Last night, in a rare moment of “me” time, I got to go out for supper with friends. Ben stayed home to feed, bathe, and put Harrison to bed. It turned out to be perfect timing as Little Man and I had an especially trying day yesterday. I know my lack of sleep this week was part of crawl-in-the-cave morning, but I also have a sinking suspicion that HD is not only feeding off the energy of my late-stage-pregnancy-hormone-mood swings, but also sensing that a big change is coming soon.
Among other subjects discussed during dinner, my friends and I recalled a time two years ago when three of the four of us had had babies within the year (two of us within the last three months) and one was about to have hers within the next few weeks. We were all a bit shell-shocked. There was an evening we rallied for take-out dinner from our favorite local pub and all of the ladies ended up in the nursery talking openly and honestly about just how hard this parenting gig was at times. The newest mom, who had felt like she was the only struggling, looked around with a mouth wide open and asked, “Why don’t we talk about this stuff? We have to talk about the bad stuff, too!” As we relived that conversation last night, I thought, how fitting for the day Harrison and I had just experienced. My default, when talking to other people about our bad days, is to crack jokes and smile – the grin and bare it approach, I guess, to parenting. But some days, I can’t help but wonder why don’t we just talk about the bad stuff? Why do we try to smile and pretend like everything is sunshine and roses?
Even though my dinner out (away, alone, as an adult/individual) was lovely, my spirit was still feeling defeated when I got home. I considered blogging last night but knew that doing so would come off as whiny and self-indulgent. Even at my worst, I can still recognize and appreciate that so many other parents out there have situations far more difficult than my own. Single parent homes…military homes…parents of children who are ill or suffering….all of these people pass through my mind when I am feeling particularly sorry for myself and I know that I am so fortunate, so blessed to have the life I do. But (there is always a but), I have come to learn that parenting is difficult no matter what your situation may be and that anything can feel so much worse when you assume that you are alone & the only one who has ever felt this way.
I know I am not the first tired pregnant lady. I know I am not the first mother to struggle with handling an energetic toddler (hello, the “terrible twos” was a phrase invented long before Harrison came into this world!). & I know I’m not the first parent to wonder if they are royally screwing up their kid for life at each new turn. I need to remember these things when it feels like I am all alone in The Bad Stuff. Because like it or not, every day is not going to perfect. Boundaries and patience levels will be tested. Buttons (literal and figurative) will be pushed. The Bad Stuff will happen. But (there is always a but), the choice I need to make, for myself and for how I approach my children, is to know that The Good Stuff will come again. Always. It may need to be prompted by good friends, chocolate, coffee, wine, etc. but surely, if we face The Bad Stuff head on – talk about it instead of ignoring it – we will get there. Always.