A Little Parenting Perspective

posted by Andrea | 11/15/2013

parenting perspective

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season (which you might already know is my most favorite holiday of the year) I’ve been thinking a lot about everything I personally have to be thankful for.

It’s a lot… in case you were wondering!

Yes, you’ve heard me whine and complain about Nora’s lack of sleeping (this girl is seriously the Energizer Bunny!), her sensory issues, the fact that she refused to eat any solid food for almost 21 months, my feelings of personal failure… and don’t forget about all that mommy guilt!

But I hope you’ve also been able to read the many, MANY times I’ve given thanks for our a crazy, curly-haired, cutie-pie little girl. I hope you’ve read about the positive life lessons I’ve learned thanks to Nora and about my quest not to forget the big picture.

Parenting is hard work!

WAY harder than I ever thought it would be — and I honestly felt like I was preparing myself for it to be really, really hard. But it was (and is) harder and more challenging than Dave or I imagined.

Because it’s so difficult for me, I often find myself focusing on all the negative aspects of raising a child who doesn’t sleep and who is really fussy.

Yes, I’m seriously exhausted ALL the time. Yes, I almost always feel like I’m not giving 100% to my family or my career. Yes, I get sick of thinking through and planning everything so far in advance just so I can try to avoid freak-outs and melt-downs because Nora is in a strange place with strange people, strange smells, or loud noises.

And yes, it REALLY bugs me when other moms talk about how well their kids sleep or how easy-going their kids are around strangers and in strange situations.

BUT, as I’ve come to realize over the past two years, a little perspective goes a long way — especially when it comes to parenting.

The following are just a few examples from my own life of how I felt like I was getting the raw end of the deal… until I sat back, got a new perspective, and realized that my life really wasn’t so bad. (Note, some of the information below is altered for privacy reasons).

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Lots of Sleep… but so Lonely

I have a friend who does not work outside the home. She has 2 kids who BOTH take a full 3-hour nap EVERY SINGLE DAY (at the same time), they are both in bed by 7:00pm every night, and they sleep through the night until 8:00am the next morning.

Yes, you can all be jealous of her too!

She literally has 3 full hours in the middle of the day to do whatever she wants to do (she usually just takes a nap) and the whole evening to herself. She sleeps a solid 8 hours or more every night, and has at least a full hour to herself every morning before kids get up. She is always showered, fully dressed and accessorized, with full make-up and hair EVERY day.

It’s safe to say I’ve thought “what a life” many times when considering how glorious all that “alone time” must be — especially as someone who works from home, has a child who almost never naps, and hasn’t slept through the night in 2 years.

However, the thing about my friend is that she’s really lonely. Her husband works long hours, is often gone on weekends, she has almost no family in the area, and her kids’ super intense sleeping schedules make it almost impossible for her to be gone since they ALWAYS need to be home in time for naps or to get to bed.

Me on the other hand… lonely is not a word I would ever use to describe my life. Dave is home all summer, all weekend, he can be home by 3:30pm on week days if I need him to be. We have tons of family and friends that live close by and often stop by unannounced to “play with Nora” — and of course, Nora is ALWAYS awake to keep me company :)

I’m never lonely, I have so much family support, and Dave really pulls his weight when it comes to house work and parenting. I’ll take that over a full night sleep any day (remind me of this tonight at 12:30, 2:00, 3:30 and 6:00am!)

An Angel Baby… after so much Loss

Another friend of mine has a baby only a couple months younger than Nora — and he is honestly the most easy-going, super scheduled, happy-go-lucky child I’ve ever met in my life.

He never cries unless he’s actually hurt, he smiles if anyone looks at him, he’s been sleeping through the night since 6 weeks, he is happy to get carted around all over town, and he could care less who is watching him as long as you give him a little attention.

So as we started our parenting journey at almost the exact same time as these friends, Dave and I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth we were doing wrong to have SUCH a difficult baby who literally cried all day long, never slept, and screamed if mom wasn’t in her direct line of site at all moments of the day.

It was VERY frustrating (and I doubted my mothering abilities a lot) — but what I had to (and still have to) continually remind myself of is that our friends went through YEARS of infertility, several miscarriages, so much money and doctors and medical interventions… and Dave and I got pregnant without even trying.

How frustrating that must have been for them when we announced our surprise pregnancy — and they had been trying for SO long.

I think I’ll take my mischievous, high-needs, sleepless toddler over years of heartache, infertility, and loss. They deserve an “angel baby”!

A few more…

I could go on and on and on with different examples of friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, etc. with angelic children who sleep through the night every night, take nice long naps, smile all day long, and are perfectly content with all babysitters.

But there’s always more to the story — many of the moms dealt with horrible pregnancies, months of bed rest or hospitalization, miscarriages, severe labor complications (that almost resulted in their death or the baby’s death), premie babies who were hospitalized for months — some of which will have life-long complications, and even losing their precious babies soon after birth.

Meanwhile, I had a picture-perfect pregnancy with Nora and a ridiculously fast labor/delivery. No complications, no concerns, no issues at all. I brought home a super healthy baby 2 days after giving birth, and outside of a few stuffy noses, she’s been the epitome of health from the day she was born.

brand new

I have SO much to be thankful for!

Yes, I would LOVE a full night of sleep, I would LOVE a few moments of free time in the middle of the day, and I would LOVE to be able to leave Nora with a babysitter (other than family) without coming home to a frantic, snotty nosed, blood-shot-eyed, little girl.

But at the same time, when I change my perspective ever so slightly, it’s fairly obvious that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side.

What do you have to be thankful for this year? Any blessings in disguise? Any situations where a new perspective might help?

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35 comments

  1. Melissa S

    11/15/2013

    Such a good perspective. I have a daughter (she is 21 now) that has epilepsy. When she was young and I felt like I was delt an awful hand, no one else I know had to go to doctors appts, make sure their kid took their medicne, had to watch an listen everytime she was out of my site/near water. Then one day at a doctors visit I saw a mother with her child with epilepsy and cerebral palsy in a wheelchair and tubes and oxegen. I burst into tears for feeling so selfish. I thought, how selfish I am. It could have been so much worse. I was so busy in my world, with my problems, I did not realize “with perspective” just how lucky I am. Today my daughter drives (we never thought she would), she graduated high school and became a lisened cosmetologist. She lives a normal life and every day I am so Thankfull.

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  2. Miranda

    11/15/2013

    I can completely relate to you. My daughter has sensory issues with noises,smells and textures. She also did a lot of crying and at times was super clingy. I also work from home. I feel like I can “get” you. My daughter is now almost 7 and what I want to tell you is something someone once told me…it’s all a season. This really will pass. It feels like eternity in the moment though. Here’s to hoping baby #2 is happy go-lucky :)…and btw- you’re a fantastic mother!! Don’t ever doubt it!!

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    Katie R Reply:

    The angel baby story could have been written about us but I’m fairly certain you haven’t met us before, even though we live in Grandville too.
    I think that many adults are completely unaware of the toll that infertility and loss takes on a family unless they have close friends like you who have seen both sides. 
    We’re dealing with the aftermath of our second miscarriage and through it all, we are so thankful for our 14 month old who brightens each day and for my husbands great job that allows me to stay home and for my husband to work from home. Being together as a family is great!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Miranda — we should start a support group for work-at-home moms with clingy high-needs children :)

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  3. Tragic Sandwich

    11/15/2013

    This is so true. It’s easy to look at one or two visible aspects of someone’s life and feel that you’re not measuring up–but life isn’t made up of one or two visible aspects. It’s a whole package.

    Baguette and Nora don’t have the same needs, but I can relate to an awful lot of what you deal with (sleep has been challenging for three of our three and a half years together). And, like you, I wouldn’t trade my wonderful little girl for anything!

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  4. Jen

    11/15/2013

    ITA, Andrea. While there’s nothing wrong or bad about having moments of desperation or feeling defeated (normal human stuff), bringing it around to the good is healthy. Hard to do sometimes, but totally worth it. Mommy Guilt is a powerful b****, but she deserves to be smacked down by the superior Mommy Perspective every now and then. ;)

    I feel the same philosophy applies to the Mommy Wars, where some women feed off of comparing their children to others. I mean, we all do that to some degree, but you know the ones I’m talking about. If my kiddo is not yet doing “X” thing. I remind myself that everyone I know, babies and toddlers included, come custom built with their own set of talents and strengths, and that the things they do well do not have to match or exceed the things that similarly aged children are doing well. It’s better to enjoy the awesome stuff my babe brings to the table than to feel despondent about what he’s not doing yet.

    Long winded post aside, I’m just saying I agree with you. I know you’re not giving advice and are only talking about your own experience here, but I think it’s spot-on and I guarantee one of your readers will come to this post today and it will have been exactly what she (or he!) needed at that moment. I know I’ve had many of those moments, myself.

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  5. MrsD

    11/15/2013

    Ok…I was totally starting to be major jealous of your friend with the napping babies and lots of free time. But, yeah, my husband is home a lot now and I wouldn’t trade that either. He’s my best friend and I wouldn’t be able to survive this motherhood thing without him. So…..I’ll take my high needs, no-napping critters :) Thanks for the perspective, Andrea!

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  6. megan @ whatmegansmaking

    11/15/2013

    This reminds me of that old saying if we put everyone’s troubles in a bag and got to choose which ones we wanted, we would all end up choosing our own in the end anyway. Or something like that. Great post, friend. :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    You’re probably right Megan — because honestly, I would MUCH rather choose sleepless nights and a fussy baby over some of the things our other friends and family has dealt with.

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  7. Jen

    11/15/2013

    Love this! It really is all about perspective.

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  8. Kelly in Oregon

    11/15/2013

    Great post! Hopefully those moms you talk about in your post have perspective, too. I think this doesn’t just apply to parenting, but in MANY walks of life. When you look at someone who seems to have a great career – well, maybe they spend all of their time at work because their home life isn’t so good. You just never really know a person’s whole situation.

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  9. Anne

    11/15/2013

    Your parenting posts are always some of my favorites; your perspective is so helpful.

    We have an only 6 y/o child (good grief, an only child comes with so much judgment just by itself) with similar sensory/anxiety issues that morphed into behavioral issues at school and keeping perspective is so hard. People just think your child is a brat or a mama’s boy or you don’t discipline enough, he’s spoiled, etc., etc. Many people have no idea of the day-to-day challenges and the anxiety and stress it creates in us as parents.

    I read your posts and comments and appreciate there are so many people who get it. I wish those compassionate people were in my own community and were our neighbors and friends.

    Thanks for covering real life, Andrea.

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    Jen Reply:

    “We have an only 6 y/o child (good grief, an only child comes with so much judgment just by itself) with similar sensory/anxiety issues that morphed into behavioral issues at school and keeping perspective is so hard. People just think your child is a brat or a mama’s boy or you don’t discipline enough, he’s spoiled, etc., etc.”

    YES, Anne. My kids are eight years apart and it’s like people think there’s something wrong with you if you have an only for more than a year (or—*GASP*—permanently!). And ITA about people’s judgment. It’s like people think that all kids are essentially the same, and if they aren’t perfect angels at all times, you must be parenting poorly. Parenting every kid, even within the same family, is a different ballgame.

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  10. Janice

    11/15/2013

    Your perspective shows real wisdom and compassion. God bless.

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  11. Sharyn

    11/15/2013

    My children are grown now, and he and she were both quite easy.

    Just the same, I LOVE THIS POST. People can apply it to so much in life. It’s a wonderful concept to be reminded of, and to try to remember at all difficult moments, whatever the source.

    Kudos to you on this! It made my day.

    A little “aside” : I’m also reminded of something I heard recently – Sometimes the grass is greener because of all the BS over there!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I got a good chuckle out of your BS comment :)

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  12. Megan

    11/15/2013

    I’ve enjoyed the tips on your blog for awhile now and haven’t commented before. However, this was such a great post about gratitude and perspective. You gave me a lot to think about as Thanksgiving approaches. :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Megan — for the first-time comment and being a long-time reader :)

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  13. Robyn

    11/15/2013

    My 2nd child was a lot like Nora. Very demanding from the moment of birth. Lots of crying. He had some reflux that we tried to treat but he also had sensory issues, too. Day and nights blended together because he seemed to always be crying and one of us was up trying (unsuccessfully!) to comfort him.

    He just turned 7 now. Our family has been through a lot of trails in the last 2 years, and this formerly “fussy” child has been the most resilient of us all! He’s still a “Mommy’s boy” but he has truly developed into a wonderful “love to be around” child. He tells me I’m pretty (actually he uses the word “stunning”) everyday. He gives lots of hugs and kisses. When something upsetting happens, he generally just lets it roll right off his back.

    My older child was an angel as a baby. (We thought parenting was easy back then…haha!!). Now he’s my emotional one. :)

    I just hope you’re not worried that the new baby will be as fussy as Nora. You’ll be amazed at the difference and wonder how 2 kids with the same parents could create such completely different tempered kids!

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    Andrea Reply:

    aww… yes, I’ve heard that children with “high needs” and sensory issues are often super affectionate — and I’m beginning to see that with Nora now. She has to tell me she loves me and give me hugs ALLLLLL the time. It’s really sweet :) And yes, I know there’s a very good possibility our next child will be much different!

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  14. Verity

    11/15/2013

    This is a great article about perspective. We each have trials and each have blessings. Thanks for the great thoughts!

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  15. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    11/15/2013

    Well written, Andrea. There is much to be thankful for – even (and especially!) when we don’t feel like giving thanks. There have been years in my life where I struggled with being single, but now I’m married to a wonderful man. Yes, much later than expected, but he was worth the wait! Then, there were the years struggling to have a baby, but here I am 4 and a half months pregnant with our first. I am continually learning that God’s ways are not my ways, but His ways are always best. I’m giving thanks with you!

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  16. Lydia @ Five4fivemeals

    11/15/2013

    Very well-written. I am thankful for so much and this helps put things into perspective. My toddler has communication issues. But I am thankful that he is able to get the therapy he needs. My younger baby still wakes often at night to nurse and won’t sleep in his crib. But I am able to breastfeed my baby while many women struggle to do so. Perspective. Thanks, Andrea. I needed this today.

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  17. Becky

    11/15/2013

    It is amazing how God gives us our own “storms” to deal with during our journey. I have and many of the situations you talked about with infertility,pregnancy complications,preemies all mine were NICU babies,and one with sensory needs as well. These are my storms that God gave me so that I believe I can help someone he puts in my path with the same issues “which he has a few times” and I can help in a way since I can relate. These storms only make us stronger even if we can’t see it while we are in it. Your a great mother! God gave Nora to you and Dave with all her special qualities to make you the family you are.
    Thank you for this special post to put everything in to perspective.

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  18. susie

    11/15/2013

    Another nice thing about having the high need child first is that the rest will seem easy, even if they are high needs! This was nice to read!

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  19. Sue@housepretty

    11/15/2013

    I “get” what you have gone through with your daughter, Nora. In our case, we waited and prayed for 9 years and 5 months, to be exact, for a baby. The only reason I remember it is because it was the morning I found out Princess Diana had just passed away.

    When I finally got pregnant, I was nauseous for 3 full months, night and day. Then at about 7 months along, I had gestational diabetes. Let’s see, what else? Oh, she was breach, so I had to have a C-section, she was born with jaundice, and after about 1 week home, we took her to the doctor because she wouldn’t stop crying. Come to find out, she had acid reflux. She cried for pretty much 6 months straight, and only took naps for 4 months of her life. Her acid reflux made her a very whiny child. Oh, and she is a “drama queen”, and has a bad temper. Let’s not forget, she doesn’t want to go to sleep at night, and then she is horrible in the morning.

    I will, very happily, say one thing. She seems to have turned a corner, after 6 YEARS, and she is finally behaving a lot better. One of the problems, and a big problem at that, was my husband “babied” her, to no end, which made her all the more a “sooky”. I was the disciplinarian. THANKFULLY, a couple of men from a men’s group at church, told him he really had to get on the same “page” as me. Things slowly started to turn for the better when he did that. If we had to do it all over again, my husband would have been as strict with her as I was, and we would have had a much less whiny child. We have always given her a lot of love, but he put up with whiny behavior on her part, and then had the time of his life to try to break her of it.

    We both realize we are very fortunate, in that, other than the acid reflux, she was a very healthy child. We both thank God for that!

    And yes, even to this day, when I heard of people who’s child/children sleep, or slept through the night from young ages (our daughter was 8 months old), and who were “easy” babies, I want to smack them upside the head, lol!

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  20. Sandy K

    11/15/2013

    The ladies you wrote about are far and few between. I think the majority of moms don’t have the luxury of their children taking naps or going to bed at a reasonable time or getting up at a reasonable time. My daughter wishes the same would have been true for her. Her two boys now 9 and 13 didn’t take naps after the age of 2 get up about six and don’t like to go to bed. It’s a fight every night. You have many years to struggle with sleep issues. You do a great job, Nora always looks happy, at least the pictures you show us. Have a good evening!

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  21. Summer

    11/15/2013

    Amen sister! Truly the glass is either half full or half empty each and every day. We can focus on the positive or the negative… Children change you, good or bad, completely. There is no perfect and I believe they were meant to teach us all the lessons God wanted for us. If we only choose to ‘see’ them.

    My cousin and his wife just had twins Tuesday, years of trying, assistance in getting them and a very hard pregnancy. It appears something is wrong with the baby girl and it saddens me so. My children are so healthy, happy and honestly we are so incredibly blessed!!!

    Often times when I feel overwhelmed, it takes me only a moment to see the other side of the grass… nothing is perfect, but we can be at peace no matter where we are in life’s cycle. It’s refreshing how continually honest you are about your life and the ups and downs.

    I wish you and yours an amazing Thanksgiving holiday! May you continue to see the joy in the little things, especially that sweet little girl, who never sleeps, yet fills your heart in ways you never imagined. Bless you Andrea and David too!

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  22. Chrissy

    11/15/2013

    I just want to tell you that you are an amazing blogger and mother. I have two boys who do do take naps during the day and sleep through the night, but I am nowhere as organized as you are with your business and your blog. The fact that you can juggle your business and your family so well AND have a high-needs baby is absolutely amazing to me. It is so inspiring to read your blog and learn how to organize my life and learn to be a mom blogger. Thank you for giving me some perspective also.

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  23. Carle

    11/17/2013

    Needed to read this today, and most days, as I too have “Grass is Greener” syndrome! After a day of hearing my 2 year old tell me “I don’t want to!” after everything I said, I needed to step back and appreciate the wonderful day we actually spent together. Thanks and keep blogging, you’re doing an awesome job of inspiring others! :)

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  24. M@SSBD

    11/17/2013

    I appreciate this perspective, especially because my son sounds a lot like Nora. I would love to know how you manage to get anything done with her this way, though. I do my best to keep up on your posts and you’re definitely one of my “grass is greener”. Hearing our kids are nearly the same when it comes to sleeping and attention, I have to wonder what I’m doing wrong to not be able to keep up when I see your posts!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Well, keep in mind every family and situation is different. I’m hardwired to “go-go-go” ALL the time. I naturally have tons of energy and am extremely driven by my desire to be productive. This is definitely NOT always a good thing so don’t be too envious if you can’t relate :)

    Also, many days, Dave can be home by 3:30 — giving me a huge chunk of time in the afternoon to get stuff done. Finally, my sister and my dad both have really flexible schedules so they will often come and play with Nora for a couple hours one day a week so I can work.

    I am busy ALL the time — but that’s how I like it. I’m certain that many other people would be very overwhelmed with my daily schedule, but it works for me right now :)

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  25. Karimey

    11/19/2013

    I have been a loyal reader for YEARS and I have never left a comment, mainly because there is always someone else that had already asked or said what I wanted to say. But this couldn’t be said enough for this post… THANK YOU! Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your perspective. Thank you for your positivity. You are always so up-beat but this post was a breath of fresh air. Keep your head up, momma! You are everything you need to be and more!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Karimey! I appreciate your kind words — and your loyal readership :)

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  26. Elizabeth Post

    11/20/2013

    I like this post a lot. I do not think we should expect children, and toddlers none the less to act a certain way. Some sleep and others dont…some are picky eaters and some are not…we have to parent a child no matter what circumstances we have been given. I wish parents would stop comparing one childs schedule to the next and instead be thankful that you have a child to hug and kiss goodnight. We need to Learn to enjoy every moment with our little ones because they will grow up and move on and one day will not need or want our help.

    In everything give thanks!

    Thank you for the reimder…love your blog!

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