Not only did I pretty much nod and laugh my entire way through both of these articles, but I was saying out loud… “THAT’S ME!!” And, we all love reading about ourselves (be honest, you love it!) so I thought I’d share my own Parenting Fails, well maybe not FAILS in the true sense of the word, but certainly some right cracking pot holes along the journey!
We’ve ALL been there. We’ve ALL been that person that JUDGES other parents. Some of us out there are still doing it. Some of us who aren’t parents are doing it without even knowing it, and some of us LOVE to do it. To be honest, I’ve done it, and I still do it but by damn I try not to let judgment into my train of thoughts. It’s a beast and it destroys so much of all the wonderful things in our life. And if you let judgment in, you may as well start peddling backwards on that high old bike you came riding in on because one day, you’re going to fall flat on your ass and there’ll be no one around to pick you up. So just stop while you can and take a look from someone else’s shoes!
With that out of the way, there were SO many RULES my hubby and I had decided on well before we even had Archer. The usual suspects were there… Never eating junk food, never watching television, never being rude, always using manners, always talking nicely to adults, never running in shops, never throwing tantrums, never swearing… oh god, the ‘never’ list was a mile long. And then the ‘always’ list was just as bad. Always brush your teeth, always eat at the table, always sing songs in the car, always play outside…. Our child was pretty much going to be born into the next military camp of family fun! Ha! What a cack!
And then you meet them. You actually meet your own child. Your very own, one of a kind, unique little piece of you. With eyes that tell you stories about yourself. And a little voice that only knows love for you and an imagination that you only dream you had again. Your world is flipped right upside down, inside out and and thrown into an entirely new universe you never knew existed! And those rules… ha!
Routines, rules, expectations, judgments, boundaries and everything in between just become a big blur as you try and figure your way through the foggiest years of your life. Parenting is not something you just master after reading some magical book, or website or listening to some theorist fluff about with big words about what to do and how to do it. Newsflash, they don’t know YOUR child. No one knows your child the way you do. And that’s the point… parenting doesn’t come from a book, parenting comes from you and what you know. Not what you think you know from reading or watching others, what you truly now, deep down where it matters. Because YOU know your child and they know YOU. It’s a match made in heaven, a perfect synergy of souls that are meant to work it out together. I remember telling Archer in his first few days of his life that I was going to make a shitload of mistakes, and that some days he’d just have to be a bit patient with me while I worked it out. This was so true, and a big part of me wished I’d tattooed that on my hand because I sure as hell forgot this in the depths of sleep deprivation and post natal depression. It took me a while to get back to my own wisdom, and long while actually, but Archer just knew I’d come back. He knew I’d get it eventually – clever little bugger!
So, as I sit here typing away, he’s asleep on our couch, because that’s where he likes to sleep during the day. Nope, I couldn’t give a fat rats clacker that he’s not in his bed. He hasn’t slept in his bed for, well, I couldn’t tell you how long because we love having him in our bed at night. Yep, as I write this I know there are people screwing up their faces, judging their little judgy faces off but hey, they don’t know Archer and I’m glad they don’t! They don’t deserve to know him! If you did know him well, you’d know how wonderful it is to see him sprawled out and happily dreaming in our bed. He wakes up laughing and goes to sleep laughing. The three of us are happily in sync with each other that it sometimes scares me! He’ll go into his bed eventually. Yep, we have some horrible nights but there’s always the couch… and don’t worry about our intimacy, let me tell you… we are very inventive!! Ha! (I can see my poor husband cringing at me blogging about this!!) Sorry hun!
And yep, I’ve fed him ice-cream for breakfast some mornings just to get him out the door.
And I’ve let him have choc chip biscuits for dinner while he’s watching tv in his muddy gumboots.
And he’s dropped the F bomb in front of us, in context, and I nearly died, but when he explained where he heard it we had only ourselves to blame. (be careful what you say when you’re driving… just a heads up!! And… to re-assure the Judgy Mc Judge’s out there… he’s never said it again after I explained it was a made up word!!!)
And I’ve dressed him in dirty clothes to go down the street because it was way too painful to even contemplate getting him changed.
And I could continue with my parenting pot holes but you know what, he’s amazing! He is well and truly loved, and he loves back twice as much. His sense of humor is years beyond his age and he has some incredible relationships in his life. He can tell you every name of every sea creature and his fascination with whales is infectious.
So, I love our parenting pot holes, I’m glad we broke all the rules and I’m even more glad I threw out the ridiculous parenting books early on, because I’m sure I’d be pulling my hair out wondering why he’s not like the kids in these books. He is his own book and my husband and I are the luckiest people in the world.
I’m not suggesting here that parenting is easy either. It’s the most challenging career change I ever made. And there are days where you question absolutely everything you do. A perfect example of this was a few weeks ago when Archer got invited to his first ever ‘day care’ bday party. Firstly, I actually have a bit of an issue with this, as these kids are only 3 and really, they just play ‘around’ each other, not actually with each other. But he was excited about it so we went along. And, he was really tired and shitty before we went so it made for an exciting day! And, my beautiful little angel threw the worlds biggest wobbly right in the middle of playing the quietest game of pass the parcel. In a room of about 50 people, of which I knew 3! Huge wobbly. Stand up, stamp feet, cross arms and grunt… walk off, sit down and ignore the game completely. Did I mention it was really quiet! Yep, I’m pretty sure you could hear my heart stop beating as I just calmly said ‘ignore him and lets keep playing!’.
Shit, I think I died twice on the inside. God only knows what my face must have looked like. This was a test. Another Archer Test that he thought I needed to learn a lesson through. He’s good at doing this to me. Throwing me life lessons in the most public arenas!
After the game, there was cake, he didn’t want any. We just grabbed our lollie bag and left. As quick as my feet would carry me. Once we got home he flaked it on the couch and slept for 2 hours, I was furious.
Add to the mix, the arrival of the month of August which is a shocker for me as it annoyingly brings back memories of being sick and all the shit that came with Archer’s birth. The closer it gets to his birthday, the more flashbacks I get. So, already feeling shit, add the public tantrum to the mix and you have a fragile mama! I debriefed with hubby and started to feel a little more relaxed about the whole situation. I did however start to question our decision not to have any more children. Was I doing the wrong thing by Archer. Did he have this huge tantrum because he doesn’t know how to be social with other kids… oh my mind started spinning.
Then, 60 minutes showed the story of Mary Coustas and her heartbreaking journey into parenthood.
Well, if you watched this, or have read about this you will know that words are not even enough to describe the agony and pain. I howled my way through the segment and my husband firmly questioned me ‘why did you even watch this?’. And I explained to him that I had to watch it because I knew there was going to e a happy ending. I needed to witness this hope that sprung out of such a despairing story. We can relate to it. Everyone can. We all know someone who is going through this, or has been effected by pain like this. And all the while, it kept spinning around in my head that maybe I needed to push through my own pain to give Archer a sibling.
This destroyed me.
I cried all night on the shoulders of my husband and we talked about it for hours. He was terrified that I was about to go into a relapse of depression. I didn’t blame him, I was terrified too. Especially being the month of August and my fears about the flashbacks. But there’s nothing as therapeutic as a good old cry on your closest, most trustworthy best friend in the world. And there was, and hasn’t been any kind of relapse, thankfully, because of some beautifully wise people around me.
But then I started to realize that while all of this was going on in my head, the most important thing was happening right in front of me. Archer. Archer was happening and If I started to question or doubt or lose confidence in myself as a parent again, he would be the one that missed out. It would make NO difference at all if he had a sibling or not. He was here with us now, and we needed to be here with him.
Archer may never have a sibling, but then again he might, but he will never miss out. There are no rules that say he needs to have one and I’m ok with that. I can’t foresee the future and I don’t want to get stuck into worrying about it, that only brings anxiety. I can’t change the past and I don’t want to, that only leads to depression. I can however, live right now in the moment, and that… brings me peace!
So along the road I go, jumping head first into those muddy potholes, with my husband beside me and Archer running two steps in front of us. Loving every minute. Peaceful and Happy.
Tantrums and all!
These days are my days