Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What needs to get done

This is going to deviate a little from my normal style of posting about my family. It is time for serious recording of what parenthood means to me in the early years of it. There have been a lot of great articles floating around about how difficult raising small children is. About how the early years are "The blur". A lot of articles and blogs that make it more ok to admit that parenthood isn't all that it was advertised to be. That make it ok for you to admit you need and want help.

But for me, I think the crux of it is that reality doesn't match up with my expectations or my visions.

When I got pregnant, I started to plan, as most parents do. I started to think about cool things I could do and give to my children. I made a playlist of music that I was litening to during my pregnancy to give to my child on his/her 16th birthday. I started thinking about awesome things the Easter Bunny could do. I looked up recipies for home made play dough. I researched strollers. I planned near and far term things that would just make childhood awesome.

Then I actually had a baby. A baby who woke up throughout the night and never let me get a full night of sleep. A baby who had blow outs at costco. A baby who cried when strangers would hold him. This baby grew into a little toddler who doesn't like to eat vegetables. A toddler who liked to dump a bin of toys out onto the floor and not play with any of them. A toddler who likes to run things, anything, along the walls.

Somewhere in the middle of that I decided to have another child... a playmate... again to make childhood awesome. To give my son a best friend, a best man for his wedding. New baby, pretty much just like the older one, except this one also liked to climb things and fall down a lot, and he loves fabric, so no laundry is ever safe.

Life stopped being about what I could do to make childhood awesome and started being about "what NEEDS to get done". I need to make sure there is food in the house. To try and make healthy dinners (that my kids refuse to eat most of the time). I need to make sure there are clean dishes to eat the food on. I need to make sure that diapers are changed and potty training continues to be successful. I need to make sure teeth are brushed. I need to make sure that bath time happens. I need to make sure there are clean clothes for everyone.

My kids fight taking a bath and brushing their teeth. Every. Single. Time. They fight naptime. They fight going to bed. They fight eating meals. They fight getting dropped off at daycare. They fight leaving daycare. They fight riding in the cart at the grocery store. They fight with me a lot. They fight with each other too.

I need to maintain a calm and happy attitude despite all the fighting. I need to acknowledge their feelings and make sure they know they are being heard, even though I'm not giving in to what they want. I need to teach them not to hit and not to scream. I need to show them love and compassion and joy. I need to teach them to show love and compassion and joy to each other.

But my expectations were all about the big stuff, the fun stuff, the playtime, the holidays. All of those things are still on my mind, but actually executing any of it with an almost 2 year old and a 3 year old is basiclaly impossible.

We are on the verge of Christmas again. Scratch that, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I am trying to manage my expectation of Thanksgiving and the fact that they probably won't want to eat anything that we're cooking. They're both in a "NO" phase for food, and getting them to eat anything unfamiliar is a tall order. So I have to get through Thanksgiving with some tears, and food thrown on the floor, and jumping up every couple of minutes to try and convince my two tiny people to eat something new, or eat something at all.

Then Christmas. I want to be that awesome mom that has the whole month of activities, baking cookies, seeing lights, caroling... but I don't think my kids are old enough for it. Rather, I don't think I can fight with them every night for a month to try and get them to have experiences. I just don't have it in me.

That's what it comes down to. They fight new things. And I don't have the energy for the fights that aren't needed. So I can't be that cool mom yet. I'm sure someday my kids will get dressed all by themselves, and brush their own teeth, and take showers. Maybe then. Maybe then I can be the fun mom. But for now, I just need to be the mom that loves her kids and trys to teach them healthy habits and doesn't scream (often). For now it needs to be enough. Someday my vision of family life will come to pass, but the early years are about getting through the days and getting the needs met.