It’s the end of yet another exhausting day doing the single parenting thing while my husband is overseas for his job. The constant demands, playground interventions, tantrums, and all in everyday things that need to happen can be super draining. I have been thinking a lot about how I am not the parent that I dreamed of being. Recently my blog friend Hanan wrote on her blog about people not always having things together and how life on Facebook and Instagram are often far from what a persons daily existence is. That post stuck with me enough that I finally decided I wanted to write about the life behind my social media curtain.
Parenting two very young boys while my husband has been deployed for his job as an Aviation Defense Contractor has been anything but easy, and at times it felt as though I was going to completely crack under pressure. This deployment has been so much harder than anything I thought it would be. Partially because I now have two little boys to care for 24/7 without more than a few hours break here and there. Partially because my older son is at an age that involved daily limit testing, boundary pushing, and more meltdowns than I can count. Partially because my youngest son at 7 months old nurses like he is a newborn and is up at the minimum of 6 times a night. More recently because I have had issues sleeping at night again. Whatever the reason, this deployment has tested me as a mother in ways I wasn’t expecting, and made me realize that I can’t be the parent I dreamed of being.
I dreamed of being the perfect attachment parenting mom that would only feed her children organic meals, would never raise my voice – let alone yell at my child, and would settle tantrums with the perfect blend of reasoning, timeout, conversation, and hug sessions. I would wear my infant while cleaning my home, blog during naps, and spend the end of the days laughing outside while the sun set on another perfect stay at home mom day.
I would never be the mom in the class whose child was running around uncontrollably, and I certainly wouldn’t ever joke about selling my preschooler to the highest bidder for a few hours of peace and quiet. My home, while never perfect, would always be within 20 minutes of being “guest ready”, and the beds would be made daily. I would never use bribery to get good behavior.
And yet, the other day – a particularly challenging day where my son couldn’t seem to listen to save his life, split his brother’s lip open after playing and loving too aggressively, and making messes galore, I found myself at my wits end. I put my son in time out in his room for the umpteenth time picked up the phone and cried to my mother. I had progressed beyond frustrated to completely frazzled and had no idea how I was supposed to make it another 4 weeks without my husband to step in an offer relief at the end of the day.
The truth is this.
- My home is almost always 2-3 hours away from being “guest ready”, the beds are rarely made.
- My blogging is squeezed in during breakfast and after bed, because often times I need a nap or quiet time when the boys do. (Yet is is still done because I love it and need it.)
- My baby is up at all hours of the night often screaming, and my son is up at the crack of dawn with untold amounts of energy.
- K has watched more TV this deployment then I’d like. Sometimes I need just to be able to get things done and it provides 30 minutes of peace to pickup the house or even nurse the baby.
- K is at the age where he has opinions on things and he is going to let me know about them. His negotiations often turn into full blown meltdowns. The art of compromise is a lost art in his world.
- He also has seemed to lost his ability to hear me. I have yelled more this deployment than in the four years I have been a mom. (That hurts me to even type it.)
- I have yet to be on time to ONE single place or outing since my husband left, mostly because I am asking my son for the 20th time to please put on his shoes already.
In some ways that mommy meltdown really helped me to be a better parent by acknowledging I had to stop dreaming of the parent I wanted to be and start living as the parent I need to be. I have had to let go of all of my dreams of what being a parent would look like and simply hold on and pray to get through the day. Don’t get me wrong, the good times still out weigh the bad, and I would take a million bad days over never having the privilege to be my sons mom.
Being a parent is a privilege to me. While I am hoping to finish out this deployment without another massive mommy meltdown I have to start each day reminding myself that they will only be this little for so long. To hang on to the crazy ride while praying I remember to open my eyes long enough to remember how blessed I am.
I hate HATE yelling at my child, but it has happened and I can’t take those moments back. I can only hope to do better.
At the end of the day:
- My boys know they are loved.
- In between all the craziness, the baby gets worn and snuggled.
- I play an insane amount of cars and dinosaurs with my son, and we could start our own library with the amount of books we read.
- They get time and attention.
- They are insanely loved.
- The meals aren’t always organic, but they get made and are balanced.
- Bribes happen.
- Hugs are plentiful.
- There are more “I love you” s than tears.
- My house is still a mess, but it does get clean.
I am so far from the mom I thought I would be, but I am happy with the mom I am becoming. The moment my son was placed into my arms I knew that I would hold no higher job title then the title of mom. It was fine to dream about the mom I wanted to be, but the truth is no parent is perfect and it is through the experiences we are given that we become the parent we are meant to be. Don’t forget, no one’s life is what it seems like through Facebook and Instagram pictures. I know for me the pictures I share tend to be the ones that give me then energy to get through the rest of the day, put a smile on my face, and remind me how lucky I am to be a mom – even on the days I haven’t showered.
What does your REAL MOM look like?
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