There are many things to love about summer (iced coffee, swimming pools, sunshine, etc.), but probably my favorite is having my husband around 24/7. Well, mostly 24/7. He still has a few school commitments during the summer and don’t even get me started on his “hobby” of keeping the lawn watered and mowed…
But, yes; for the most part, summer is fantastic because the kids get more Daddy Time and I get more Ben Time. After an especially trying and busy spring, we’ve needed this summer in particular to recover and reconnect. Bit by bit, we’re getting there. One such bit came during a kitchen conversation before bed the other night…
Like best friends on a sleepover, Ben and I have been known to stay up way too late chatting in bed many a time. This is a wonderful thing, but a little more problematic now that we’ve got two littles in the house. For one, we really need every minute of sleep we can get (duh). For another, our littles sleep in rooms veryveryvery close to ours, so late night conversations in bed don’t jive well with sleeping kiddos which doesn’t jive well with sleeping parents and so on. So. The other night we fell into one of our talks in the kitchen before heading upstairs for the night and something rather profound came to my attention.
Thanks to my saving grace blog, Momastery (sorry if you’re sick of these references, but this blog really has brought me through some rough patches if for no other reason than giving me something to laugh about til it hurts), I stumbled upon this notion that every age and every stage of children is not for every parent. This is not to say that you don’t love your kids from Day One (or before) to Forever (or beyond), but just that you might hit your stride as a parent with one age range over another. For example, some parents might do really really well with the preschool set while others flourish with teenagers or even grown children. Excellent stuff, really, for those moments when you find yourself wondering Why am I not better at this? Shouldn’t I be better at this? Shouldn’t I be loving every minute of this?? Glennon’s answer? Maybe you’ll get better at it with time or maybe another time will be your time to shine. I love it. Such a good mantra for remembering that this too shall pass and that what you are doing is more than enough because you’re doing the best you can.
I’ve shared this notion with Ben and we’ve both been mulling over it for some time now. See, Ben and I are planners. All those times we stayed up talking half the night? All those phone calls we had when we spent a year living in different cities? All planning sessions, I tell you. We love to talk about what’s to come, how we will approach it and what will come after that. This is not to say that we don’t know how to live in the moment and enjoy life, but we are both creatures who depend and thrive upon structure and order. Or at least an itinerary (and possibly a theme thrown in for me, just for kicks).
I mention this shared personality trait of ours because it has something to do with the parenting stage and struggles in which we currently find ourselves. Babies and toddlers do NOT like plans. If anything, they are anti-plans and sometimes it seems that they do anything and everything to thwart plans, no matter how well laid out or intended. Herein lies the profound discovery from our conversation the other night: I have never thought about this clash in this light before, but now it makes total sense as to why I come so close to (and sometimes do) losing my $hit. In my Type A/Perfectionist/Planner/Helicopter modes, I see how I want everything to go in this life with small children. They sleep, they play, they eat, they sleep, they play, they sleep, and then then they eat and play some more. See how lovely that is? I mean, really. Beautiful stuff. But as it is, childhood and parenting are messy jobs and while my kiddos do eat and play and sometimes even sleep (like right now, bless their little hearts), most days just don’t go according to plan.
None of this is to say that I don’t love what Harrison and Raegan are teaching me about what it means to be smack dab in the middle of toddler- or baby-hood. There are wonderful parts of each and every day. But there are hard parts of lots of days, too. And while I’ve never tried to sugar coat that reality, I’ve never quite understood it so well, either. I’ve spent a lot of time blaming myself and trying to get over myself and just plain forgive myself for all that goes wrong in our day-to-day, but I’ve never thought about the other side. So last night, when Ben said, “We have to forgive them over and over.” it just clicked. Please don’t read that as in we’re now blaming our children for our problems or saying that there is something wrong or bad with either of them. We are not and there is not. But I do think there is some value in learning to forgive them for going against this vision I have in my head. Their vision of the world is beautiful, too, and I just need to see that more often. Maybe if I can do that, I can let go of some of the pressure I feel or some of the anger I experience when things inevitably go against plan. I can’t keep hanging onto those expectations; otherwise, we really are going to have some lasting problems and issues in our family.
So today I’m thankful that during this summer and in this lifetime, Ben and I have each other to help one another understand and navigate this foreign country known as parenting. I am also thankful that Harrison and Raegan, my two little active balls of super cute, have each to help one another understand and navigate this foreign country known as living with parents who are Planners.