It’s been quite awhile since I wrote about anything parenting-related.
That’s not to say I have nothing to say!
It’s just been… overwhelming at times.
Here are my latest reflections/lessons.
There’s a bit of a parallel here. I’m learning boundaries with my kid, just as I need them in my own life in general.
It’s a little bit easier with a toddler, to be honest. I know we need them for safety, for example. With adults, it’s for the sake of sanity – which is easy to discount/dismiss. As a chronic overgiver/overfunctioner, learning to say no to people of any age is an ongoing journey. It’s a trip.
On learning who I am
Just like money makes you more of who you already are, I think parenting intensifies your personality traits. I’m clearer than ever on who I am. Sometimes I don’t recognise myself in my worst moments. Sometimes I’m blown away by how well I hold up.
There is no shortage of patience required in parenting. With the repetitive questions. With repeatedly setting limits. With often saying no.
I default to calm whenever I can, take a breath, seek to understand the underlying cause of behaviour first.
I try to be playful and give choices at every step.
But wow, this is a challenging age.
On tuning in and trusting my intuition
When something is wrong, I know it.
I have become somewhat sceptical of many doctors. I am a huge believer in private health insurance. I’ve had so much better luck being taken seriously and getting help from specialists. I’m sad that if I didn’t have the money, it might not have happened.
And paired with that, I’ve always tackled experiments with a pretty robust test and learn mentality – without close tracking and monitoring, I would never have identified the trigger foods behind Spud’s issues.
On letting go and the nature of impermanence
You cannot control other human beings. Accepting this is essential.
Nothing lasts forever. The good. The bad. Things always change. Everything is a phase. Just go with it.
And this goes along with letting go of the need for perfection. I can improvise. Trusting I can come up with bedtime stories about all sorts of random things on request. They’re not very imaginative, I grant you. Usually I wind up weaving a safety lesson (the climax is often a car having an accident … don’t ask) or one about eating healthy (trying new foods). Whatever. It doesn’t have to be amazing. I can make it up on the fly.
On hanging in there despite the discomfort
Perseverance. And lots of repetition.
Applies to everything. Offering different/new foods. Toilet training. Bike riding. And of course, desired behaviours.
Getting uncomfortable being uncomfortable. The toddler years are TRYING. They’ve shaken the self-trust I’d built. The doubts are bigger and louder, I’m triggered multiple times a day, and ashamed of how reactive I am.
The tantrums/meltdowns are not easy to hold space for, especially as emotions were not generally acknowledged in my childhood.
I struggle to straddle the line between validating and holding space, and feeding too much into things and letting them go too long. Knowing when to skilfully redirect, vs just distracting as a band-aid.
On being a role model
I haaaaated being told I had to set a good example for my little brother. And now the stakes are even higher. I am so not perfect. But I’m hoping I’m doing okay, that I am repairing my wrongs, and that I can reparent myself along the way.
Parenting ain’t easy. But I suppose I can say it is absolutely fulfilling. I can absolutely imagine a parallel child-free life. But I chose this one and overall, I’m glad I did – despite all the challenges.