Last week we finally had some time off as a family. Like many young families, we don’t get to do this often and with two toddlers, well, you can imagine already being worn out before you pack and start making sure everyone has everything they need. The weather, in case you missed the news, was fairly dramatic which lead to some amazing beach photos during some fast moving fog. So, although we couldn’t play outside for very long, I did get to make use of the fog and keep the toddlers entertained.
Holidays are supposed to be about rest and recharging our internal batteries but not if you take them with two smallies in tow or so I thought. I’m always surprised how seemingly mundane situations teach me something either about myself or my kids. I was terrified of all of us sleeping in one, albeit, bigger hotel room. We don’t sleep that much as it is so the thought of being in a hotel room with our kids for 4 days with no one sleeping or one toddler keeping everyone awake, didn’t really excite me. It turned out I was wrong on all accounts but it did lead myself and my husband to discuss the expectations that we have as parents. Not the expectations of our children but the ones that are put upon parents or we put upon ourselves.
I’m not really sure when the expectations started. Was it during pregnancy? Birth? Or did it start before then? I’m don’t know when they started to creep in but those expectations that start rearing their ugly head almost as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, the ones that imply that as a parent you suddenly know everything. As if magically at that instance of birth you are filled with a wealth of knowledge. Erm, well I can tell you that the magic fairy was on leave the day I became a mother and that magical ability never came my way.
As a child, we think that our parents know everything. If we have a pain they can take it away, if we have a need or a want they can fulfil it. Being on the other end of that spectrum is somewhat terrifying. That realisation that we are all just fumbling along and trying to make it work. Each family trying to maintain a balance and do what is right for them. That there is no magic playbook and yet I somehow imagined in my naivety that we would be amazing parents. We are good parents, amazing isn’t a word on our spectrum. The toddler years are like firefighting. You try to hold it together as best you can and the days when it all goes to pot, well just let it and bring out your knitting.
“I am still so naïve; I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please, don’t ask me who I am. A passionate, fragmentary girl, maybe?”
-― Sylvia Plath,
We came around to talking about parenting and I wondered how we could be parents and raise two children when both of us are still very much trying to figure out life, who we are and where we fit. How can we guide or nurture our children in social situations when there are times we both fail at this spectacularly. That as parents we now have to look after ourselves and our children without quite knowing how to do either and to top it all off we have to try and do it while sleep deprived zombies.
We came to the realisation that there are days that we will fail and I imagine they will be spectacular failures but on the flipside, there are days we will be fantastic parents. Days when our kids are laughing, playing and everyone is happy and their needs are met. There will be those magic days where for once everything is exactly as it should be. But those days, they wouldn’t be so sweet without the epic failures, the tantrums, the night terrors, the leaps, the constant whines of “I’m hungry” and “Mommy/Daddy” and the family favourite question of “Why on EARTH is there banana on EVERYTHING?”
The key to keeping me back from the precipice is either baby wearing or downtime. Peace and quiet to sleep or read or reflect or just be completely silly. I hope you find that time for you, a parent or not each person deserves that time to be alone to get to know themselves a little better. I’m happiest when I get to dream, write, create, knit or take beach walk alone and failing that babywearing while doing any of those things usually helps me to feel like I have had a break.
Today, I want you to do something kind for yourself and then tell me what it is in the comments.
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