I keep seeing all these articles being posted about how terrifyingly hard being a parent is. How the terrible twos are nothing compared to the treacherous threes, but don’t worry because after that comes the frightful fours. Basically, your child is going to be a monster for the rest of your life so keep that bottle of wine really really close.
I’m sorry, but any situation is exactly what you make of it. How you handle it. Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecy? If you’ve decided that it’s just the shits regardless of what you do, you will be right. And since misery loves company, we write articles and we gather armies to corroborate our story.
Is parenting always a care free saunter across a grassy meadow with the sun ever so delicately shining on our flawless skin? Obviously not. There’s the poop, the crying, the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the meltdowns, the germs (oh goodness, the germs!), the extracurricular activities and a barrage of other shit that will hit you like a runaway train and make you want to tear out your hair. I’m not here to sugarcoat reality, people.
But you chose to obtain this child. You chose to keep it, to raise it, to parent it. You chose all this despite seeing other children screaming for more candy in the middle of the mall. Despite being vomited all over when you held your niece for the first time. Despite all the articles that told you that it simply never gets any better. It’s all about perspective.
What I find interesting is that if it were any other aspect of your life – career, friends, even a spouse – you wouldn’t settle for “suck it up.” That simply wouldn’t be good enough. You’d change your tactic, tweak your approach. You’d make the necessary changes so that your situation improved and you weren’t so miserable. You find a new job. You’d make new friends, or create enough distance with the toxic ones. You’d go to marriage counselling, or establish a date night, or join a support group. You’d take action, and you’d make your life better.
So what is it about it being your child that makes it ok to just settle for misery? You obviously can’t trade your child in for a new one (the government generally frowns upon attempting this by the way), but you certainly can change your approach and your outlook to get a different result. Not only can you, but you have a moral obligation to that child to do just that. Because you know what? Every time you tell someone “Oh you think 2 is bad? Just wait until 3!” – your child can hear you. You are subconsciously telling them that they are bad and difficult to manage. You are damaging their self-esteem from the get-go and then genuinely clueless why they tried that cigarette, or slept with that boy or failed a grade. It isn’t rocket science.
It’s amazing what a change of perspective can do. When you stop deciding you’re destined for year in and year out of defiance and headaches. When you come to the realization that children are people too and deserve just as much respect, understanding and patience that you would afford a grown adult. Empower yourself, empower your child and use the self-fulfilling prophecy to your advantage. Decide today that parenting is actually a joy, because you’ve been given the privilege of molding tomorrow’s future.
People are always surprised when they ask me how it is being a mother and I respond with “it’s fantastic!” They assume I’m being sarcastic or that I’m currently high. I’m dead serious. Watching my son grow and learn and mature is the greatest gift I will ever be given and I’m not wasting it dwelling on the negative.
I know that when he has a tantrum it’s because he’s small with a lot of big emotions that he desperately wants to communicate and control but can’t. He’s not trying to punish me.
I know that when he looks at me with that defiant eye and tells me “NO!”, that I am molding him to think for himself and not get pushed around. That I am giving him the self-confidence to stand up for his beliefs and I will be thankful for this in his teenage years. He’s not trying to punish me.
I know that when he gets sick and wants nothing but Mommy all day and night it’s because to him I provide him comfort and safety. I will want him to always feel comfortable and safe in my presence so we can talk about real life issues. He’s not trying to punish me.
So on those days where there’s a pooping, germy, crying child throwing a tantrum through the entire night? Change your approach. Decide whether it’s a battle even worth fighting. Update your thinking. I’ll give you a hint: it’s almost always your perspective. And don’t worry – it really isn’t that bad.