January 20, 2012

On Parenting

A friend of mine recently shared this article on parenting which I thought was wonderful. The author basically states that while parenting is incredibly rewarding, it's hard work and it's OK to acknowledge that. One day you will look back and miss those moments/years/times, but that doesn't mean that every day you have to relish in every, single moment. Here's a little excerpt:

"I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain."

I whole heartedly agree. And that, for me, has been one of the surprises of parenting. Not that it would be hard - I figured that much, but I assumed, especially after losing a child, that I would easily be able to relish every.single.moment. Even the tough ones. But ya know what, sometimes I just am tired. Or frustrated. Or overwhelmed. Or all of the above. This was and still is something I struggle with. I'm sure it's typical of most parents to feel this way at some point, but then I have to factor in guilt because I lost a child and should appreciate everything. So if  when I get cranky or stressed, I make it worse by being mad at myself for not being mother of the year 100% of the time. But what I'm learning, and learning to accept, is that I'm not just a mother who lost a child. I'm also a mother of a seven month old who is teething and still trying to decide if he wants to sleep through the night. And I'm learning to accept that it's OK to be tired and be frustrated and that it doesn't change the fact that I love my child more than life itself and it doesn't change the fact that I know, arguably better than some, how precious his life really is. So for now my view on parenting is to try and not get too worked up about things and not take it as a sign of anything other than the fact that I care deeply about my children and my ability to be the best mom I can be, but it doesn't mean being the perfect mom every single second of every single day. And to continue to relish in the sweet moments when they happen. Because they happen all the time. For instance when I was reading this article, sweet Finn was snuggling next to me on the couch. He fell asleep, but then started to stir, so I thought was waking back up. Only his eyes didn't open - he just smiled under his binkie and let out a little giggle, then went right back to sleep. It was as if he was woken up by an ever so pleasant dream. Talk about melting your heart.


6 comments:

  1. I think she hit the nail on the head. Just like any relationship there are ups and downs...but just because you have an argument with your husband, does that mean you love him any less or shouldn't have married him? Same goes with having kids. The bottom line is that we're all humans with our own needs and limitations. I'm glad that sweet Cale's life allows you to appreciate the gift of Finn's life more than most moms, but you're still allowed to appreciate the gift of sleep, too. So hopefully you DO give yourself a break from that guilt (and take a nap or get a massage while you're at it...because those tantrums are right around the corner ;)

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  2. I agree. I felt even more in love with Kai after Camille died. Not because I loved him more than I did before. But... Now you know exactly how precious life is. I wanted this tragedy to make me the best mom on earth. But grieving while parenting is some tuff shit! Some days I am so angry and cranky and I am short on patience and fat on fury. That is the grief mixed in with parenting a 2.5 year old. I'm not making excuses. Some days I am so sad and just have to apologize and say "I'm doing the best I can, I love you". We are all doing the best we can. You are doing an amazing job Caroline.

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  3. Caroline thank you so much for sharing your feelings here. I read this article the other day and thought, "so it's not just me." I definitely struggle with the guilt of being tired, or stressed, or frustrated. I mean I've lost a child so I should be grateful for everything right- even the exhausted/frustrated/cranky moments? It's nice to know that my feelings are normal. I love Mason more than anything but sometimes you do need a break or time for yourself. And you're right- me being tired or stressed doesn't take away one single bit from my love for him. Thank you again for sharing- I needed to hear this now.

    PS- I love that Finn did the sleep smile/giggle- adorable!

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  4. Oh my goodness Finn is so cute!
    I'm not where you are yet but someday I hope to be, and I'm filing this advice in the back of my mind - because I definitely anticipate getting down on myself for cranky/tired days.

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  5. Gosh he is cute!!! Nicely said here. I also find myself feeling angry at myself when I am not enjoying every minute with sloane even tho I know that's impractical. I'm anxious to see how I will handle the new baby. I have a feeling guilt will play a large role.

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  6. What up, Caroline! I loved that article, too. I can see how for mothers that have lost a child that the guilt would pile up about worrying if you're appreciating everything enough. Something I have to remind myself of is that motherhood, even in its fullness - the sweet times and the times that have screaming or poop involved, is exactly where I want to be. I think in your case that the idea of fullness is even more meaningful. I imagine that with a loss that things feel incomplete or something, but what you get to have along with that is the complete motherhood package with cutey Finn. That idea of full and complete is really something amazing. People are telling me all the time (honestly, like 3 times a day), "Wow! You sure have your hands full!" And they say it with such exasperation, they're not really paying me a compliment. It's so confusing to me because I always think, "Yes, my hands ARE full. What a beautiful thing - full. Who wouldn't want to have hands that are full instead of hands that are empty?" There's no perfect mother, but I loved Renel's comment about "I'm doing the best I can, I love you." -That's pretty perfect right there.
    Love to you and your cute family. It's fun seeing Finn and how he and Henry are right at the same stages. Teething is the best!

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