When I became a parent in 2015, I really thought I had parenting in the bag. I had been a babysitter or nanny for over 10 years, and I had been in charge of some pretty tough kids. I naively thought I had “seen it all” and that with my babysitting experience and Family Studies degree I would be basically the best mom ever.
I know you’re all laughing by now.
Our oldest son has always been a difficult kid. He had colic as a baby, and caught the terrible twos long before age two. Almost everything was a challenge with him, and five and a half years later, a lot of things are still really challenging. Now, thanks to some behavioral therapy, we know that he was showing signs of social anxiety at a very early age. That stage was so hard for me.
I had wanted to be a mom so badly, yet I anxiously awaited the sound of the garage door opening at 5:10pm each night when my husband would return home from work because I could not wait to get out of the house. Our son has gotten easier, but he still has anxiety-inducing situations we have to help him through daily. Despite the challenge of raising our first child, we decided to start the adoption process for one more baby when our oldest was 2 1/2.
Our second adoption process was a giant mess that ended in us using fertility treatments to get pregnant with twins. I thought that our first kid was hard. I had no idea. What was really hard was having TWIN BABIES, and a difficult 3-year-old (who I kid you not, took his last nap on the day they were born. Thanks, dude.) That was two and a half years ago, and now we have two-year-old twins and a really challenging 5-year-old. Life is chaotic and hard. I often text my husband asking, “why is this SO hard?”
There are still days where I’m anxiously awaiting the sound of that garage door opening, and would do just about anything for 30 seconds where someone isn’t screaming, “maaaaammmmaaaa!!!”
All three of my kids are difficult in their own ways, but both my boys are especially challenging. I constantly hear or read that if they’re misbehaving at home, that means they feel safe around me. I have spent a lot of days wishing they didn’t feel quite so safe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad they both know they can release all of their feelings and emotions in front of me, but it makes those long days even longer. There are days when I’m jealous of the well behaved boys their teachers and babysitters see. Some days the glowing reviews are hard to listen to because I don’t often see the behavior the teacher is describing.
With how much media we consume online these days, I really wish there was more content shared by people who don’t always love their gig as a parent. I have had days, weeks, and seasons where I am mentally worn out by parenting, and unlike what social media tells me, it’s more than a glass of wine and a bath can fix.
I know it won’t always be so hard, but I’m realistic enough to know that there are seasons where maybe it will be even harder than it is now. Social media shows parenting all ages from a jaded lens full of matching pajamas, perfect looking playrooms, and gorgeously perfect Christmas mornings where every child was polite and acted appropriately thankful for their perfectly picked out and wrapped gifts.
If you’re nodding along and agreeing with me while you read, let me be the one to say:
I think that it’s okay to have times where you don’t always enjoy parenting. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or that you aren’t incredibly grateful for your children.
It’s okay to acknowledge to yourself and others that you’re struggling, and you SHOULD do that.
It’s okay to ask for help with your kids.
Most importantly, it’s okay to get help for yourself, and that might be in the aisles of Target alone, or it might be in a therapist’s office. You’ll be a better mom for it.