Juliet is one entire month old today. I can’t believe it. The most overused parenting phrase in the history of time is: it all goes by so quickly. It’s popular for a reason. It’s true. This morning I was sipping my (2nd) cup of coffee and thinking about how life has changed for us. How I’ve changed. Dane is running around the living room yelling. He doesn’t have an inside voice–well, if he does, I haven’t heard it. Elaina is sitting quietly on the couch watching Curious George. She takes a break from Curious George to check out TimeHop with me–one of her favorite things to do. Juliet lays on the couch in my lap awake, but calm and quiet. Marvin went back to sleep after waking up to make my coffee (men need more sleep than women, I’m convinced). I can’t even believe what my life looks like now.
I’ve written a lot about all of the anxieties I experienced with Elaina and somewhat with Dane. I don’t want to go in to all the ways that I was crazy. Go back and read if you must. Marvin and I spend a lot of time laughing now about those days. Constant anxiety all the time. Constant. I really struggled with motherhood. I really did. And, when I wasn’t struggling with motherhood I was struggling with what OTHERS thought of my children–what they thought of me. What did they think of my parenting. What did they think of the way I spoke to my children. What did they think? Approval. I sought out alot of approval. If I heard enough that other people thought I was a good mom then I was ok. If Elaina was a perfectly behaved robot then I was ok. If I cared more than other moms then I was ok. I could never relax. It was exhausting.
Elaina made me a mom, but with Juliet I BECAME a mom. I am perfectly ok with how things go now. If I go to WalMart and Elaina is asking three million questions and Dane is screaming and Juliet is fussy, I’m ok. File it under a difficult trip to WalMart and keep moving along. There will be difficult trips and fabulous trips. Keep moving forward.
We went to dinner with Marvin’s family this past week and Dane wanted to get out of his seat and run around the restaurant. He cried ALOT and LOUDLY because we wouldn’t allow him to. Meanwhile, Juliet is (uncharacteristically) upset and cannot be calmed down. A few years ago I would’ve been brought to tears and left the restaurant in a hurry at the first cry. What did the onlookers think? Children should be seen and not heard and my kids were making SURE they were heard. How embarrassing. Now? No. Hey, onlookers! Do you hear Dane throwing a fit? Yeah, sometimes kids throw fits when they don’t get what they want. Sorry. Hopefully you have kids so you understand. If you don’t, oh well! Alrighty, gonna finish my salad now! Thanks!
Do you know what happened? I realized that my children are NOT a reflection of me. Wait, what? That sounds crazy, Diana! Of course your children are a reflection of you! Well, you’re right. They are. Kind of. I spend alot of time with them. I make rules and raise them and do all of that mommy stuff I’m supposed to do. I make mistakes and yell and mess up, too. But, my children are their own people! They have good days and bad days. They are angels some times and holy terrors others. They get hangry or cranky from missed sleep. They aren’t robots, they are people. And I cannot control another person. I can help them to navigate through life. I can instill morals and principles and rules and all that jazz, but at the end of the day I cannot MAKE them act any way. And, if they act like aliens in a restaurant I can give them consequences, but I cannot control them. And if they act like aliens, it’s NOT a reflection of me because they are their OWN people. And if they act like aliens and some onlooker wants to judge me, they can, doesn’t bother me. I know I’m doing the absolute best that I can. It’s really alright. It’s such a liberating feeling. It took me 5 years of motherhood to get here, but I’m here.
The Cry Room is the perfect example. We have been banished to the Cry Room at our parish because: Dane. Pretty much the same families sit in the Cry Room every Sunday. There’s the father and son combo. They sit in the back with their Sonic bag and a videogame playing on Dad’s phone. There’s the family with girls. The girls color on the floor in the corner. And there’s us. Dane screams loudly when we don’t let him out of the row. He tries to rip the missal and takes off his shoes. He’s loud. He’s the loudest one in there. Marvin sometimes gets to hear the homily and sometimes I get to hear it. We never BOTH get to hear it. Because: Dane. Why am I telling you this? I’ve seen/heard others talking about OTHER parents in Church. “Did you see x, they were letting their little boy EAT, that’s a bit much, MY kids don’t eat in Church” (said with sanctimonious pride). That’s a comment I would’ve made, too. You know what I realized? Maybe my kids don’t eat in Church, but Dane screams in almost every situation and I CANNOT keep him quiet (trust me, I have tried). I bet there’s someone out there who has watched my family go through life and think “Did you see Dane, they were just letting him SCREAM, that’s a bit much, MY kids don’t yell!”.
As parents, we all deal with things. Some times OTHER parents have to deal with things we don’t have to. I have a close friend who has 4 littles. All of her kids are born with this innate physical aspect to them. They are rough. They weren’t taught to be rough. It’s just them. They see a shove or a push between friends as an act of endearment. Five year ago Diana would’ve thought “why can’t she calm her kids down, why can’t she control them”. That mother, my friend, is a good mom! She is! She’s a good mom who has to deal with different challenges than I do. As parents we all deal with different challenges. Maybe another mom has a kid who never yells. She looks at my Dane and thinks “why can’t she get him to be quiet”. Trust me, lady, I’ve tried, no dice. We all have different parenting expectations, different kids and different things that come easily to us or are challenging. So, remember that the next time you look at a family and think “Why can’t they just x”. Maybe they don’t want to. Maybe they’ve tried and their kids aren’t robots. Maybe it’s an off day. Sooooo many maybes. So many. Don’t judge the mom next to you. Or go ahead and judge if you must, she probably doesn’t care anyway–she has enough going on.
Anyway, the purpose of this blog post is just to say: Hi blog readers! We’re a family of 5 and we’re settling into that new milestone beautifully. I’ve calmed down. My kids are sometimes crazy. I love this life. I’ve settled into motherhood and I’m happy. I hope you’re happy, too! And, I hope you’ll take a second to remember we’re all trying to stay afloat the next time you think “why can’t they just…” when a family nearby is struggling with something that isn’t a challenge for you.