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).
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.
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?