Well there’s something I never thought I’d ever say, this parenting business really is getting easier. Now don’t get me wrong, I still question everything and there are still days you’ll find me curled up under the computer desk rocking back and forth whilst ferociously writing an adoption ad with a wine bottle firmly in my grasp, but I certainly feel more at ease at this stage of my parenting journey than I have so far.
Anyone that has followed my journey will know I haven’t been a natural at this whole mumming thing. I spent the first year googling everything, taking Chloe to multiple specialists to help ‘fix’ her (note to anyone dealing with Infant Silent Reflux – it cannot be fixed. The pain can be managed but there is no magic pill to cure it unfortunately – gee I sure found that out the hard way), I would cry most days from complete exhaustion, frustration and guilt that I was a horrible mother as I hated the thought of having to feed my child, I would compare my journey to everyone else’s and felt extreme resentment that I didn’t have the same happy baby and incredible experience they were having. But what I neglected to realise was that everyone has rough days, everyone has moments where they think they are completely failing at parenting because it’s a normal feeling for all parents at one point or another. But just know, you aren’t failing – just trust me, you’re not!
I’m ashamed to say that it took me so long to see that everyone’s journey is different and everyone experiences the ups and downs. I spent so much time feeling ripped off that I was dealt a hand that I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle. But look at us now, we made it. Not completely unscathed, but we are thriving none the less. It was unfair of me to judge and think that everything was perfect for everyone else, in hindsight we have been extremely blessed to have experienced the first year and a bit without a single hospital visit, without any serious medications, without any heartbreaking diagnosis with uncertainties for the future. We are so lucky to have a beautiful healthy child, to think about all the children out there with life changing illnesses and the challenges them and their families have to face, it just breaks my heart and makes me feel so remorseful that I have ever taken any bit of our journey for granted.
Ironically enough the one thing that the majority of parents struggle with is the one thing that we have been quite blessed with. Luckily Chloe has always been a pretty decent sleeper, if this wasn’t the case I probably would have admitted myself to the loony bin long ago. I know of countless other mamas still dealing with terrible sleepers so I am extremely grateful that this has been the easy part for us so far (touch wood! I hear the transition to toddler beds and dropping that one last heavily nap can come with a whole new set of sleep struggles). I definitely feel for all the mama’s and papa’s out there still struggling with sleep deprivation, you are fucking soldiers and I’m sending so much positivity and strength out into the universe for you (I know that may not mean much as you imagine yourself in an eternity of restful uninterrupted slumber or swimming in a pool of coffee but I really do admire your resilience and hope that you break that sleep barrier soon – stay strong troops!).
Food is definitely something I thought would be easier at this point, but at the end of the day Chloe does eat relatively well. She can be fussy but what toddler isn’t. We haven’t come across any allergies yet, she will try most things and as long as she can feed herself (rice can be tricky) then we are usually tantrum free at the dinner table now. Some things that I thought were programmed into a toddlers brain to love that Chloe will not eat include chicken nuggets, sandwiches, cheese (unless its Laughing Cow which is her ride or die and can’t say I blame her, that shit is delicious) and strawberries. Some of her favorites are pasta (girl after my own heart), watermelon (gets that from her dada) and popcorn. She will also demolish a bowl of peas – frozen or cooked. It has been a long battle for calm at the dinner table but in all honesty is was me that was making it more difficult by getting stressed and agro when Chloe wouldn’t eat something. I think my biggest bit of advice, and something that I admittedly should have listened to from my sister (sorry sis), regarding toddlers and food is not to stress – they will eat when they are hungry. If you set good eating habits and offer nutritious foods it is up to them if/when they will try it. Make it fun, be a bit silly with them but don’t panic if they don’t eat everything offered the first few times, keep trying and they soon will give it a go.
Tantrums are something I absolutely did not prepare myself for, but who can really prepare themselves for a completely unpredictable mini human tornado of emotion. I hear people use the phrase ‘terrible two’s’ a lot but Chloe started her tantrum throwing at around 11 months so I’ve either been given a faulty child or it should be re-phrased ‘terrible one/two-ish’. Apart from Silent Reflux this has definitely been the hardest part of my parenting experience so far. I would like to say it has gotten easier but I think I have just developed selective hearing and improved my ability to not give a fuck if she can’t carry 4 books, two stuffed animals, a blanket, her empty milk bottle and a dirty sock in her hands all at once. You gotta pick your battles and trying to explain to her she is trying to carry too much is just one I don’t need to face every other hour so generally I just let her have her moment. The tantrums certainly make me question my decision to have any additional children in the future but if it’s the worst thing I am dealing with in my life then it really isn’t that big of a deal. I am finding a good tight cuddle and sloppy kisses are working more and more to ease the tantrums but I don’t want to jinx it so that is all I will say about it.
In my opinion Chloe has not been the easiest child, she has always been unsettled and overly emotional and I haven’t always been as calm and understanding as I should have been in moments of chaos. But I think it is wrong of me or anyone to downplay their parenting struggles, just because they aren’t as difficult as someone else’s and the challenges we have faced may not be as intense as others it doesn’t make them any less of a challenge. Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever and possibly will ever do in my life. It is something that takes all your strength, love and patience and changes you in so many ways it is actually indescribable. There are days where I didn’t know how I would get through the day without loosing my voice from shouting and there are days where I feel so much love and pride I spontaneously cry tears of happiness throughout the day. I know there are many more hurdles for us to get over and there still will be days where I pull that draft adoption ad out to update it but it really does get easier. Enjoy the journey, every day past is a day that you can’t change so make everyday one to remember.