Not parenthood in general, but new parenthood. Ahh. 5 1/2 years ago my husband and I became parents to not one, but 2 children - twins. Anticipation was high. Here we were in charge of these humans. We were responsible for molding them into making good or bad decisions. Eeek. The responsibility.
Well those thoughts quickly evaporated and all my thoughts were suddenly not about the big picture, but about pee, poo, sleep, breathing, laundry, feeding.....the baby(ies). Where did the big picture go? Well, when the fog of new parenthood lifts, the big picture will re-emerge and then you can reevaluate all that with a wee bit more reality now that you actually are a parent and have realized that parenthood is about survival - bottom line. If you make it to the end, you have succeeded. Parenthood is the hardest job...no it is not a job. It is not something that you can walk away from, or choose your hours for. Parenthood is a 24-7 life change. No one can tell you how to parent. No book can tell you how to parent. How you do things will emerge out of your past, your now, your goals and choices. No two parents will do things the same. Don't get me wrong, though, books and others can offer advice and suggestions, but how you take them and use, or don't use them is up to you.
I started out with all these expectations and goals. Then reality set in. What is my goal now? I want a strong, close family unit. Period. I want my children to form a close, lasting attachment to my husband and I. Did I see sending my kids to school getting in the way of this - yup. So, we home school. Do I have babysitters and daycare care for my children - No. We are fortunate enough to have enough family close by to help lend a hand or two when needed. And if I can't find someone to watch, then they go with me or I don't go. Unfortunately not everyone has the luxury of a husband with a good job, or family close by. However, none of the decisions we made have been easy. We have cut back big time in order to make our all this happen.
Last year I hit a bit of a low after I became pregnant with my fourth. I had felt we were in a bit of a groove. I was getting out and experiencing some 'Me' time - cooking lessons. Ha. Let me tell you, the search for the elusive 'me' time is ridiculous. I have found the search for time to myself results in negative feelings about my children. Not good. Where is 'my' time? Well, I was trying to figure out how I was ever going to get some when I realized that, like my initial family goals, my idea of 'me' time needed some reevaluating. 'Me' time is time spent with my kids. I only have a short time with them and then I will have so much 'me' time I'll be trying to get back into my children's lives. And if I have managed to achieve my goal of a strong family, my kids will want me to be apart of their lives. Do I need a break sometimes? You bet. Does it need to be an entire day, a weekend? Nope and in fact any day, or weekend I have spent away from my kids, I spend the entire time thinking about them, talking about them, or running errands for them. I have found that an 1 1/2 hours a week to do something of my choosing is all I need. Usually I end up preparing dinner in a stress free environment with not a stitch of noise going on around me, other times I get out and run errands, or I push it all aside and sit and read.
So, what about 'us' time? Same thing goes here. The search for 'us' time is ridiculous. 'Us' time has been transformed. Did you fall in love with going out to fancy dinners, to weekend shopping spree's, to wine tours? Yes, these things were wonderful experiences and I had a great time experiencing them with my amazing husband. But, these are just experiences spent with the man I love. 'Us' time is about communication. Not shopping, but being strapped into a seat beside my husband where we can talk and enjoy each others company. Are the kids still with us? Yup. My husband and I have found that when an evening out to dinner comes around that we spend the entire time talking about kids. In fact, our best chance for 'us' time tends to be in the evening with all media turned off, sitting on the couch, looking at each other and talking. True 'us' time . Are the kids around? Yup. Usually asleep, but still with us.
Parenthood. What a major adjustment and it continues to change. But it is a joy I would never give up.