Sunday, February 13, 2011

2 years in...and some reflections

A little over two years in to this thing called "parenting" and I feel like I've learned a few things.  Overall, I've become much less judgmental and critical of others and myself.  I was your typical type A parent who thought they knew exactly what kind of parent they were going to be and exactly what kind of kid they were going to have and exactly how they were going to be raised.  Sure, some of those general ideas are still in tact but some of them aren't at all.

1.  Things are not as black and white as I tend to think they are.  Period.  Life, and parenting especially, is just more gray and that's O.K.  

2.  Some kids are just plain hard to raise.  This is not the fault of the parent, I repeat, this is not the fault of the parent or because the parent lacks good parenting skills.  It's also not because the child is rotten. This has been a big eye opener for me.  Some children are simply harder than others.  If your child is generally easy and you have more good days than bad, thank the Lord.  If your child is more strong-willed/high maintenance/needy or whatever you want to call it and you feel like most days are a struggle, pray for strength and get some supportive friends who acknowledge that your child is a tough one.  I find that when other people acknowledge my reality, it makes me feel better.  This is not to excuse bad behavior that should be corrected, it's just to say that some kids require A LOT more energy to parent well than others and that's O.K. 

3.  I'm more "career minded" than I thought.  This has been very difficult for me to come to terms with.  Here I was, a stay at home mom, doing what I had always dreamed of doing and yet I found myself frustrated, lonely and generally unhappy about the reality of a whole day with nothing to do but care for a 1 year old.  It's hard for me to even write this because so much of my pride did not want to admit that I wasn't actually loving my staying at home reality. (Disclaimer: not to be confused with not loving and adoring my child, just not loving the stay at home lifestyle with a very young child).  I put a lot of pressure on myself to love staying at home because I knew it was the "right thing to do".  And by the way, I still believe that.   

I still believe that parents need to raise their children and that a child's mother is irreplaceable in the early years of life.  However, what this looks like practically speaking has changed for me.  I personally am still committed to being home with my children when they are not in school.  I'm happy with that decision and I feel it's right for our family.  However, I'm pursuing some work from home ventures that are very fulfilling for me that require me to work outside the home a couple hours a week.  At this point, I have a babysitter come about once a week for a couple hours so I can get some work errands done and then Jackson covers any other time I need.  At this point in our life with pre-school aged children, a few hours a week outside the home is all we are comfortable with.  However, when my children are in school, I'm certain that I will want to increase my work load.  Before I had children I would have told you that I did not desire a career outside the home in any capacity.  The bottom line here is I've learned to give myself grace and that there's freedom in how every family works this stuff out.  What is right for us may not be right for you and that's O.K.  

4.  A full quiver for us might mean 2 kids.  If my mother-in-law is reading this she is probably cringing or crying :)  Of course, we will take it one kid at a time but we're thinking this baby might complete the Andrews family.  It makes me laugh to think that before Parks I went around telling people I wanted four, or five (gasp!) children!  Ha. Ha. Ha.  The joke was on me.  If I had four or five children I can honestly tell you I would be in an insane asylum.  You truly have no idea what kind of parent you will be until you have a child.  And, equally as important, you cannot predict what kind of child you will have.  Parks is a wonderful child, I had just underestimated the amount of sheer effort and energy it would take to raise him and frankly, I'm not sure I'm up for more than 2.  And guess what, I'm learning that's O.K.  

The overarching theme here as you can see is "It's OK!".  It's really ok.  I feel like there should be a Bob Marley song on right now in the background.  Two years of parenthood have mellowed me out, and I think it's a good thing.  


Ruthie said...

Mallory, thanks for sharing what you've learned! I know it must have been hard at times, but it's encouraging to hear how much you've grown in 2 years. I hope I can be self-aware and flexible when I become a parent :)

Laura F. said...

With every blog I gain more and more respect for you and your pure honesty! I have had MANY times where I read your blog and examined my thoughts and what I'm going through! Thank you so much! I really inspire me to's ok!

Rachel said...

I love posts like these! It's just the honesty and finding balance that is good to hear. I am somewhat opposite of you though! Prior to getting married, I never considered staying at home and pitied the women who did. Then I got married and about a year into it decided I wanted kids before I turned 30 (that was always my "plan" work for 8 years before having kids). Then I injured my knee and was on short-term disability for 3 months. Those 3 months changed me as a wife!!

Now I'm a SAHM to an almost 9 month old and I'm not sure if I ever want to return to work. Our house just flows better and I *surprising* feel complete without my work identity!

Basically, our plans we make when we're younger don't always work. It's so important to keep ourselves in check so that we don't make ourselves miserable just because we're too vain to admit we need a game change. For me, that meant coming to terms with JUST being a SAHM.

esther. said...

I will have to second what Ruthie said. It definitely has been encouraging to see your growth over the past few years. I chuckled when you mentioned going from wanting four or five kids to just wanting two. For the first two years of my marriage I was certain I would want four, possibly five kids but over time that has changed (and I don't even have one yet!). Like you said, you can't really tell what's right for yourself until you're IN the situation but it's good to see that expectations can be adjusted. Keep sharing your thoughts and advice!

Megan said...

Those are some great reflections. Thanks for sharing!