I always knew that having kids would take energy, consistency, and a lot of work, but ....well, all I have to say is that huge life transitions go above and beyond "a lot of work."
Dave and I have been through a bit of a culture shock, going from being a family of two adults and a dog, to being a family of two adults, a dog, a 6 year old, and an 8 year old. There is so much to learn in being a parent, and despite our best efforts, we do not yet have it all figured out. Please don't tell our kids (though we think they may already suspect).
The thing is, we also have two kids who have been through culture shock after culture shock as well. It's not just the fun of having a 6 and 8 year old, it's also the joys and trials of teaching them how their new life works. It's giving them time to adjust, yet knowing that if we don't enforce rules now, that will be (yet another) surprise for them later.
Helping them adjust to their new life has meant having conversations unlike any I had ever pictured having with my kids. The other day, we were outlining consequences for a particular issue we had been having with one of them, but had to stop in the conversation, and realize that they may have a skewed perspective of what "you'll be in big trouble" really means. We had to define safety vs. consequences, to help them realize they don't need to "fear" being in trouble, while still hoping that we have found consequences that are effective and that serve to train them to make better choices.
Sometimes, things innocently come out of their mouth that really throw me for a loop. The other day, one of them casually piped up from the backseat:
"So, Mom, who is your parol officer?"Definitely was not expecting that one. The kid that asked that was so surprised that I didn't have a parol officer, and wanted to know if I would get one later! When I explained that I didn't have a parole officer because I haven't made choices that land me in jail, I was told, "Good job Mom. I'm glad you're making good choices." Well, son.... you're welcome.
Another thing that I've been thinking about lately is how to continue being real and honest with how things are going, but with the understanding that my little guys will someday be big readers. At the same time, I think other parents out there may find relief in knowing that on tough days, they're not alone.
One particularly trying day, a friend called with a story of another boy's bad behavior. I never want to rejoice in children sinning, but is it ok to acknowledge that knowing another mom's kid (who is normally very good) also behaves badly sometimes was refreshing to this tired mom's heart?
So, I think I will work on finding some kind of balance. I will share the joys, and the trials, but with one caveat - sometimes I won't call them by their names.
When sharing joys, I will continue to call them by name. Someday, if they ever go back and read the story of how they became part of our family, I want them to know that they make my heart swell with love to a capacity I'd never before known possible.
During times when I share the trials, I will call them by Thing 1 and Thing 2 after the mischievous munchkins in Cat in the Hat. There will be no consistency with which one is which, it will change with each story.
No one prepared us for the intensity of this thing called "Parenting." It is a wonderful, terrifying, joy-filled, anxiety-ridden journey, and we are happy to be on it. Maybe someday we'll have everything figured out (if we get there, I'll let you know).
In the meantime, I was talking to my mom a couple of weeks ago, and at one point, sighed, and without thinking said, "Mom, do you have any idea how exhausting it can be to be a parent?"
With a kind smile, she patiently replied, "I have an idea." Apparently, raising my brother was a lot of work (I, of course, was all sunshine and roses.....just kidding Mom, I can already see your raised eyebrow when you read this...).
We truly are thankful to be parents. It's a gift we will always cherish, even on those days when I would do just about anything to be able to take a nap. But if it gets quiet on the blog again....well, you can probably assume it's a good time to say a little extra prayer for us!