Thursday, March 28, 2013

Remember when 'sleeping in' meant sleeping 'til after 10 a.m.? Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaa

Never for a minute do I forget how fortunate we are to have two beautiful, healthy, super active little boys who fill our house with noise and laughter and love. 
But I am tired. 
I am tired from working full-time then going straight to preschool or daycare and picking up the kids for an evening of constant supervision/stimulation/engagement. On some days, I'm jealous of the free time, the unscheduled “me” time my child-less coworkers have. I borrowed Pan’s Labrynth from my brother a year ago and have yet to watch it, because I cant seem to find the time. I can’t watch it with the kids around, and when they’re in bed, I just want to read while reveling in the quiet. 
I am tired of refereeing fights, even though I know this is a normal part of growing up with a brother or sister. I actually heard a statistic that kids who are close in age fight every seven minutes. Sounds about right to me. Best friends one minute (kissing, hugging, playing, laughing, light-saber fighting); biggest enemies the next. (Adam likes to tell his little brother “You are not my friend anymore!” when he gets mad at Ben; Ben likes to say “You are not my brudder anymore!”). I feel like I’m constantly saying, “That is not ok! Now say you are sorry!” or “Did you hit him? Did you kick him? What happened?” or “That is not acceptable!”
I am tired of giving time-outs.
I am tired of not knowing what my friends are talking about when they rehash the latest popular TV shows (I want to be able to discuss Downton Abbey or Parenthood or Game of Thrones; not Word Girl!). 
I am tired of feeling guilty when I have a short fuse and snap and yell at my kids (it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I instantly regret it — I know I’m setting a terrible example by responding to a tense situation with yelling. It only escalates the problem and shows the boys that I’m out of control. I’m working on it!) and I should be a better, more calm, more rational, more patient mom, and why am I letting my impressionable children watch cartoons? Shouldn’t we all be playing Candy Land around the dining room table? Shouldn’t I be down on the ground, playing cars and trucks with them? Shame on me. Don’t I realize how fleeing this is ... this stage in their lives? Before I know it, they will be grown and won’t want to play with me and I’ll wish I had spent more time on the ground, playing cars and trucks when I had the chance.
And sometimes I do get down on the ground and play cars and trucks with them (the dishes can wait! The laundry can wait! Isn’t it worth it to see the joy on their faces!?! Just enjoy them, everything else can wait!), and other times I just want to not think for a little while. I want to zone out while watching The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother and not change a diaper (nearly every day has consisted of someone else’s poop for 5.5 years), or get more milk or wash dishes (we still don’t have a dishwasher) or fold laundry or sweep the kitchen floor or pick up toys or give baths or try to get the kids to go to bed without a fight. (No matter how tired I am, though, I love reading books. I love when we’re all snuggled together on the big bed, Adam on one side of me, Ben on the other, temporarily lost in whatever magical world we’re part of that night.)
When you have a newborn, you are physically tired. The sleep deprivation … the on-demand feedings … the adjusting to the new normal (remember when you used to shower regularly? Put on makeup? Do you hair?), the worrying, the wondering (is that a feed-me cry? A hold-me cry? A change-me cry? An “I’m-bored” cry? An “I-don’t-feel-good” cry?), the Googling when something doesn’t seem quite right and “It’s probably nothing but ...” sheepish nurse line phone calls and even-if-the-baby-is-sleeping-you-can’t-sleep-the-way-you-used-to-because-your-senses-are-now-on-high-alert kind of tired. It’s very exhausting.  

With a newborn, the less sleep you get, the more you crave. Sleep is like a drug. You become obsessed thinking about when you’re going to get your next “fix.”
And then, when your baby is older, you miss that infant stage. That stage consisted of three main responsibilities: feed the baby, change the baby, hold the baby. (Love the baby is a given.) Those needs can be met in a very efficient manner. 
When your baby is older, you become tired in a different way. There is the sheer physical exhaustion of chasing a toddler, yes, but now you are also responsible for coming home after a full day of work and preparing healthy meals (no more fend-for-yourself dinnertime mentality), and making sure your child knows right from wrong, and teaching good manners, and helping them learn how to effectively handle a temper tantrum (it is hard trying to teach your kids how to calmly and rationally deal with anger or frustration that doesn’t involve yelling or throwing a sippy cup across the room or calling someone/something dumb or stupid), and teaching tolerance, and acceptance, and kindness, and compassion, and respect, and independence (“No, Ben, you can put on your own shoes”), and the importance of sharing, and not talking to strangers, and how they will have more friends if they play fair, and how they must wash, wash, wash those little hands, and brush, brush, brush those little teeth, and how we must always hold hands in parking lots, and “No toys when we go into Target this time” means “No toys when we go into Target this time” and the fact that—at the end of a long day—your family is everything (whether that family consists of two dads or two moms or one mom or one dad or a mom and a dad). Once your child starts walking and talking and copying what you say and do, you are responsible for putting every important lesson into place in the hopes that you are raising someone you will feel proud to be friends with someday. 

And sometimes it seems like everyone talks and blogs about how much they love their kids (duh) and how their kids are so beautiful and smart and funny and witty and charming and sweet and wonderful, but few ever talk about the days when parenthood feels hard, ya know? It is hard, whether we're running on two hours of sleep or eight. Maybe part of it is that we all just need some uninterrupted sleep ... but I think an even bigger part is that maybe we need to be more patient and kind with ourselves and keep doing the best we can. 

Our parents raised us with far fewer resources and safety measures (no carseats! smoking during pregnancy!) and we all turned out just fine, but I also read a quote that parents today have it so much harder than our parents did. We’re now supposed to parent a certain way—there are so many expectations and social pressures to “effectively” parent and have that just-like-in-the-movies perfect family.

Our parents were just people with kids.