Archive of ‘Parenting’ category
Building a close relationship with my 4-year-old son has been a journey. Don’t get me wrong, from the moment I felt those first kicks in my belly I loved him fiercely and when I held him in my arms for the very first time, I knew he would have my heart forever. However, as a parent you quickly learn that while you technically do hold all the control in the parent-child relationship, you really have no control. If your 2-year-old decides that it is his life mission to refuse to wear socks and shoes, chances are he will be going shoeless that day.
I’m going to be real honest and admit that a year ago I thought something may be wrong with my son. Either that or something was seriously wrong with me as a parent. The terrible twos were beyond terrible and three was in a completely different realm… like who came up with ‘terrible twos’? Two was NOTHING compared to how terrible age three was. There were many nights where by the time I got all three kids to bed, all I could do was drown myself in tears. And the thought of dealing with what we went through that day again tomorrow was almost enough to turn me into an alcoholic. Instead, I spent a lot of those days commiserating with my mom friends who also had difficult toddlers. And I got really familiar with the stares as I carried my barefoot 3-year-old kicking and screaming over my shoulder with no coat on in the middle of winter to pick his big sis up from school.
I hit some of my parenting lows during those rough days with Landon. I said things I never could have ever imagined myself saying when he was just a sweet new babe in my arms. I raised my voice more times than I’d ever like to admit. I thought things that no parent wants to admit thinking. And I’m telling you all of this because I think it is 100% completely normal and now that we are on the other side of the terrible/horrible/horrendous twos/threes, I can say that it will get better. If you are in the throes of it now, stay strong. Pull out all the love you can find in your heart and pour it out on your sweet, monstrous child. Under all the tantrums and the stubbornness and the seemingly utter dislike towards you is still a perfect little God-given creation.
Today Landon and I have a very special bond. We’ve worked through more things than my first born and I ever had to. I now better understand his personality and what he needs and he better understands how he should behave and how to communicate in a way that benefits all of us. Growth is a miraculous thing. The age of four has been a game changer. Whereas a year ago it was at times like a war zone during the bedtime routine, he now sweetly asks me to carry him up the stairs on his way to bed. Every night as his little legs and arms are wrapped around me with his head on my shoulder, he gently pats my back as I carry him up. Some nights I can’t hold back the tears of happiness thinking just how far we’ve come in his four short years. He loves me. He really, really, really loves me. And the love I feel in return is so heartbreaking… in the best way possible.
We sat at a round table that was directly in the sun at the good ole Target Cafe. Greasy personal pan pizza fingers left marks all over the table. The baby sat on my lap gnawing on a piece of crust. I sipped my iced white mocha Americano (with cream) and took it all in.
This is my life. These are my people. MY people. My tribe. My troop.
I’ve written about loneliness before. Even with people around us all the time, it isn’t too hard to feel lonely every now and then. As I sat in Target that day with my three children around me, it hit me that my spells of loneliness are few and far between these days. I’ve created my own little clan of best buddies and it’s pretty darn spectacular.
When you think of parenthood you don’t usually think about how awesome it is that you have little people who are hardwired to love you and want to follow you around and just be with you. And they are so easy to please! “Hey kids, guess what we’re going to do after school today? We’re heading to Target to grab some things and if you’re good, we’ll get some pizza.” The cheers of joy from that seemingly unexciting journey is enough to put me right in my place in terms of what really matters in life.
This motherhood journey is perfectly imperfect. I feel like I’m failing at least twice a week, but I have a feeling if you asked my kids, they’d say I was doing just fine.
It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is streaming through the windows, the birds are chirping, and the kids are laughing over something as they eat their breakfast. As I run around getting stuff ready to take Leila to school, I glance at the clock. Oh good, we are running early today! So, I slow down, relax a bit, and around our normal time to head out the door, I round the troops to get jackets and shoes on. Leila happily obliges, tying her own shoes and everything. When I approach Landon with his socks and sneakers I get, “NO! I DON’T WANT TO!”
In an instant, I know that my seemingly happy, easy-going day is about to go downhill. I regret taking some time to slow down and relax as I know we will now be frantically running late. Every persuasive technique, bribe, and threat fails to convince Landon to put on his shoes and socks to take his sister to school. So, I load his sister and baby bro into the car and proceed to chase Landon around the house, eventually throwing him, with bare feet and coatless (it was 30 degrees out), up over my shoulder kicking and screaming. Getting him buckled in his carseat is like tying down an angry bull. There are scratches and tears and sweat and lots of frustration. The car is filled with high-pitched screams as we make the 2 minute drive to school and the whole time I’m wondering, “Why me?”
Nothing makes me long for the days of dealing with the newborn sleepless nights and diaper blowouts and unexplainable fussiness more than dealing with a 3-year-old. All this talk of the terrible twos, but I tell ya…. three is no walk in the park. Landon is seriously like a sassy teenager trapped in a 3-year-old’s body. After he was born, I thought I’d have years and years before experiencing any rage or hatred against me. Unfortunately, at least once a day he pushes me away and yells, “Go away Mom!” Are you for real kid?
I finally got around to putting together his baby photo book the other day (yes, I’m lame). While sorting through photos of Landon as a baby, I had tears streaming down my face. What happened to my sweet, little, innocent, chubby baby? Where’s my little guy who couldn’t get enough of his momma? Parenting is tough in ways I never anticipated. Watching your children grow and develop their own personalities is amazing, and fascinating, and utterly terrifying.
But, ya know what? While there are days when I want to put up a Craigslist ad to find a new home for my threenager (no joke, the other day Leila asked, “Mom can we have Landon adopted?”), there are still far more days where I can’t get enough of him. And mixed in with all of the no-I-don’t-want-tos and mom-go-aways are still a whole lot of precious moments where he’s still my baby – moments where he curls up in my lap and looks up at me with those big blue eyes and smiles… and I know I’m his world. Even if he doesn’t always show it.
They say the 7th year of marriage is the toughest. Something about a “7 year itch.” Early in my marriage I remember thinking, “Well, since Andy and I have been together since high school, 7 years of marriage is no big deal.” However, as we are half way through our 7th year, I see the reality of the situation. These past 7 years have brought us a lot of life change. New jobs, three kids, a mortgage, car payments, budgeting, meal planning, house keeping….We are constantly go, go, going – pushing off from each other to get everything done. Some days we don’t even kiss each other, let alone speak. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at all until I sit back and really reflect on where our relationship is.
Last Friday we had the rare pleasure of a date night out. We sat at a little romantic table across from each other for 2.5 hours without moving. No kids and lots of delicious food and good conversation. It seriously feels like it has been ages since we conversed. Sure, we chit chat at the end of each day and sometimes watch TV together and we enjoy tons of awesome time with our kids, but we hardly ever really talk. Midway through our 5-course meal, it struck me that I don’t even know if my husband is truly happy in our life. And so I asked him, “Are you happy? Like really happy with where you are in life, with where we are?”
I’m going to make an effort to check in with him on that more often. We should never assume that our spouse is happy and all is well in their world. Marriage isn’t easy. Love isn’t easy. Sure, it’s easy to fall in love quickly, but sustaining it is work. Some days we really have to make a conscious decision to love our spouse. We have to choose love.
I’m not threatened by the 7 year itch. I’m not worried that my marriage is ever going to fall apart. But, I do see how it can happen. Luckily, when I strip away the stress, the daily responsibilities, the children, the distractions… I still see the guy I fell in love with. And I’d still choose him all over again. We are slightly different people in an entirely different situation than when we first met. However, underneath it all there is still that deep, unconditional love that drew us together.
Craving a mushy-gushy love story?
Here’s ours that I shared a couple of years ago, in honor of Valentine’s Day:
Our Love Story: How We Met
Our Love Story: Falling In Love
Our Love Story: Perfect Proposal & Dream Wedding
I hope you took advantage of Valentine’s Day as a chance to reconnect with your significant other. It may be a cheesy, commercial holiday, but it can be a powerful one if we let it. XOXO
As your body relaxes and finally begins to drift off to sleep, you once again hear the start of tiny whimpers drifting to your ears. Waiting, and praying, the whimpers slowly escalate to intense cries of need. Nooooooooo. Every muscle in your body begs you to stay put, but your heart pulls you up towards your baby.
Through your tired eyes you may view your precious child as nothing more than a little monster who keeps you from sleep, keeps you from showering, keeps you from any freedom you once knew and took for granted. However, in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning, you have been given a special, fleeting opportunity to experience life as you never have before and as you never will again.
In this moment, though sleep deprivation seems to be driving you insane, you have been given a gift. You have the chance to hold your baby a little closer, to nurture him for one minute longer. Never, ever, ever again will your little one be this same size, or be the same tiny human you currently know.
Savor the way he fits perfectly in the nook of your arm.
His need for you, and you alone.
Savor the quiet. Or even the sound of his cries.
Soak it all in.
Tomorrow is a new day. Though you will feel tired and look haggard, I promise this time won’t last forever. Before you know it, your needy little baby will grow into an independent human being. Soon he won’t fit on your chest perfectly nuzzled under your chin. Soon he won’t cry out for you in the middle of the night. Soon enough, he may just want you to leave him alone. But for now? NOW he needs you. NOW he wants you. How wonderful is that?
Sure, the days feel long (and the nights feel even longer), but the years? Oh how the years are so short. Don’t let these minutes pass you by. Don’t waste them wishing you were somewhere else. These are moments you will never get back. Go ahead and look forward to the years you will spend in a wonderful relationship with this person you raise, but don’t miss out on these fleeting days of babyhood.
Through your tired eyes, give thanks. Savor. Snuggle. Choose to remember the good in the moment. You will catch up on sleep some day, but you won’t ever get these moments back.