How do you write a blog post when you have kids? Or really, how do you write a blog post when you have an Oliver and an infant Celia(though, she’s really hardly demanding at all)? On your phone, that’s the answer. You write it while you make your Oliver some tea and leave your Sweet Celia to coo and put herself to sleep in her swing. Honestly, though, the most challenging part about writing a post at this time in my life is simply collecting my thoughts. It’s amazing how one child and especially two can throw your thought processes into such chaos. Before Oliver was born and even when I didn’t stay home with him, I was…
Excuse me, Oliver just threw rocks inside the house…
…now, he’s crawling on me and giggling…
Where was I? Oh, yes, back then I was accustomed to a great deal of introspection, and I really didn’t even realize how much of a luxury that was. Now, the most reflection I get comes in spurts between spit up and time outs. Currently, I’ve had to stop writing this about seven times already… now eight… now nine, but despite not having as much as time to be introspective, I must say that there are quite a few things you learn losing yourself(in a sense) to “parentdom.”
Let me tell you about my life with Oliver and Celia, Oliver specifically. From birth, he’s been demanding and adorable, but I must say that now, more than ever, I feel the sense of a loss of freedom. Why? Because now, I’ve also lost the ability to go out into public without hassle.
It is very hard to remain calm through all of it, and it’s more than it’s worth most of the time to go anywhere alone because I know an Oliver antic is guaranteed. My outings alone with the children typically consist of their doctor’s appointments, but you can bet Oliver takes the opportunity to entertain everyone while in the waiting area through dance, comedy, and conversation. That’s the sweet side. For every bit of sweet, he is sour, but I suppose that’s his charm. He’s my sour patch kid!
It’s been called, “Threenageenrdom,” and he just turned three on December 20th.
Oliver is my wild child. We often joke about how he is a dragon bent on the destruction of his proximity, and I often tell him that he needs to be a gentle butterfly dragon, complete with stories about dragons who learn to fix things instead of break them. It is absolutely guaranteed that when we go into public Oliver will attempt to grab the attention of everyone around and greet them and tell them about himself. It’s also almost guaranteed that he will decide he needs to climb under tables at restaurants, resist holding your hand, and giggle while you explain to him exactly why pouring water out for the 50th time is a bad idea.
Conversations with Oliver often go like this:
Me: Please don’t do that, Oliver.
Oliver: But I want to.
Me: No, Oliver.
Oliver(smiling and shrugging): But yes, “p-cuz” I just want to.
He then gets into trouble for doing what he has been told not to do and spending the next 15 minutes screaming about it, because I refuse to give in and just let him skip punishment.
Me: Yes, Oliver.
Oliver(smiling as sweetly as he can): I sorry. I forgive you. I love you.
Then, he gets up and does it all again 15 minutes later. I cannot even count how many times this has happened over him pouring out water to play in(I swear, he should have been a fish), chewing up paper(he says it’s gum), or being just plain defiant. Did I also mention that he likes to do things he knows he shouldn’t while I’m nursing Celia and then come smiling hugely to tell me about it?
Oh. My. Gosh. It’s maddening.
Here’s an example of an Oliver antic. Mytra bought Oliver some large coins(the box said they’re indestructible… perfect for a toddler, right?!) for his birthday. Guess what Oliver decided to do with them? He threw what we thought was one coin down our toilet and flushed it! So, Dusty had to spend his Christmas Eve removing a coin…from our toilet! Dusty ripped out the toilet, got the dime out, put the toilet back down, and resealed it, but guess what? It STILL wouldn’t flush! Why? The penny was also stuck down the thing. So, he had to do it all over again! We had a toilet Christmas Eve…..
Really, I can’t complain. I’m fairly certain that he’s an exact copy of me as a child. I know this, if for no other reason, than because I remember doing many of the things he does and considering them completely reasonable(I never put anything in a toilet, though) and fully entertaining. They’re not reasonable. At all. I often just pray that he grows out of it all like I did. Knowing this information about my child and seeing myself so completely in his actions and personality, I know that I must attempt to model what I hope for him to one day become. I fail. A lot. I yell. I hate it. But my life is forever changed in many ways, and I want to become who I need to be to be the best parent I can be. Even though it can be taxing, I can’t say it is an adventure I will ever regret taking or the sacrifice of my convenience one I will ever regret making.
You learn that life really isn’t about you anymore when you become a parent. It’s like everything that has ever happened to you and will ever happen in your life now exists to become a story and a memory to pass onto your children. You lose your sense of “self” and every thought and action becomes centered around your family. Even when your children are with a sitter, it’s impossible not to consider how they would react to the things you’re seeing. It’s a conundrum; you desperately wish for time alone, and when you get finally it, you miss the sticky little hands that reach for you every second of every day.
Life is hard to imagine differently once those little hands have shaped it so greatly. Nothing is ever the same after you’ve met your child. It’s like they grab your heart and remold who you are with only bits of your past self and desires left over. I’m really not an emotional person, but since having my kids it’s impossible to read or hear a story about a child and not have my heart moved, because I suddenly imagine my child in his or her place. This change is probably one of the most difficult for me.
What’s really profound about parenting is the realization that God isn’t mad that your personal prayer time has become what you can get in between spit up and time outs. God understands and cherishes any and all moments with you. He just wants you, and your love for God is certainly one area that children do not damper. With their births and the moments where you see them grow, you can’t help but begin to better understand God’s love for us. His love does not come and go, despite our flaws and our moments of weakness. In the same way that we love our children even when they hurt and anger us, we do everything to better them, and we love them through their difficulties. God is the same with us, and just as he models for us how to love our children in his love for us, we are meant to model for our children how to love others.
Children will react how you react, and a large part of parenting is simply attempting to better yourself and overcoming your flaws so that your children don’t learn them from you. When you have a toddler that mimics everything you do, you see that you need God to help you grow even more. We are far from perfect, but I hope that as we journey in this life, we can figure out this parenting thing well enough to give our children childhoods they can remember fondly. I also hope that by the time we’re done raising them, we’ve managed to attain a greater level of understanding concerning our own deficiencies.
Parenting may be difficult at times, and you may feel like you’ve given every bit of yourself away, but remember that you’re more than a parent. You’re still you, and raising these crazy kids is incredibly rewarding. I believe that if we take the moments we have to reflect on God and how to grow in Him, I believe that we can become everything that our children need us to be and fulfill our need for self as well. Each day we learn something new that hopefully makes us better people and better parents. Our life is now a legacy, and what we instill in our children is what will last long after our lives end.