I had always heard that parenting is a journey, but I never really understood what it meant until becoming a parent myself. I mean, I always knew there would be challenges, but nothing could have prepared me for this overwhelming feeling of cluelessness I feel on any given day. Where is the instruction manual? Did my sweet little love not come with a step-by-step guide to success??
There are some days I think I have this parenting thing in the bag; I feel great, and my baby is a bundle of giggles and smiles. I am showered, out of my PJs AND my hair is done. Laundry is folded and dinner is in the oven at the end of the day. Yeah me! Other days, I just can’t seem to get into a rhythm; My baby won’t stop fussing and crying, I am still in my PJs when my husband gets home and I can’t even remember if I had the chance to go to the washroom (seriously!). Those are the days I retreat to a quiet place and just have a good cry.
Today was one of the harder days. There is no other way to put it. I think there is this misconception that parenting gets easier as time goes by….as baby gets older (if not a general misconception, definitely something that I believed). Now that I have been with my little love for just over 7 months, I am of the mind that it doesn’t get ‘easier’ it just gets ‘different’. There are definitely little wins sprinkled throughout everyday, where I learn something new about my little love that makes both of our lives easier moving forward. When I finally think I am winning the race though, I am hit with a set back (or two, or three, etc…).
All it takes is that bad afternoon or a long, sleepless night to remind me that I am never really going to have a complete handle on things.
For someone who is used to having control over her environment, I think this is the aspect of parenting that drives me crazy the most. I am an extremely patient person. My husband is often astonished by the amount of patience I exude when dealing with my little love. I can change countless diapers, clean spit ups/ random messes…even the nighttime wake ups aren’t so bad because I expect them. But what drives me insane is that I can’t rely on any one day being the same. I can’t depend on my little love to like (or hate) the same things from one day to the next. How in the world am I supposed to provide a comforting and nurturing environment for my little love if I can’t pin down what will comfort and nurture him?? One day it is cuddles, the next day it is soft singing….I think (?)…the next day is I HAVE NO IDEA. All of this flip-flopping is making me question my abilities as a mother.
In my desperation, I have even found myself looking into my little loves big beautiful brown eyes for a very frank conversation that goes a bit like this:
Me: WHAT DO YOU WAAAAAAAAAANT??
Little Love (LL):…..
Me: Just tell me what you want and things would be so much easier for everyone, I promise!
LL: **Cooing noise**
Me: Ugh, you are so darn cute!
Admittedly, these conversations would be much more fruitful if my little love knew what I was saying and could respond. I know I am not the only one trying to have these very civilized conversations with a 7-month old though, so I am not ashamed to admit it 😉
Could it be that this phase is all part of my little love trying to figure out who he is? This world is so big and exciting, but I guess for a new little mind things can be confusing. Maybe he doesn’t quite know what he likes/wants just yet. If this is the case, should I be celebrating my little love’s indecision as a way to navigate his way to self-discovery?
I always thought that comforting and nurturing was about making sure my little love’s main needs were taken care of (feeding, cleaning diapers, cuddling…that type of stuff). I guess what didn’t necessarily occur to me was that, just as important as the feeds, clean diapers, etc…, my little love needs a safe environment that allows for exploration and new discoveries. Now that I think about it, what I love most about my mom is not that she always knows the perfect thing to say or do (although she often does). What I really love is that she gives me the space to spread my wings while giving me the reassurances that she will always be there loving me.
In the midst of a hard day like today, I am glad for ‘tomorrow’s’. Tomorrow offers hope and opportunity. The hope that tomorrow will be better, and the opportunity for me to comfort and nurture my little love by letting him explore the world around him. Of course, there will always be plenty of hugs, kisses and cuddles, whether my sweet little likes it or not!