some point and it's life. We go out and we have fun. Brinley loves the outdoors and loves to run and play. Routines and schedules are still a big part of our lives. We still have naps and I try hard not to take those away. Kids need sleep. I want to be out. I want them to experience life. I want them to play, laugh and when it comes time for bedtime, I want them to be happy, fulfilled and tired. That makes me a great parent.
I wish that I had a manual, flip to the page and get the answer. I need a manual. Does anybody have a manual? :)
I know that my post today kind of flips around but this is how I feel about parenting. You are here, there and everywhere.
I am just at the start of this parenting journey. I have so many decisions and choices that I will be making for my kids in the future. I will fail many times and apologize and try to make right. I may not always say the right things or deal with situations the way I should, but one thing that I do know, they will be loved, madly and deeply for the rest of their lives.