Wide Open World


I'm tired, I'm just stumbling through this whole parenting thing, and that's okay

Parenting is hard, and I think that parents aren't given enough credit for the work that goes in. There is no "fits all" manual to raising a child.

You often hear "back in my day," references to spanking, seatbelts, helmets, etc. Then you hear studies of "this is good for your child, and that is bad." The world is constantly evolving and we are having a hard time keeping up-to-date as parents. Things that were once recommended, are no longer accepted. What works for one child, doesn't work for the next. We are driven by nothing but pure instinct and coffee. 

I never knew you could wear your heart outside of your body until I had a child. From the moment she was born, it was like someone carefully cut my heart out and put it into the form of a little girl. Her moments of happiness are my moments of bliss. When she's sad, it rips my heart in two. The hardest part is that much of the time she is sad, I can't fix her sadness. All I can do is comfort her. Then, there are the other times when she is sad. The times that I do have total control over.

The other day, Gaia misbehaved and then directed her anger in an inappropriate way. As a consequence, (I personally prefer this word over "punishment") I took away something she was looking forward to. As she sat there wailing, I wanted with every fibre of my being to give her back this thing that I had taken away but I knew that I had to be strong and stand my ground. It wasn't a cry of exhaustion or a pretend cry. It was a cry from the very bottom of her heart because she realized she had done something wrong, felt guilty, and then realized that something that was dear to her was removed. It was a cry of remorse, of sadness, and of defeat. And it hurt to watch. And it hurt to know that I was contributing to this sadness.

Maybe tomorrow I will research ways to help children direct their anger. Currently, I try to help her calm down and I always try to stay calm and collected myself through it all. No fighting fire with fire in this house because then the whole house burns down. We do breathing techniques, but that only helps if I guide her. We mostly just try to avoid reaching meltdown city entirely, but you know what? It happens. And you know what else? I'm still learning how to deal with it.

So here we are, parents wearing our hearts outside of our bodies, times are changing and we are racing to keep up them. Then throw in lack of sleep and we turn into emotional wrecks. But really, we are expected to be the collected ones so we often internalize these feelings.

Plus there are the parents that work full time. Or the parents that work away and have to deal with the sadness of leaving their families and the inevitable guilt. Then there are the parents that stay at home and have to deal with everything. Or the single parents. I remember a day when Gaia was younger that  I was so desperate for some peace to myself that I momentarily envied my friends who were divorced and had to share custody. I know that co-parenting is not some fantasy of having part-time children. It can be something much more difficult and frustrating, but in that moment I was blinded by desperation for a moments rest. 

Yes, people have been having babies since the dawn of time. Raising them is still way harder than we get credit for. 

I'm tired, I am just stumbling through this whole parenting thing, and that's okay.