As a parent I rarely know what I’m doing. It’s pretty much trial and error with a few natural consequences and some hard lessons in between. I had to confess this morning to my dear, sweet sister in law that I had yelled at K because she was constantly kicking me as I was dressing at her. As “stop it” flew out of my mouth in a tone that it shouldn’t have been, I held it together knowing full well anything could set off the water works of tears realizing that my sweet little girl had frustrated me and I let me own emotions take over my tone. Spare me the judgment. I was assured it wasn’t the last time I’ll raise my voice at K but I pray to the good Lord above that it was.
Maybe you want to stop reading here. I’m a mama who screws up. I don’t think she’ll be traumatized by my letting her have dessert daily or running around barefoot but on the off chance I’m wrong then I’ll take up my apologies with my daughter. In the mean time I’m asking for God to lengthen my tolerance level and help me recognize when I’m nearing a breaking point and need a few moments to just breathe. It’s difficult to admit that I give parenting advice knowing full well I don’t always use my own suggestions. I’m a work in progress and my prayer is that as K grows up she loves me regardless of my failures and focuses on my successes.
On to the point of today’s blog:
Immediately after delivery-or anytime thereafter you may not bond with, resent, feel helpless, be plagued with extreme fear and anxiety with your child. A week after K was born and she was home out of the NICU the floodgates opened. I was certain she was going to asphyxiate on spit up and die. My perfect mother in law/father on law bought us a video monitor to ease my mind. Their intentions were spot on but ramped up my fear. I’d sleep at the foot of my bed with my hand on her stomach watching the monitor waiting for her to go be with the Lord. I finally had to trust God’s plan for my daughter and accept no monitor or unrested mama was gonna stop Him from taking her home if He wanted.
It took several months…and likely more than a year if I’m being honest…to really connect with my daughter.I didn’t “feel” like a mom. I was her sitter who was basically on suicide watch ensuring her adventures didn’t harm her.I quit a job I adored to do what I felt was the right thing-stay home. My days of updating Treatment Plans, leading staff meetings, and preparing curriculum were replaced with laundry, bottle washing, and having Ellen play in the background while dusting furniture. My abilities as mother were wavering. I compared myself to what the Internet said K should be doing and the Facebook pictures of my friends whose kids were talking/crawling/walking/reciting the Pythagorean theorem. K was advanced in all departments by comparison but I wanted her to be even MORE advanced. She needed Toms, a matching bow, and impeccable manners because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the basis by which I parented for a long time and it is largely skewed. I’m so thankful my comparing my child to others has diminished greatly over time (though I still think she needs a pair of Toms for the spring regardless of her three pairs of Nike’s.) How awful of me to think that my child could be in any way “less than.” What lie was I believing? Why was the world defining my abilities as a parent and my child’s ability at being, well, a child? Clearly K needed more time with other kids and to be away from me to be a well adjusted member of society so a job I got and playgroups I scheduled more frequently. All this did was stress me out and make me a lazier housewife. Our balance has become more even but I tell ya what, that jealousy monster is an ugly green thing that really should dig a hole and die.
There’s gonna be days you just can’t stay in the house…and there’s days that you can’t imagine leaving it. When we relocated I was perfectly primped ready for an evening out the minute my husband came through the door. I needed adult interaction. I needed friends. I needed OUT. I’m too Type A and too scatterbrained to stay in the house for longer than an episode of Once Upon A Time. I feel restricted and otherwise uneasy spending that much time at home. Eventually I made a daily schedule so K had adequate nap time, story time, free play, and learning but that went out the window soon thereafter. Keeping my kid on a rigid schedule stressed me out and she never wanted to do music in the afternoon, she preferred being loud by 8AM. We had to learn each other and find a cohesive way to spend 10 hours a day 5 days a week together. I’m confident in saying it was as much of an adjustment for her going from Nonna’s house with undivided attention to my home with me hauling her off to Target, the store, and any other place known to man that was not our home. It’s a good thing I’ve got such a trooper. Love that little girl.
I was blissfully ignorant to the notion that she may not always be an epic sleeper. As a newborn until fairly recently she has quickly self soothed, took exceptional naps, and slept 11 hours at night. As of last night she’s reverted to being worse than when we brought her home. My thought is that she’s sadly inherited her mother’s anxiety and has a genuine fear of being alone. Trying to convince my princess that everything will be OK even if she’s alone in her room for many hours in the dark has single handedly been the most difficult hiccup in our journey. It’s devastating to feel helpless knowing your kiddo is terrified of something that once was her claim to baby fame. I’m learning all over again how to survive on minimal sleep and excessive caffeine.
Finally, I didn’t know how much more K would prefer Chris over me. I think she’s a little burnt out on her time with me but I’m so thankful that she has a daddy that models what it means to be Christ-following, loving, and generally compassionate man. I’m blessed. This makes the times she actually wants to cuddle or play with me significantly more meaningful. I know she loves me and really loves me when I let her help me bake or go on walks.
I’m really encouraged to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have it all figured out. There’s no “one size fits all” way to parent and if nothing else, I’m thankful my child is as unique as I am. She’s such a hyper yet classy little lady that I feel so honored to be given the gift to help mold and shape into the woman God has planned for her to be. The enormity of that blessing is settling in over time and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.