Patience truly is a virtue

Today I feel like a failure. I can’t be the only parent who ever feels like this. Like I am failing miserably at this daunting task. When they were babies it was so much easier. The hardest part was figuring out why they were crying or maybe lack of sleep. Why did people make it seem like babies were the hard part? That was easy peasy! And now I hear the teenage years are really when I’m in for it! Argghhh I might have to find myself a quiet place to hide during those years.

The thing is most of the time I feel like I actually am pretty good at this whole parenting thing. I enjoy it. Reading bedtime stories, baking with them, our Friday night movie nights snuggled on the sofa. Teaching them how to do things, sharing with them all the magic that life has to offer. It’s what I waited my whole life for. I am literally in love with them.

My feelings of inadequacy stem from my lack of patience. I am so quick-tempered. I promise myself every day that today I’m going to work on it. Today I will not get snippy. Today when my children go up instead of down, turn left when I’ve told them to go right, run when I’ve asked them to walk I will keep my cool. Yet inevitably once the chaos begins I feel my temperature rising.

The question is why? They are kids! They aren’t robots. So they splash me in the bath? So they jump in the bed? Is it really a big deal?

No it’s not a big deal. Yet every time it happens I get flustered. As they are jumping all over me and my no’s, stop’s and my don’ts are not being heard I can hear my voice becoming quicker, the tone going up a few octaves and I know what comes next. I’m going to yell. If I do raise my voice my immediate reaction is regret. I know as soon as it happens that there is a better way to deal with this. If I know there is a better way to deal with it why am I not dealing with it in that better way??

I’m jealous of those parents who are able to stay calm when their kids are trying them. Those who peacefully talk their kids down from a tantrum. Wait those parents exist don’t they? Or am I imagining it? Even the best of parents have to lose their cool sometimes don’t they?

In the grand scheme of life these little things are not important. Having said that my children still need to learn to listen, to follow rules, that they don’t run our home and that they need to respect authority. I am still trying to figure out how that happens. They are strong these two little beings. They have willpower. They have cuteness on their side. They are a tag team. Worst of all they come armed with tears! TEARS!

Thing is that my instinct is to yell. It’s what I’m used to. It’s what I know. I’m loud in general but when I’m angry, anxious, flustered I become even louder. I NEED to figure out a better way. I know there is a better way.

I am perfectly aware that I’m going to make my mistakes as a parent. I just didn’t know that it was going to make me feel so inadequate to make them. This is the most important thing I’ve ever done and that means it’s going to take the most efforts. I’m going to fall down a lot. I guess I just have to keep picking myself up. This parenting thing is messy. It’s beautiful and wonderful and brings me so much love that I am literally bursting. Yet at the same time there is this side of it that is completely disheveled. Being honest about the challenges that I face is a part of what’s making this job easier.

So today I admit that sometimes I feel like a failure. Today is one of those days. This isn’t the last time I’m going to feel this way is it?

To the father of my kids

Mr.C. took a leave of absence from work when Mr.T was born. He had saved up all his vacation time so excited to spend as much time as possible at home with our newborn baby. What we weren’t prepared for was that our son would be born requiring life-saving surgery within days of his birth. No amount of planning could have readied us for the fact that he would spend six whole weeks in hospital, much of that time spent in the NICU. His vacation time came and went and there was no sign of our little man coming home. He couldn’t imagine going back to work, so he took a leave of absence, and sat beside the little incubator day after day, quietly standing by his son.

Mr.T. eventually was released from hospital and his dad proudly drove us home, keeping to the speed limit and checking on us periodically through the rear view mirror. Mr C had waited his entire life to be a dad and he jumped right into it finding his place comfortably. There was nothing he wouldn’t do. He woke up in the middle of the night for feedings, changed dirty diapers and would almost clamber over top of me to be able to participate in bath-time.

One day he decided he would take our son to a baby playgroup that I normally attended. He came home disappointed declaring he would not be going back. He wasn’t warmly welcomed with inviting words but instead there were whispers and stares. Not one Mum spoke to him. He left discouraged feeling judged and unwelcome. It was our first but not last experience with Daddy discrimination.

Sometimes it was harmless, someone assuming he didn’t know how to change a diaper, or walking right past him to hand the baby over to me when he was fussy. Perhaps before being invited for a night out a friend would ask “can he handle babysitting for a couple of hours?”  When we announced that he would be taking the last few months of our parental leave most were shocked. Some asked why? A friend even asked if he knew what he was getting into, warning him that he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

I’m not sure this kind of Daddy discrimination is uncommon. We expect our partners to play an equal role in parenting but I don’t think as a society we treat them as equal parents.

Let me make it clear, he is a wonderful father. From our time in the NICU up until today he has not turned away from any daddy duty no matter how messy, scary or tiring.

I consistently turn to him, recognizing that there are just some things he does better. If there’s a boo boo that needs to be handled, he is the one to turn to. I panic. Even with little hurts. I cry, I get frantic, I almost run in circles screaming. Daddy stays cool and if he’s worried he doesn’t show this face to our kids. He wipes up blood, ices sprains and Band-Aid’s like an expert. When they are sick I look to him to keep me calm. He’s just as good at being the loving daddy as he is the bad guy. He will play Candy Land for the hundredth time and he can sip a cup of tea wearing a tiara like an expert even though he isn’t well versed in tea party etiquette. I couldn’t ask for a better father for my kids.

To all of the fathers out there who consider their parenting duties just a part of their day, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day. Especially to my own wonderful husband who, only a few short years into the job, has already proven himself to the best of the best. We love you and are so happy to have you in our lives.

How do we measure our grief?

I often speak, on this blog, of the emotional trauma I experienced when Mr. T. was sick. It’s probably one of the few places where I have been completely honest about how it impacted me. How the whole experience caused my entire world as I knew it to collapse around me. How in the almost 5 years since, I haven’t fully been able to rebuild my world to where it was. I’ve come to realize that I don’t think I was ever supposed to go back to where I was. I have permanently changed.

In a conversation recently I was explaining to someone why I began writing again. This of course, required me to explain Mr. T’s illness and hospital stay. I prefaced the story by explaining that he was ok now. The person who I was speaking with said to me “Don’t do that”. At first I wasn’t sure what she was referring to until she said “Don’t minimize what you went through” It was like a light went on inside. She was right I don’t have to minimize it.

I had never before realized that I did this but I did! Almost every time I speak of the experience I almost sweep away the pain by explaining that Mr. T is ok now. I sometimes feel such a sense of guilt over my pain. To explain my guilt simplistically is that I feel like I don’t have a right to anguish over any part of my experience because Mr. T. is ok. Yes, there are some complications that we have to face and some scary possibilities for the future. But he’s here. He lives a normal life. Who am I to distress when there are mothers out there who have to continuously watch their children suffer? When then are mothers out there who had to say goodbye and had to let their angels go?Who do I think I am? I get to kiss him every night. I read him stories and I tickle his back before bed. I watch him play soccer and play house with his sister. He gets to push my buttons and get into mischief. I have always felt like I didn’t have a right to feel sadness.

Throughout the past years I have become aware that there are people who tired of hearing me talk about the experience. They didn’t understand why I was having trouble dealing because to their eyes Mr. T. had no lasting effects. Yet I still felt the need to talk about it. I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t let go. There was a constant ache in my heart. Yet as I continued to try to verbalize that ache I could feel the judgments. I could almost hear “Oh my god not again” It was when someone mentioned that I needed to get over it that I stopped talking about it and started to write about it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we feel like there is a chart for our grief and in order to make it onto this chart there is a list of criteria we must check off? We compare ourselves to others out there and think that because someone has it much harder than us that we aren’t entitled to feel sadness. Is this where our world has ended up? That even grief has become a competition? A sad little reality show where there is only one winner and only the most distressing story wins the right to openly grieve. Why would someone think they have the right to judge my feelings? Or to dictate how deep my worry should venture?

The conversation that started my whole change in thought was, as Oprah calls it, my light bulb moment. I will not apologize for feeling the immense anguish that I have felt. I do grieve. I grieve for the loss of that magical first baby experience. My heart aches a palpable pain every time I sit with Mr. T through another test, x-ray, needle…My wounds are my wounds to heal the way I need to heal them. They don’t need to be compared to anyone else’s heartbreak. We are all walking our own path and are climbing our own mountains. This is my mountain and with Mr. T, Ms. J and Mr. C by my side I will make it to the top. That I can guarantee.