I remember lying in bed with my husband crying our eyes out a few weeks after our first miscarriage. It was the worst feeling ever – emptiness, hopelessness and guilt. We had been trying for over a year and to hear on our 10th week sonogram, our child’s heartbeat is no longer beating, was such a heart breaker. Nevertheless, we persisted. 4 years later, a total of 6 pregnancies – 3 miscarriages and 3 babies born, we are now a happy family of five.
Looking back at the ‘old me’ I was so eager to have my own family. I had this vision that life was going to be easy. I was going to be a working-mom, my kids are going to be angels – of course since they’re our kids, and my husband and I are going to be the best parents ever!
Reality check, “having three kids or even one kid is hard!” My perception of raising kids until I had my own was totally out-of-whack. I thought I was going to be a “kick-ass” mother since I was such a cool aunt – “I’ve got this.”
Boy, was I wrong.
Here’s some ‘lessons learned’ for those parents-to-be or first-time parents:
- ARGUMENTS: Most of your arguments with your significant other is probably about your kids, and not so much about your relationship.
- INTIMACY: You must work hard at keeping your intimacy – trust me, the lack of sleep for several nights, you’ll rather get that precious cat-nap instead of a quickie.
- BRATTY KIDS: Your kids will be ‘brats!” No, it’s not that crazy mother who can’t control their kid at the grocery, they are all crazy at some point – even yours.
- MELT-DOWNS: Melt-downs can occur at any time! Have you also heard of ‘witching-hours’? Yeah, look it up, not pretty.
And here’s some tips to help resolve those problems (at least it’s worked for my family).
- ARGUMENTS: Just like getting prepped for getting married, make sure you discuss your ‘parenting’ roles and ‘parenting methodology’ on how to raise a kid. Yes – there is such a thing. If your partner is not on the same page, you’ll run into major issues like finger-pointing, resentment and possibly the horrible ‘D’. Remember – you guys are on the same ‘team’. Kids are wicked smart, and they will use your weakness to pit against you.
- INTIMACY: As we get older, intimacy becomes more defined as a need for ‘friendship’ or a ‘companion’. As parents, we need to know that someone’s got our back. If you can’t find that partner that will help you scrub the puke off the floor or take care of the kids when you are sick, your relationship will slowly dissipate. Also a reminder for all, many mothers and fathers – yes this is a fact, do experience some form of ‘postpartum‘. So, be sensitive of their needs. If you realize that they are exhibiting forms of behavior that is not normal to their true-self, acknowledge that as they may need professional help. As your kids get older and are more self-sufficient, you will find that intimacy will find its way back to you.
- BRATTY KIDS: Just like all human beings, kids live in their own world. Everything is ‘about me’ and ‘nothing is more important’ than me. So how do you fix that problem? We need to constantly remind our kids that this world does not revolve around them. Help them understand the struggle that others may go through, and they should be grateful for their health, home, and family. For younger kids, it’s harder for them to communicate, so they will lash out and become easily frustrated. Take note of this (confront them, eye-to-eye), acknowledge that they are upset, and you are trying to help them get through this – a great way to ease the frustration before a true melt-down occurs. I know this is extremely difficult, because I, myself can also get upset and frustrated. This is when I usually tell my husband, I need to walk away and come back when I am calmer (that means – you take care of the kids, I must leave before I go crazy). Note: make sure you discuss this with your partner before they think you are just abandoning your kids. I have also realized that putting kids on ‘time-out’ is not always the best way to handle the situation. It’s a temporary solution, works, but nevertheless, becomes repetitive and there’s no communication of apprehension of why and how to make things better. Always, after a melt-down and emotions have been dampened, discuss what happened, why it happened and how to not repeat it again. And saying “sorry’ is also a bonus. Usually, I would have to wait for a couple of hours to get the apology, however, we do get them eventually. (Yes – this can be applied to your personal relationship too).
- MELT-DOWNS: Kids will have melt-downs over anything! My kids have had melt-downs over simple things like the wrong color cups – damn those IKEA cups, or the inability to remember what they did in school that day – it’s like dealing with a teenager going through puberty! My approach would be to literally put yourself into ‘their’ shoes. How would you feel if you’ve had a long day and someone is up in your grill and all you want is just have some time for yourself? But like many other parents, or maybe just me, I like to make my kids happy, thus making my life easier. Thank goodness for my better-half, who is probably the better parent, enforces majority of the rules. Going back to topic #1 – Arguments. So how do we make this work? It’s an evolving process. Kids like routines and boundaries. Establish and communicate with your kids’ expectations for behaviors and see how that works for them. Listen to them and get some input from them. Yes – YOU are the parent – the kids know this, but at the same time, you also want to show and raise kids that can make their own decisions, and I am talking about the ‘sound’ decision that you want to raise as ‘adults’. For the younger kids, you’ll want to always be overly prepared. If planning on trips, plan for the worst and you’ll have all the arsenal you need when a melt-down occurs. Majority of the time, kids are just ‘hangry’, overstimulated or tired. Plan long road trips around their nap-times, have lots of different activities/games prepared – kids have very low attention-spans! Bring plenty of snacks and most importantly, make sure everyone has used the bathroom before leaving. Sometimes that still doesn’t work, so I make sure that part of my routine is to head to the bathroom first before shopping. Learn and adapt to new changes since there are so many stages that kids go through before they even hit puberty. I remember sitting in my car, breast-feeding my baby prior going to the next store and longing for the days where I can just pick up regular food.
When all goes awry and you’re in your room crying because you’ve had a fight with your spouse or feel overwhelmed, just remember that you’re not alone. Parenting is hard, and everyone does it differently. My advice is: ‘do you’. You are your worst critic and you are an awesome person and parent. Your kids will love you unconditionally and they will always think you are the best ‘mom/dad’ in the entire world.
We tend to not give ourselves enough credit that we can raise little replicas of ourselves.
If you can remember why you wanted kids, or all the struggles you had gone through to conceive/adopt, you will be thankful and blessed that you are able to experience theses minor bumps in parenthood. Times like this, makes us appreciate our parents a lot more. So if your parents are still alive, make sure to thank them for their patience and unconditional love for you.
Thanks again for taking the time to read this blog. Parenting is such a hard topic to discuss since everyone has an opinion. I hope you were able to take away some small tidbits on parenting and at least feel that we ALL have those crazy moments and we are all in it together. Also, a big shout out for love, respect, and admiration to single parents and parents to kids with disabilities – it’s a tough world and you’re amazing!
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We found Dr. Rosemond to be a huge help in knowing what to expect, what the kid is thinking, and how to handle a lot of situations. His latest columns can be found here: https://www.rosemond.com/Columns.html
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