Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Parenting is tough, but I'm admitting it

The New Year can be a difficult time for some people, and this seems to be the case for me this year.  We had some wonderful things happen to our family in 2013: the birth of our second child and the celebration of six years of marriage.  We also faced many struggles this year: the death of my aunt, my Dad's diagnosis and treatment for cancer, and our baby's diagnosis with eczema and food allergies. The entire family has really tried to keep in good spirits despite some tough events that occurred this year.  But as we ended 2013, I felt slightly unsettled about not addressing the fact that this year was really hard and I'm looking forward to starting a new chapter.

One of the hardest things for me to acknowledge this year was that I often felt overwhelmed by being a second-time parent.  Parenting a child demands patience, persistence, and maybe a little bit of insanity.  Kids are messy, emotional, irrational, and needy.  Some days I pause and wonder if I am really cut-out to be a parent. Then I talk with other moms and I realize that they are going through the same self-doubt and frustrations that I am.  For some reason, no one likes to admit they are struggling and not loving every moment of parenthood.  So this is me confessing that there are moments where I really struggle with my role as a mom.  I want to do better, appreciate more, worry less, and be more transparent about how I feel.  It only makes me feel more isolated from other parents when I try to create the illusion of a perfect family.

Another thing that was unsettling about this year was the realization that my husband and I need to take more time to be together.  We're both wonderful about taking time to ourselves: we're always busy with self-study courses or hobbies. We both enjoy being with the kids and we spend a lot of time investing in their development and learning. However, we are six and a half years into our marriage and we haven't had a weekend (or even day) trip with just the two of us since our honeymoon.  There is something about hitting the road with your significant other that opens you both up to unexpected conversations and an opportunity to learn something new about the person you love.  Minimally we need to seize opportunities for more date nights and spend more time with other young couples.  Becoming a parent has certainly changed my marriage and I don't want parenting to become an excuse for not investing in a great relationship.

I guess I should end this by posting a big list of things I should do differently in 2014, but I'm not going to do that.  This year I want to embrace spontaneity and just take things as they come. I'm definitely not pretending that I have things all figured out.  I'm still learning about parenting, marriage, and life, and I know that every struggle is an opportunity to grow.  How are you planning on being more transparent in 2014?

5 comments:

  1. It really is tough. I didn't become a second time parent until my oldest was a month shy of 11 years old. I had forgotten a LOT in that time. It's been hard dealing with a high needs toddler and a moody teenager at the same time, too. I love these boys to death, but there are days when I really need a vacation and I admit that my marriage has also taken a back seat. I think it's normal but I need to work on that, too. We're in desperate need of a date night...or ten.

    I can't imagine adding the other stuff you've dealt with this year. It's a lot on your plate.

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  2. i love the frankness and simplicity of your post. few grand words, only simple truths. we're not all perfect. spending time with family doesn't always mean all together. creating opportunity out of hardship. i can only hope to do all the things you've mentioned here.

    my recommendation for day-trips or whatnot with just you and the hubs: take a day or even just half a day off work and leave the kids in daycare. meet up for lunch, check out a museum or seomthing, spend time together and don't worry about the kiddos for a little while. we've done this once or twice as opportunities arose and it's been very nice. cheaper than a babysitter (in that you're paying for it anyways) depending on how much you value your vacation time from work. or maybe, if one of you is sick, have the other drop off the kiddos and then come home to play nurse. nothing like being cared for by someone who chose to love you unconditionally.

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    1. Amy, great tips! My husband and I usually do a trip to the state fair with just the two of us. We drop the kids off at daycare and then spend the day wandering and eating fair foods. This year we decided to bring the kids along to the fair, so we missed that opportunity for some time alone. I think there is a tough balance between giving your kids new experiences with the family, and saying "Forget the kids, let's just take a day for ourselves." As two working parents, we often struggle with when to include the kids and when to exclude them from activities and outings.

      Another goal for me is to find a reliable babysitter for our kids. We realized that we can't rely only on our parents for help with date nights: be it their health or work schedules, it's not easy for them to watch two youngsters. Although it's difficult to leave your children with any caregiver, it is especially difficult when you have to add, "Oh, and here's my son's epi-pen. Good luck!" But again, we can make a million excuses for NOT taking the time away and that is equally dangerous.

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  3. I can totally relate to this! I am starting my year by planning on being in the moment more and worrying less about what comes next. I am also learning about meditation.

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  4. yes yes yes.
    I love this post.
    It's so true.
    I'm right there with you.
    I love my babes to bits and pieces but man some days are hard.
    Hang in there! You're not alone!

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