The Parenting Paradox: Appreciating the Chaos

In trying to make the most of the moment do you ever get lost in it, where your worry keeps you from fully enjoying it? Me too.

They Say It’ll Go By So Fast

The days are long but the years are short one parent told me at a restaurant when my boys were having trouble waiting for our food (it’d had been a reallllly long time). I’ve never forgot that.  It’s so true. People who said it’ll go by fast enjoy every moment seemed to only remember the good things and not the struggle and that’s why this nugget really stood out to me. I liked what these parents said because it acknowledged the paradox and the struggle while appreciating the bitter sweetness of it as well. Parenting is hard but so rewarding. In the midst of 10 pee accidents in a day, whining and crying children while you’re trying to clean, cook, and do other tasks, finding time for yourself so you can give your all to your kids and not lose your mind, it can be hard to remember and cherish the small and rewarding things.  The morning cuddles, the funny way he puts his hands on his hip when he asks a question in his little toddler voice, the hugs and I love you to his brother, the trying to copy and help when you’re doing a chore, the excitement at just about anything (except the things you want them to do like clean and take a bath…) So how do we appreciate the chaos?

Each Stage Has a Season

My boys run around all the time and have so much energy they can’t focus enough to listen, but at the same time they love fiercely and want to play with me all the time. That’s not always going to happen. My best days happen when I plan lots of activities to do with them and I only have 1 cleaning / to do task during the day so I can dedicate a lot of the day to just being present with them.  We bond more.  There are less arguments and more fun. I have a half an hour a day to myself, sometimes longer.  That is hard for me as I’m a project and goal oriented person with lots of dreams and ideas I want to make happen and not enough time to even make a dent sometimes. It is what I signed up for as a parent, my wise husband said.  It’ll get easier and you’ll have more time later.  When this happens they’ll need me less and I’ll have to devote more time and effort into bonding with them because their friends will be more of a focus then and connecting may become even harder.  So each stage has tradeoffs. The cute and cuddly baby days when they fall asleep on you and you can pick out adorable outfits and the milestones are one right after another also have lots of worries about safety, lots of changing, lots of crying, and lots of transitions, and lots of unpredictability. One stage might be better suited to your personality than another too. So when you’re in the chaos, remembering this is a stage can be helpful and that it’ll get easier.  You can also ask for ideas from parents who have older kids and what they did (plus seeing they survived and their kids are great give you hope for you and your own).

Pity Parties Only Feel Good for a Few Minutes

Action feels good for longer… Comparing yourself to other parents who you think have it easier…maybe they do in one area but where you’re strong they lack.  Every family has their own issues we don’t know about.  Wishing you had it like someone else won’t make your situation any easier.  It’ll just make you feel worse and appreciate what you have less. Wishing you had more time or more this or more that and commiserating with other parents and people will feel good for five minutes, maybe more, but in the end you’ll still be left with the situation you’re in. Taking actions steps to work with what you have and work with where you are will have greater dividends. I can accept I won’t have as much time for myself.  I focus my time on my family and creating a strong connection now so that later it’ll be easier to maintain it.  My goals and dreams can wait and I chip away at them as I go.  They’ll still be there. I can accept that working out is going to be tricky.  Instead of making excuses I can work out with my boys. I can climb the massive stairs over and over at my workplace before I pick up the boys (my goal for the spring).  I can plan my workouts and try to work out in the early morning or evening.  There are potential solutions. Nothing is ideal but there are wonderful moments and blessings in every stage.  Look for the good in the stage.  Accept and work with the struggle. You got this!  Remember you’re not alone in the parenting journey.  Everyone struggles with something as a parent.  We’re all just trying to figure it out and make our way. Focusing on what you’re missing out on and what is hard may be important to grieve and work through, but focusing on what you have and being present with it will bring you far greater happiness and peace. (I needed to realize this myself when I struggled with lack of time for myself and craving it, going from 1-2 hours a day to half an hour if I’m lucky was a difficult transition. However, I recognize it’s a temporary one and have found so much I enjoy in it like when the boys build and explore and are so excited to show me their creations.) May you find peace and contentment in the chaos.

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