When you are a parent and your child is going through a bad phase it is difficult to come to the logical conclusion that this too shall pass. The mind wanders to unreasonable thoughts like it is going to be this hard forever.
When the triplets were infants I was resigned to the fact that I would be woken up a couple times a night for feeding and burping. It wasn’t easy for me since I require a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. There were times when I would insist on feeding the babies with the other end of the bottle at 4am. There were late night swear battles between my husband and I caused solely by sleep deprivation. After 6 months, the triplets did a fairly good job of sleeping through the night every night. Ava, on the other hand, didn’t sleep through the night until she was 3 years old. Some nights we were up with Ava for 3 hours because she just didn’t feel like sleeping anymore.
The triplets are four years old and, and between the three of them someone is always waking me up in the middle of the night. Usually it is Preston with his midnight bloody noses and Violet with her nightmares, creating an interruption in my much needed recuperation sleep. With Preston’s bloody noses subsiding now that allergy season is coming to a close, Elsa has stepped in to take his place.
Elsa has been going through a spell of anxiety or underlying illness that I don’t know about. Either way, it has brought further and more intense sleep deprivation into my life. During the day, Elsa won’t let me out of her sight. She follows me around all day and if she can’t see me she cries out MOMMY in a hysterical tone. It turns out she doesn’t want me out of her sight at night either. So during the last week she has been checking in on me every hour to make sure I’m in my bed.
So just like zits don’t always end with the teenage years, kids sleeping badly doesn’t always end with infancy. Parenting is filled with highly unusual circumstances that I could not have anticipated. I am torn between knowing whether to wait out this annoying phase Elsa is going through in hopes that it will end as quickly as it came, or whether to punish her annoying behavior. I am inclined to go the path of grace and love her and help her work through her problems.
Being a parent is a constant process of changing the plan mid-game, fighting self-doubt, and ultimately trying to do right by your offspring so they can go out into the world being confident, happy and well-adjusted adults.
Before I became a parent, I had a much more idealistic view on having children. Here are my top 5 misconceptions about parenthood:
1. Children are only difficult for the first year and then it is “easy peasy lemon squeezy” as Ava would say, until they are teenagers. The reality is that every year brings a new set of challenges.
2. Being a stay-at-home mom will be kind of like a mini-vacation everyday with mimosa filled play dates. I did not anticipate the slave like qualities associated with the full time, plus overtime position.
3. Kids don’t come with manuals, as my mom likes to say, but I won’t need one because I’m a natural. Overconfidence is a bitch sometimes. One can never be prepared for parenthood until the stork arrives on your doorstep with that bundle of joy and an abrupt reality check. Come on people, at least there could be a manual for managing the complexity of redheads.
4. I did not consider the fact that I will worry about my children forever. Long after they are out of our home, I will worry about whether they are safe, healthy and happy.
5. After 6 months, kids sleep through the night for the rest of their lives. In reality, each child is made differently in the sleep department. Some parents just luck out with children that are excellent sleepers.
When Elsa’s cling-on phase goes away there will be another child issue to resolve; this is part of the parenting package. Along with the issues, there will also be unending “I love you’s” and hugs and kisses and laughs. There is no other experience like being a parent that allows for the whole, unconditional exchange of love. This is what makes all of the misconceptions of parenting acceptable.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.