If you’re out there wondering if things get better after you lose the booze, I’m here to report that it actually does. It really does.
We all know that parenting is difficult. We put crazy expectations on ourselves to serve healthy food, to limit TV, to spend quality time with our shorties (not in front of the TV). We have to make sure they have toys (but not too many or they might get spoiled), clothes, regular doctor’s appointments, healthy boundaries, and self esteem (but not too much or we may turn them into narcissists). It’s enough to make the average parent’s head explode if you think about it too much. It’s enough pressure to drive even the most balanced among us to drink.
I’m learning to take my parenting in bite-sized pieces, it’s the only way I can swallow it without choking. Since I can’t drink or do insane amounts of blow because, apparently, cocaine is also off limits -yeah, whatever, I’m finding that the thing that keeps me sane is lowering my expectations.
Yesterday I provided organic chicken and a buttload of veggies for the kids to eat. The day before that I bought Elby another pair of shoes since her feet are growing faster than Brangelina’s family. Today I plan to take Elby to get a frozen yogurt after school cause I’ve got those kind of parenting chops! Last night I played “open the door” “close the door” with Mattie and Sadie for fifteen minutes straight – completely sober! And then I gave myself a huge pat on the back.
Really, if you set your standards a little lower, you may end up surprising yourself with your competence. Where I used to be gripped with anxiety over all the things I wasn’t doing, I’m now able to sit back and know that although my kids are zoning out watching Diego for the fifth time in one day, they are also madly loved and cared for to the best of my ability. Is it possible that my new found bliss has a lot to do with my twins approaching the more do-able age of two? Sure, anything’s possible, but I prefer to believe I’m just becoming more evolved.
Last night Elby was having trouble getting to sleep. Jon and I were lying on the couch watching Mad Men like everyone else with decent taste in TV programming, but we had to pause it every few minutes when Elby came padding down the hall to report her latest disaster.
Elby: I need to tell you something. (long pause) My pillow fell.
Me: Okaaay. Can you pick it up?
Elby: No. I need daddy to help me.
ten minutes later…
Elby: I need to tell you something. I smell dumplings.
Jon: Here eat one and go on back to bed.
Elby: Okay. But I need to tell you something. Can you also save me one for my lunch tomorrow?
ten minutes later…
Elby: I really need to tell you something. Do you know what happened to the spider that was in the bathtub yesterday?
Me: Don’t you mean I need to ask you something?
At 10 p.m. we hadn’t heard from her in over an hour so assuming she was sleeping I poked my head in her room to make sure. I found her laying in bed eyes wide open staring at the ceiling. Her Burl Ives story CD had been restarted for the third time. I walked over to her bed, looked down at her and whispered, “You having trouble sleeping, bug?” She nodded.
“You can sit with me if you want to, mommy.” So, I sat down on the edge of her bed and rubbed her back. “Do you want to lay in my bed with me for a few minutes?” she asked so sweetly.
I snuggled next to her and stroked her hair which smelled of Suave mango shampoo from a fairly recent hair washing. In less than five minutes her eyes closed, her breathing slowed and she was fast asleep. I layed there with her for another ten minutes taken aback by a wave of emotion for this beautiful, smart, perfect little creature that only came out of my body less than five years ago. I felt honored to be the person with whom she feels safe enough to shut her eyes and drift off to her dreams. I hope I’ve earned it.
This is why parenting is hard. It’s so hard because the rewards are so great.
I’m glad I don’t drink because I would’ve missed that.