The hardest job I’ve ever had has been becoming a mother. Don’t get me wrong, it has been the most wonderful gift, but definitely the hardest. Children don’t come with rule books or an owner’s manual. Not all the advice you get from others will be solid for your child because every child is different; what works for some may not work for others and no one is a professional at parenting. However, people will force their child-raising advice on you, especially those who have never had children (insert huge eye roll). I used to be one of those people who thought that I knew how things would go when I had a baby. HA! Boy, was I ever so wrong, and so are the rest of the no children-having parents. Having children is a hands-on job; something that can only be learned by actually doing it. It is a learning and growing experience that you both love and despise along the way.
Nothing could have prepared me during my pregnancy for what I would experience when I gave birth to Lauren. When the nurses placed that tiny, crying baby into my arms, I felt brand new… as if I had become another person. In a sense, I did become another person because I became a better person for her. My world was now centered around this tiny human. Trying to balance out everyday life with a newborn took some getting used to even with the amazing support system I had. She slept great, so that was never a problem (sorry to the millions of moms with horrible sleepers), but I’m sure the universe is going to give me a crier the next time around just because I had it so easy with her. Even though she was truly an easy baby, I still struggled. Postpartum kicked in when I wasn’t able to breastfeed her because it was huge on my list of wants. I developed anxiety and had my first anxiety attack in the middle aisle of a grocery store. I was completely not myself, and my brain was telling me that my baby would starve because the store had changed things around and I couldn’t find the baby formula!
Going back to work brought on a ton of other worries. Will she forget that I’m her mother since she’ll be with someone else eight hours of the day? What if she doesn’t want to come to me when I get there to pick her up? My mind is always on if she’s being mistreated, or if anything has happened to her since she can’t fully tell me everything that’s going on yet. I have to literally stop my brain by meditating and praying on it… SHE WILL BE FINE! I just need to continue to trust that God has her covered and that she will always be okay. She’s ridiculously smart for her age so when she does explain things to me, I make sure to ask questions first before I blow up because mama bear don’t play when it comes to her baby.
Her being so smart is a whole other ball game to this parenting stuff. This little strong willed, smart, sassy thing has me questioning having other children some days because she can really give me a run for my money! It seems like when she turned two-years-old, something clicked in her head which has made it the most difficult stage so far (apparently the threenager stage isn’t much better, so I better strap on my boots). I try to be understanding of that fact that at her age, she isn’t rational and runs on pure emotion. For the most part, that emotion is happiness but when she’s upset, the drama kicks in. The girl could win an Oscar for her acting skills!
Discipline has to be the hardest thing for me and has me questioning my parenting. Are time-outs right? Is spanking right? I remember before having her, if I would see a mom in the grocery store and her child is crying their heart out and they are practically dragging them through the store, my nose would turn up. Now when I see that, I want to hug the mom, or at least hold up the hand signal from The Hunger Games from a distance. I find myself talking with an elevated voice more often then I’d like to because this child just doesn’t listen! I speak to her a million times a day about the same exact things, and the moment I get down to eye level with her to finally say, “That’s ENOUGH,” she cries like someone stole her cat, if she had a cat. Then I feel like the bad guy… like the asshole who made the toddler cry, when in actuality, toddlers are the true assholes. There are times when she’s not listening, and I’m sitting there thinking about what I am doing wrong for her not to listen. Instead of thinking this way, I need to remember that she is learning and growing into the tinier version of the independent woman I’m praying to raise.
I do want her to be strong-willed. I do want her to be independent. I do want her to be sassy and smart and all of the things that she already is because I feel that’s the formula to being a wonderful person. But Lord help my nerves in the meantime! I may look like I have it together, and I can honestly say that I try every day, but most days I am hanging on by the thinnest nerve in my body. And that’s totally okay because as she is growing, I am growing. As she is learning, I am learning. She’s two-and-a-half years into this life, and so am I. We have a long time to figure it out together.