Parenting is hard. wickedly hard. Magical too, sure, full of wonder and delight and yadda yadda, but hard. Throw away the notion that every woman has a secret manual on how to be a mom and cope with the stress. There aren’t as many expectations for dads. People expect that dad will go to work, play with the kids at night and on the weekends, and generally take an assisting role in the child-raising. Women, on the other hand, are expected to know how to raise this tiny little person, care and feed them, and nurture their development while still maintaining a grip on their sanity. On top of that, the media mom culture expects that you also go back to work. One person can only handle so much.
And like any overwhelming situation, being a parent forces you to suddenly deal with any and all unresolved mental issues you had kicking around in the closet. This is where being stubborn can become a terrible fault. It’s great to have your pride, and to believe that you can overcome all adversity with the strength of your will, but trying to bullrush your way through parenting is a perfect way to get in way too deep. And if you’re in way too deep, for the love of god acknowledge it and STOP GUNNING THE ENGINE. You’re only getting stuck deeper into the mud.
A friend of ours is stuck pretty deep in the mud right now. She’s finding staying at home with a 3-year-old and a 8 month old a hard road to travel. She is the type of person who expects to fill her day with activity and she wants to have the kids follow along with her schedule. Slowly she’s realizing that you cede a lot of control and ambition when you choose to raise your kids. It’s not a bad thing, but it does mean you have to set nice, small goals for yourself. Unrealistic expectations only put you in a no-win position.
What boggles my mind and breaks my heart is that she’s just decided to run out and buy a puppy. Another creature who will demand her time and effort, another mouth to feed and pooper to clean up after. I’m saddened to see that she’s still so far away from the clarity it takes to see this is a bad idea. She said that the dog will give her more incentive to stay home with the kids instead of obsessively getting out of the house with two kids in tow every day of the week, but that’s such skewed logic. Nothing external will make staying at home with the kids easier: it’s entirely a matter of expectations and perceptions. Also, you have to make peace with the fact that during the day, the kids are the stars of the show, and your role is to interact, entertain, and support their learning process. Daytime is not about you, and that is a difficult pill for your ego to swallow.
But let’s hope for the best and do what we can to help. I’ve set up a weekly playdate for her oldest son to come here and hang with the little dude and me. It will give his mom a break, and I’ll get experience in watching the two guys. I want our house to be a welcoming place for Max’s friends, and I want to be a positive influence on them. Hopefully they don’t stage a coup and leave me tied up in the basement.