Happy Father’s Day!
When my babies were very young and we lived in a cozy starter house, my husband parked his work van in the alley behind our yard at the end of his work day. More than once, I stood watching out the kitchen window, calling my husband on his cell phone when he pulled up, urging him to please come straight in, unloading supplies and tools into the dilapidated, single-car garage later. The memory has faded of what led to my “get the hell in here now” condition.
If you’d asked me back then if I would remember the chaos, you would’ve received a, “Hell, yeah! I will never forget this and how it feels.” Now, those little boys are 23 and 24. I find myself reminiscing about when they were small, memories seen through rose-colored glasses of playtime at the mall or taking them to the little kiddie rides at the beautiful park in the center of the city. It takes a little more thought to wipe away the pink fog around the edges; truth is I was so exhausted by parenting these guys that I took them to playland and parks so they could play and I could just sit.
Thankfully, my parents were retired and available. We three were at their home at least once a week, and they came to my place regularly, giving me the opportunity to shop for groceries without two toddlers in the cart. My dad taught my kids to ride bikes when they were itty bitty and took them for walks. My mom played games and read. They were also occasionally my backup; I’d call when I was desperate and unsure of how much more I could take. What was I taking? Was it the volume? Them tag-teaming me with misbehavior? Maybe the part where I would change one kid’s diaper and the other disappeared to another room, quietly?
In the midst of the hamsterwheel of parenting, at all ages and stages, it is more than okay to ask for help. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, a playdate (which comes with its own set of issues, and not just between the children), getting the kids in their carseats so you can drive around, knowing they will fall asleep. I did that frequently subsequent to my two-year-old deciding he didn’t need a nap every day while the one-year-old still snoozed regularly.
You won’t be a perfect parent but you can be a really good one, and asking for some help or engineering a break for yourself is actually a gift to your kids, not a weakness. I know it feels like you’re going to be in the thick of it forever. It is going to be a while but once those days are gone, you’ll probably look back with fondness; hopefully, so will the rest of the family!
Sara’s education and experience: B.A. Ed; M.S. Counseling; teacher grades K & 2/3, educator for childcare providers, training in Positive Discipline and Growing, parent educator, program director of crisis nursery, including parent support, staff management & training, stay home mom 16 years with two sons born 19 months apart, medical transcription for 10 years in order to stay home, substitute teacher grades K through 12. Blogs about a wide variety of topics on survivingsara.net.