Motherhood. It certainly has a way of sucking the life out of you doesn't it?
You never really know until you become a mother the range of emotions someone so small can make you feel in a day, a minute, a second. It's enough to make you think you are going crazy! Someone lock me up!
If I am being honest (as I usually am on this little blog of mine), I will say that lately it's been tough being a Mom. I feel like I am questioning myself now more than when I was a new Mom. I truly thought that when my husband and I became parents we would kind of learn as we go, particularly learning the most when they are babies and then kind of glide along and take it one day at a time. Or face a situation and be like oh this happened before, we've got this.
Who wants to go back in time and slap that delusional Mommy? Seriously- I guess I never really thought about it, but it is amazing how many uncharted territories we have to navigate on a daily basis as parents. When Ella started elementary school, there were so many new happenings, new things that we were just like "how the heck do we deal with this?" So many that it was enough to make me realize "oooohhhh so this is what parenting is like- always changing, always learning, always, ALWAYS navigating the unknown." That is what parenting is-navigating the unknown.
Lately it has been a struggle, feeling like I am doing ok, doing a good job. It's so easy, isn't it? To doubt yourself as a parent. You see, Ella has some anxiety issues. She calls it getting "panicked up." I think its her combo of panicked and worked up. Part of her issues (I hate to use the word "issue" because it sounds so negative, but I don't know what other word to use) is that she over analyzes EVERYTHING and worries about EVERYTHING. She thinks of every possible thing that could happen in every situation, both good and bad, and doesn't let it go, and doesn't forget it (another quirk of hers...she remembers every.thing.).
We don't know how this all started, why it started, or even who she gets it from as Ryan and I don't really have major anxiety. Having to deal with her random meltdowns, sobs, defiance when she has these meltdowns is daunting to say the least. Over the last several months it has just been at bed time (no, it's not a tactic to prolong the bedtime process...it's beyond that). I don't know about you, but as soon as the typical bed time routine starts, my patience goes out the window-that, I know doesn't help the situation. Add onto that the fact that we have absolutely no idea what we are doing or how to handle it and all we do is question ourselves. We've tried every parenting angle there is from talking to her calmly, reasoning with her, bribing her (which the doc says is a no-no because it adds pressure on her) to full out yelling, where I end up with a scratchy throat from yelling so loud. Some nights, it ends in tears (my tears...she cries from the get go)- those are the worst, when it gets to the point that you really question yourself as a parent. I'm not talking the "oh if I let her have this lollipop now will I regret it later today?" kind of question. More like "will how I handle this affect her? I'm assuming (hoping...for comforts sake) other parents out there have these kinds of moments where they really question their parenting.
It's these moments that I question myself the most. I am always asking Ryan what we should do, how we should have handled things differently. He has just about as many (or few) answers as I do. All we can do is lean on each other and trust that what we are doing is the right thing. If it's not, then we know for the next time. Because with Ella (and pretty much all children) there is always a next time.
Even with Charlotte, while not as stressful as Ella's anxiety, handling her terrible two's is all new to us. When Ella was her age, you would typically just have to tell her once not to do something and she would listen. Not the case with Charlotte- the complete opposite. You tell her not to do something, she does it again, and again, all while looking at you with the shittiest grin. We constantly find ourselves saying "how do we handle this?" Amazing how different siblings are, isn't it? With Charlotte it's a different kind of stress- more like a frustration than anything. But at the end of the day, you still question yourself, your judgement, your parenting. I will say though, that a lot of the time with Charlotte, we do end up finding ourselves chuckling to each other....how can you NOT laugh when you say "Charlotte are you supposed to hit your sister?" and she looks at you and says "yep." And yes, it's always Charlotte hitting her big sis!
I think the self doubt and question also stems from lack of overall confidence. It's no secret I've talked about it before on my blog, and it is still a struggle, as it is with most women. I hear women all the time that are around my age or older that are like "I've just learned to accept myself the way I am and I have never been better!" Seriously where the hell can I get a sip of her cocktail? Is today the day I will finally accept myself for who I am and learn to love myself the way my husband does, the way God does, the way my friends and family do? If I am being honest, I am about 40 lbs away from feeling that love. It's terrible to think that way, but hey-it's the truth. The disgust in myself totally trickles into how I parent, and I know that's not right. Not one bit. Totally not fair for my girls, or even for Ryan. But I am making my way through this journey of loving myself. And like parenting, I am making mistakes along the way, hitting roadblocks and bumps, but I am getting there.
Parenting is hard stuff, is it not? Some nights, when Ryan and I are sitting on the couch (another tactic we've tried...ignoring) and Ella is in her room screaming and crying louder and louder I think to myself, "I wonder if, when she is all grown up, we will look back on this and laugh with her?" Then another part of me thinks "I wonder if, when she is all grown up, we will look back on this and think that is where we went wrong?" She is learning to navigate her way through life, but so am I, so is my husband. How do you explain that to a 6 year old? I make mistakes, I screw up, I say things, do things that I later regret, but that is all a part of life, right? When I really feel like I have screwed up, I apologize to her. I have plenty of times. I don't know if it makes a difference to her, but I feel better calling myself out and owning when I was wrong, or when I over reacted.
At the end of the day though, in the midst of our screaming, reasoning, punishing, ignoring, it is so hard to tell yourself that you are doing ok. I am doing my best version of ok, the best version for our family. My ok may not be your ok, but that is....ok (no pun intended...swear).
We are all doing ok. Being a Mommy or a Daddy is hands down, the toughest, most stressful job there is. And you don't have a boss (well you kind of do have a boss) that gives you evaluations, reviews, or a pat on the back that says "hey! you are doing a great job!"
So, during our parenting ups and downs, the spit up on our clothes, the time outs, the eye rolls, tantrums, carpooling, back talking, or anxiety meltdowns, remember you are doing ok. I will be the first to admit that it is hard to tell yourself that let alone believe it. But just know we are all in this parenthood thing together. There is another Mommy out there ready to lose her mind just like you, a Mommy who can't remember how many days it has been since she washed her hair, a Mommy (or Daddy) who is this close to breaking down and crying if they have to raise their voice one more time.
I know how easy it is to doubt yourself. But you are doing ok. We're all doing ok.