In The Trenches: a realistic look at parenting

I had the privilege of returning to Texas for a visit last week.  It was so fun seeing so many old friends… and it was a little bit of an ego boost, if I’m being overly honest.  It seemed like everywhere we went, someone was asking for parenting advice.  People ooohed and ahhhed over my sleep training and discipline techniques.  Quite frankly, it was a nice change in pace from the constant internal berating I’ve been giving myself.  (Don’t pretend you don’t do the same. I’m starting to think it’s an ingrained battle all mothers struggle with.)

So I thought to myself, ‘Maybe it would be helpful for the masses to see a realistic portrait of my amazing parenting in action?’  So here it is.

must. survive. til. bedtime.

A few weeks ago, my precious babies were not feeling well on a Wednesday night.  So we made the decision: I’d stay home with my sweet angels while John went on to church.

As John was closing the door behind him, our two sweet, innocent children sprouted horns and fangs.  Immediately, Claire (age 4) was loudly demanding to be fed as Cam (age 21 months) ran around the room screaming like a banshee.  After a moment of negotiation with my favorite terrorist (something I usually won’t do), I set off to make grilled cheese sandwiches (Claire’s with Velveeta and Cam’s with goat cheese.)

I hurried through the cooking process, and as I placed the grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup on the table, I see that I am not the only one who has been busy…

mess

DVD’s had been dug out, laundry thrown around, pillows tossed, purse dug through…

I was beginning to doubt that these “angels” were actually sick.

As they ate their grilled cheese sandwiches, I cleaned.

Claire

See how innocent and sweet she looks as she sips her tomato soup?

Cam

This one at least looks as ornery as he is.

I finish cleaning the decimated living room just in time to clean the kitchen after dinner.  (Yes, I’m a slow learner.)  Somewhere in there, I heard Claire:  “MOM!!!  He dumped out all of his diapers!!!”

nasty diapers

I normally put all of his wet diapers in a trash can and save the diaper genie for the dirty ones.  The stripy trash can pictured here is what normally holds his diapers.  If you look past the doorway, you can see the pile of diapers on the floor.  Oh, and my toothbrush had been lovingly placed in the bottom of the diaper trashcan.  How sweet.

You can surely fill in the blanks for this story… I tried to not cry as I picked up the nasty diapers and disposed of my toothbrush.  I then held on for dear life and prayed for bedtime.  Everyone survived, and there is no remaining evidence of that day outside of my eye twitch.

What is the point of this story?  Despite your parenting philosophy, we all have our bad days.  On this particular evening, I went to bed exclaiming, “Mother of the Year!!!”  I lay in bed, wondering how I could have better avoided the chaos that had overtaken my house.  And then the answer came to me…

Get rid of the kids.

Orrrr you could learn to flow through and embrace the chaos.  Not every day is as off as the one from my story is (though some are worse!), and yet, every single day requires grace, humor, and love.

I am planning on writing out some of my thoughts surrounding sleep training and discipline soon, but before I get there, I want you to see…  I am human.  I am by no means perfect, and I do not think there is one perfect way to raise your kids.  Every child is different, and every parent is different.  If my parenting style is opposite of yours, please don’t leave this blog with the belief that I think you’re wrong and I’m right.  And on the other end of that, please refrain from demonizing me if I choose a different parenting style than you do.

Parenting is such a deeply personal experience.  Combined with the overwhelming responsibility to raise a human, we are also surrounded by constant judgment and criticism.  Please hear me: you are doing a wonderful job, Mom.  Don’t let that inner voice get the best of you… offer yourself the same grace you give to your children.  Now, go love that little one.  He won’t remember if he was potty trained by 18 months.  He WILL remember your unconditional and undying love.

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