Here’s the truth…being a parent is HARD! I know this is nothing new. I know that so many parents come to this realization after finding themselves with one or more children and wonder, “what did I get myself into?” Parenting is not all flying kites, building sandcastles at the beach, baking cookies, and sweet night time snuggles. It is calming your child when you made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when they only wanted jelly, it is asking your child for the 10th time to step away from the hot oven, it is finding your children hanging from the chandelier (yes, really!), it is screaming your child’s name as they run toward the street when you turn away for a fraction of a second, it is relentlessly putting an over tired child back in their room for the 20th time, it is still waking up in the middle of a night for a child 4 years after they have been “sleeping through the night,” it is sitting and letting them run circles or turning on the TV because you just don’t have the energy anymore, it is comforting your child when cliques start at preschool (really, already?), it is dinners thrown on the floor because it’s not what they want to eat, it is sitting up all night with sick children and then realizing you still have to make it through the next day…I could go on and on of course. Then of course there is everything you have to maintain a home and keep everyone dressed and fed: the endless laundry, the endless dishes, always having to think of what you’re making next for a healthy meal or snack, realizing only after you buy a new house how much yard work will be involved, putting toys away just so you are able to walk through a room, and that is of course the minimums. You rarely have a moment to yourself and for two introverts, that has become a source of resentment in a way. It makes finding quality time to spend as a couple nearly impossible. Then there’s the money…where does it go?! We went from a two income, two person family to a one income (mine is so negligible), four person family in a matter of 15 months. To maintain sanity, we eat out far more than we should. We bought a mini van to fit this family of 4 better for our long road trips to see family. We bought and moved to a bigger house and a much better school district…for the kids. We send them to preschool, which is of course more expensive down in this nicer area of town. The money stress is real. There’s always more too, whether it be a sick pet, a new medical diagnosis, impending surgery, new work obligations, etc, it never ends.
You may be thinking to yourself (since most of you are parents!), this is nothing new, we know this and deal with it every day. Here’s the kicker. I feel extremely guilty. We put so much work into becoming parents. We went through so much to adopt these two wonderful, adorable, smart, funny children. I don’t feel I have the right to feel overwhelmed or especially resentful. I should feel thankful and gracious that we have been given the gift to be these children’s parents. We were chosen, not only by God, but by a birth mother that loved them so much she knew she wanted the best for them and she wasn’t going to be able to provide that. I feel everyday that I just need to buck up and embrace the life I have been given…the life I wanted!…but it is sooo hard. I chose to be a stay at home mom and I will never regret that decision, but I feel like I have lost a piece of myself. We have both struggled with depression off and on, trying to keep everything going and ultimately provide the most love and most opportunities we can for our children.
But, as Dory says, we “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” and try to keep our heads above water. The saving grace…our two beautiful children. That’s right, the thing that ultimately causes all the stress and struggles, they are the reason we keep going. It’s the joy on their faces when they see the beach for the first time. It’s the silly faces and dances they make up for you. It’s the “I love you” called out to you from their bedroom after you have tucked them in for the 5th time. It’s the cuddles and hugs. It’s the amazement on their faces when they learn something new. It’s the amazingly out of tune, but oh so cute, singing of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. So, here it is…parenting is hard, so very, very hard…BUT…parenting is the most rewarding job I will ever do and I love this family we have created. I love Scott even more than ever as we struggle through and support each other in this new stage of life together. There will be some days that are harder than others, but we must try to wake up each morning and try again. Here’s to all the other parents struggling out there. Please know you’re not alone and please know that it doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. If you find yourself struggling more days than not, please seek help. We all need a little help now and then, and your children and family deserve the best you that you can be.