My sweet girl, my first child, turns four today! I’ve learned so much in these four years, especially the past couple months. I feel like I should hit rewind, now that I’m better prepared. But there’s no pre-test in parenting. You can take parenting classes, you can babysit, you can get an idea of what parenting is like with younger siblings, but you don’t know what it’s really like until you dive into it.
I feel like I dove into parenting, myself. All I knew about parenting was that I basically knew nothing. But I chose to do it anyway.
Lately, I’ve been wondering…why is it we have pre-marital counseling required by law in some states, but there’s no pre-parental counseling required? I really could have used that.
I didn’t think you rearranged your life to fit in your kids. That way of thinking has probably been my biggest mistake thus far.
At the same time, it is a healthy way to view raising children. My life doesn’t revolve around my kids to the point that my marriage suffers, that I ignore my husband to dote on my kids. I love my kids, but a healthy marriage is just as important to nurture as your children. So put your husband first, be excited to see him at the end of the day, and not just because he’s finally there to take care of HIS kids. Ha!
I used to pride myself on being the mom that wasn’t her child’s designated playmate. I did not give birth in order to sit on the floor and play pretend for hours! My child was self-reliant and could entertain herself! Not to say I never played with my babies, but I could have done it more often. It is an important part of healthy brain development and bonding, which in turn helps with social skills (My oldest certainly has this in abundance, as everyone she meets is her friend!).
It’s all about striking a balance!
My husband and I were always told we didn’t seem like typical first time parents. Part of that was due to our nooks and crannies philosophy, I think. With one baby, we still ate out, we visited friends and family, we vacationed with our four month old…We went where we wanted to go and our baby went with us. We weren’t overly worried about germs- the 5 Second Rule rules! We weren’t terribly hung up on a napping schedule; we had no problem adjusting it to our convenience. Even feedings weren’t on a schedule. I nursed my baby, so she usually let me know when she was hungry. We added her to our lives and went about our daily business, no big deal.
My biggest failure with this philosophy has been more recent. When our family grew to four, I grew more inconvenienced. Not only did I have two children to lug around now, making my day twice as long, and twice as stressful, but I also had a colicky baby to boot. Nothing made her happy. Suddenly, it was too hard to accomplish anything or go anywhere. My life revolved around my kids, just like I always said it wouldn’t. I had lost myself and I felt trapped. During the next year, I grew more dejected by the month. Why did I give my life up for these kids, I wondered?
Last summer, I knew something had to change. So I joined a direct sales company and started a blog. 🙂 I needed to do something for me, I needed to have goals that were longer lasting than keeping my house clean. Now I take more joy in my kids than I ever have before, just because I broke the boring daily rhythm. It was that simple! We also decided recently to start leaving our kids at our local drop-in daycare again for date nights. To know we can go out whenever we choose is an amazingly freeing thought.
I’m learning to find the right balance in life. I’m learning to appreciate my kids more. I’m learning that I will have a life of my own back someday, but that doesn’t mean it ended four years ago. I’m still me, but I have sweet little girls to love and care for now. It’s a blessing and a privilege.
Of course, it helps that the colic is over- so help me God, if it ever happens again…