WHERE to begin…now with the older child in Kindergarten, I thought it a good time to start noting what we’ve learned about parenting in the 8 years of childrearing (2.5+5.5) we have under our belts. Not that any of you need to learn from us – rather, to create a Told You So document for the kids when they have kids (karma’s a bitch by the way). See the thing is, I am in awe of people who have more than two. If we had more than two we’d need a lot of land, a permanent baby nurse and an electric fence, for starters. So we stick with what we’ve got. As the daycare teachers say, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset!”
First, get a crew of babysitters. You need a team. Someone who can cover various workdays. One or two who are willing to stay late on weekend nights. Someone mercenary who is basically willing to answer the call at all hours. And make sure the kids like them. If the kid really doesn’t like them, you won’t either.
Next, find parenting books/resources that work for you. This works for me. It’s a little awkward in the middle of a heated interchange to tell your kid “Hold on! I have to look that up” but I’ve done it. Scoff if you will, but this parenting thing doesn’t come as naturally to me as others. I need professional help and I have a library of that. I’ve also developed the habit of reading a few pages on my way from work to pick up the kids – it helps me get into the right frame of mind.
Speaking of frame of mind, have you noticed that so much of parenting is really less about the child and more about you? Oh yeah dude, trust that if you have ANY issues (anxiety, fear of flying, Oreo’s addiction) that you were able to manage easily pre-kids, a 3 foot child is uniquely qualified to shine a bright light on that junk. Figure yourself out. Little cracks in your ability to be calm and mature become chasms and there you are, yelling at a being no larger than a smurf.
My husband accuses me of Projecting, a term I have come to hate but probably because he’s right (I call it Planning and Forecasting…whatever). But when it comes to kids this can be dangerous. See our daughter tussle with another child about a toy and in my mind, fast forward ten years and there she is in a stolen car doing donuts on our front lawn (another reason we are not likely to move to the suburbs – no front lawn). And then we get back to The Reasonable Place. See, the thing about parenting I’ve found is you feel the stakes are so high. It all matters so much and we (I) can put so much weight on the small things. What do we learn? Chill out and try try again.
Just know that once you have more than one almost everything in the house is about “Justice and Property Rights”. No words of learning or wisdom here, just calling it out because when we defined it this way rather than “Having two kids is about a lot of yelling and grabbing between them all the time” world got a little better.
Lastly, it’s all about you. The more you take care of yourself as a parent the better parent you will be (BTW, I am not talking about the parents who define this as “hey kids we’re taking off on a three month trip because we need ME time”). No, I mean the basics (find time to exercise, read, play a game, talk to a friend, have a sit down dinner without your kids).
Actually this is last, we’re learning to ask for help. Send the kids to a playdate. Do some tag team parenting – not everything needs to be done as a whole family. Find a friend who you can talk to about this stuff with no judgment. As my friend Suna poetically says “it takes a village, yo!” I could not agree more.
This is a big learning process for me and a lot of times it’s not easy – so it’s with optimism that I write Part 1 – as they get older it is bound to get way more complicated – and I am hopeful that as time marches on there will be more Aha! moments…because it is so wonderful and it goes so very fast.