It was one of THOSE (parenting) days…you know, the ones where you feel like, no matter what you do, you can’t get it right.
A little background to help set the stage: My two-year-old boy (Brooks) is, well, a two year old boy; we’ve been to the emergency room twice in his young life, and I’m shocked that’s it. Anything he can slam into, jump off of, fly face first into – he will. And at three years old, my daughter (Rhys) has proven that she will, one day, artfully negotiate the most intense hostage negotiations this world has ever seen, all while laughing…no crying…no happily singing…no definitely screaming…with the enemies, confusing them so much they’ll just have to give in.
So this particular day was on the heels of a week of no sleep because my ninja son discovered he could American Ninja Warrior out of his crib. In one swift, gymnastics-like dismount out of his crib, we went from having the best sleepers/nappers on the planet to no naps and a bedtime fugitive.As a mom who runs my own company from home, nap times were part of my livelihood. I was screwed.
Brooks on a good day is dangerous, and Brooks with no sleep was like a toddler Dean Winters in the Allstate commercials. Get my drift? He had fallen backwards down the stairs, became one with the coffee table, and slammed face-first into the basketball hoop we had – all by 9AM. Rhys, on the other had, had been in time out for approximately 48 hours straight; I can’t really recall the infractions, but I do know her high-pitched screams while perched in her time out throne had something to do with the repeated trips back. Me…well, I should have been in time out. I was a sleep-deprived, anxious, housebound mess, not getting any work done. The three of us alone together on this particular day spelled disaster in an infinite amount of ways.
At 9AM on this cold, winter day, I was already convinced of the following:
- 1. Brooks was never going to sleep/nap again.
- a. This was a moot point because at this rate, he was going to live in an emergency room for the rest of his life due to all these stunts.
- 2. Rhys was never going to be a productive, successful member of society because all of her time spent in time out was going to impact her social, emotional and physical growth.
- 3. Along with my mind (which was already laid off), I was going to lose my company. No way could I run this business full time, run a household, be a wife, be at home with my kids full time, and do everything even remotely successfully. Just not happening.
So, I did what any logical parent would do: I excused myself to the bathroom and cried. At this point, I had my last conclusion: I was a bad mom. I cried harder, because since before I had kids, I had always had this irrational fear that I would be a bad parent or that my kids would hate me for one reason or another. I called my husband who offered to come home and help me out. Appreciated, but not what I needed at the moment. So, I called my Dad – who and kicked some serious ass at the whole parenting thing. Needless to say, this was a parental game-changer for me. With my kids jumping on me, I cried some more, told him how much I sucked as a Mom, and admitted that I couldn’t do it like he did. I defended myself, explaining how hard I tried to be the best Mom, to read to and snuggle my kids religiously before every nap/bedtime, to be there for them emotionally, to laugh with them, to make good on my promises – everything that he did – and it just didn’t seem to be working. I was a mess, my kids were just not behaving, and I felt like I was driving this proverbial parental vehicle and had totally lost control. His response?
He chucked (#nothelpful), and said something that I will never ever forget, and think about often: “Katie. Parenting is one big Hail Mary pass. You’re down 41-45 with :01 to go in the game (leave it to my Dad to throw in a little Boston sports reference), and toss a long bomb into the end zone. You’ve prepared your whole life for that game; you showed up to practice, worked hard, and hope that all those moments will help land this pass where it needs to be to win. Parenting is no different. You do everything that you can to make sure your kids thrive. You’re there for them, you instill in them your beliefs, give them everything possible to help them set and achieve their goals. You feed them, nurture them, love them, and right them when they’re wrong. At the end of the day, like that pass, you have to hope that it’s all enough. You can’t steer them through life entirely. We have to let that ball go and know with 100% confidence that we’ve done everything we could possibly do as parents and just pray it’s enough.”
Brilliance. Right? Since day one of being a Mom, I have learned one thing: expect the unexpected. As a quintessential type-A person, this was overwhelmingly impossible to accept at first. But, this football reference could not have been more perfect. We give as much as we possibly can, and we give it all. It’s what parenting is all about. We have our bad games (see above), and better yet we have MVP-worthy games. We earned this starting position in life, and should take comfort in knowing that this – in and of itself – is already enough.
Whether it’s the stress of bringing home that newborn (are they eating enough? Sleeping enough? Being changed enough? Developing appropriately? Breathing??) – or raising a teen (driving, sex, drugs, peer pressure, alcohol, social media, reputations, grades, developing identities) -our kids will be fine. We will be fine – because we care, we love, we cry, we snuggle, we nurture, we support, we wrestle, we juggle, we learn, we struggle; it’s all part of this wonderful, speedy game of parenting. Touchdown.