Kids bring the unexpected into your life. You have this vision, this perfectly laid plan, for your life, and they mess it all up. In the most wonderful ways, of course. Mostly.
Before the birth of my first son I envisioned exclusively breastfeeding with a look of blissful contentment on my face, endless patience, and the promise to always make my husband feel special, no matter how tired I was from kids. I would always take the time to shower and put on makeup, take pride in how I looked.
I struggled with breastfeeding as my mutinious bosoms refused to produce enough milk to nourish a 6 lb infant, so I had to supplement with formula, so I felt like a failure. What terrible mother allowed unnatural formula to pass their angel's lips, after all???? Honestly! (Man I was an idiot!) I was so exhausted patience was a struggle on the best of days, and hubbie often had to fend for himself as I was tired, hormonal, moody, and usually smelled of spit up as our boy was a happy little spitter who went through dozens of burp cloths a day. And you know what? It was fine. He thrived with a combo of breast and formula, his immune system like that of a superhero. Turns out REAL Moms let formula pass their angel's lips when that is the best option for them. Go figure. Eventually, I got to sleep and my hormones leveled out. I even got to shower most days! And hubbie survived, and so did I.
Life worked out. Not as I'd planned, but better.
Now, I'm the happy mother of 2 boys. And they are VERY boy. I have learned to adapt to shoes that never have the toes intact, and pants that always have holes in the knees. I've accepted my youngest is not capable of keeping his face clean, even 2 seconds after I've wiped it free of whatever he'd been into. He's a dirt magnet, and I'm not going to be able to change that. They inevitably choose clothes that do not match, despite the fact all items were purchased as part of an outfit. My oldest is easily frustrated. My youngest still not able to sleep all the way through the night without getting up at least once to make me accompany him to the potty. It seems it's not physically possible to pee in solitude at night, even though he requires no audience during the daytime. He's 3 1/2, I kind of thought we'd be past the nightly interruptions by now, at least as far as the norm. But we're not. And that's how it is.
I thought I knew how I would discipline my kids. I would never tolerate a smart mouth, or the word "No". I had read the books, the articles, watched my friends. I would raise respectful and polite kids. Then I had kids, and found that the same methods do not yeild the same results on different children. No nonsense tones and swift reinforcement work for one. A time out and a chance to make the right choice after a breather for the other. The cry it out method helped my oldest stop calling for us needlessly at night, and he's now the world's best sleeper. That fueled anger in his little brother, made the situation infinitely worse for everyone in the house, and had to be adapted to his brother. While fireworks could explode in my eldest's room without waking him up, you had to hold your breath in while trying to sneak out of our youngest's room as the slight air current was enough to rouse him. Seriously, military snipers and navy seals should have trained in his bedroom when he was a baby, because I promise you they have NOTHING on me.
I envisioned one, maybe two, sweet and adoring dogs growing up with my kids, devoted to them in every way. Our girl did love them, but she was vastly more independent and demanding than nurturing, and we loved her for it until she died this summer of old age and broke our hearts. And so far their requests for additional pets have been turtles, geckos, fish, snakes, hermit crabs, frogs, a praying mantis, a grasshopper and a porcupine.
We drew the line after the geckos, turtle and fish. Our 3 year old is still crying when we swear there is NO WAY Santa will be placing a pet porcupine under the tree this coming Christmas. He promises it will be a great pet, and he'll take excellent care of it.
Who the heck asks for a pet porcupine?????
Through all of this, porcupines and all, I"ve learned great life lessons. God doesn't always give you what you plan for. He always gives you what you need. My well laid plans did not bear out, but what I have is far more real, far more earned, and far more valued. My kids do not always do as they are told, they do not always say the right things, but they are good kids and we're working through it. They are a work in process, as are we. And when I'm deep in a very deep sleep in the middle of the night, I will awake suddenly to a sweet peck on my lips as one of them climb into our bed and snuggle in against us in the middle of the bed. Unexpected. Uninvited. And so cherished.
The porcupine is still not happening, though....
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