Parenting can leave you feeling isolated, exhausted, and frustrated. Lately I have found myself resisting these negative feelings and searching for the positive. Each day I set out to find the positive, embrace the craziness of having a toddler and preschooler, and celebrate my identity in it all. I have better success on some days than others, but the consistent effort to refocus on everything I have to celebrate has allowed for some truly memorable moments.
Today, for example, I acknowledged the reality of what lie ahead, tossed most of my 'to do' list (ignoring my work), and set out to accomplish three things:
1) to be available for all solicited snuggle time,
2) to be patient with myself and the requests of my boys, and
3) to accept the unexpected challenges.
I knew my younger son was going to wake up feeling worse from his cold than the day before (thanks to the every-so-handy 'Mother's Instinct') and instead of pushing ahead with all the usual expectations for the day I found myself pulling back before we ever really got started. This isn't to say that I gave up on the day ahead, but I simply acknowledge the likelihood that charging ahead as I typically do would ultimately end up backfiring. No one was going to benefit from being pushed harder than necessary today. And that included me.
As we moved through the morning the day unfolded exactly as I anticipated. Little A required more and more attention due to a fever, congestion, and generally discomfort. Big A had a typical morning at school and came home eager for a playmate (usually fulfilled by Little A). It was here that I realized it wasn't possible to be everything to everyone. I solicited big brother's help in taking care of Little A. I found a special one-on-one activity for Big A while little brother took a nap (albeit shorter lived than usual). Eventually, we navigated our way through the afternoon without too much drama or frustration from all parties (including Mommy). I didn't feel like the superstar mom I hoped to be on a regular basis, but we were managing.
Then I hit a bit of a roadblock. I am a stickler for screen time with the boys and careful about the amount of TV and iPad time there is on any given day. It was late in the afternoon, Little A's fever has peaked again, and we just finished an episode of Super Why! (a household favorite). I was torn between rallying everyone to play for what time was left before dinner or staying cozy together to allow Little A some much needed rest. In the end, the boys watched more TV than usual and while I sat there snuggling under our blanket I lingered with the thought that it is okay to break the rules (even if you are the one who created them).
I began thinking about the standards I set for myself as a parent and the ways I measure my success within these goals. Why is it so hard to allow for breaks or missteps and so easy to feel as though I am not measuring up? Then it hit me. The only person I need to accept the choices I make as a parent is me (and my wonderful partner in crime/husband). If I am at peace with my choices, accepting of the knowledge that guides my parenting choices, and comfortable with the overall well-being of the boys then that is all that matters. The cultural voices in my head that have me questioning every decision along the way can be pushed aside by my confidence in myself and my identity as a parent.
It is hard to put aside our own agenda and goals for the day and let the needs of our children dictate what we accomplish. What I have discovered is that all the same responsibilities will await me the next day and when I allow the day to unfold as it will I accomplish everything I set out to do. Sometimes the best parenting strategy is to be forgiving of yourself and accept what you will/can realistically tackle in a day.
Tomorrow might not be all that different (Little A's cold will likely linger a little longer), but I will start right back in the same place...in search of the positive, accepting the challenges, and celebrating all I can along the way.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families and design ideas based on our adventures building a home from the ground up.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com