I remember when we had the twins, when I first became a mama, and they were in the NICU. Every single day we had more ups and downs than you can even imagine, unless you yourself have experienced NICU life. One minute it seemed like everything was going to be fine, they were breathing well, gaining weight, and maintaining body temperature. But then the very next minute, we were being warned of all of the potential complications, and the fear of the unknown would suffocate all over again. Whenever we had a particularly hard day, I would comfort myself with the thought that things would be easier once we were all at home, together.
Once we were home, our days were just as challenging to those we spent in the NICU, if not more so. We were on our own, without the comforting support of specialists, nurses, and monitors. When they cried, there was only one of me, but two of them. When they were six months old and I found out I was pregnant with CeCe, things just became harder. I made it through my pregnancy, and was quickly faced with a new challenge: three babies under 15 months. Again, I found myself thinking that once they were all a little older, things would surely be easier.
Over the years, I have had the same though over, and over, and over. You would think I would have seen a pattern, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t say I was wishing our time away, only assuming that at some point I would reach this magical point in parenthood when things became easier. I can’t really pinpoint why I thought this would happen, but I assume it’s because when things were really tough, I would just assume that things couldn’t possibly be harder than they were right at that moment.
If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that kids are WAY harder than babies. When you think you’re about to break from lack of sleep, or you can’t take another second of crying, know that you will quickly forget all those awful moments when your preschooler or elementary aged child argues with you about playing Uno again for the 45,697th time in one day. It’s hard to be sleepless, but I will wholeheartedly argue that it is much harder to try to reason or debate with a six year old. Or to explain why something is just so to a sassy five year old.
Even though Carl and I know we have a certain way we discipline, and a certain way we DON’T discipline, it’s still hard. It’s hard to be consistent. It’s hard to know just what method to use for every individual transgression, and it’s hard to stick to your guns and not allow them to have something they love or enjoy because they lost that particular privilege. It’s hard to tell them no, they can’t have something they desperately want, because you do in fact know what is best for them. It’s hard to want to give them every, single, little thing they ever want or ask for but be unable to. And I don’t mean because you can’t afford to, but because you know that denying them once in a while is truly what is best for them.
Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve finally come to the realization that parenting will never be easy. Not now, not when they can make their own food, do their own laundry, or drive themselves to soccer practice. I worry about them just as much, if not more so, now than I did when they were little 1 pound peanuts. The responsibility of parenting is just so darn huge, isn’t it?
The neat thing about realizing that it’s never going to get easy, is that oddly enough, the hard days suddenly seem a little more tolerable. I feel like I see them as part of the parenting process, part of life, and as much as the good days are amazing, the bad days are as much a part of the journey as the rest. So even though rough days can be really, really hard (and I am more familiar with those days than I’d like to admit), I am hoping that I can learn what they want to teach me. I want to learn to roll with it, to enjoy the little rainbows in the midst of those hard days. Because I know that before long, I’ll miss those days just like I miss all of them that have gone before.