Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had. And adjusting to two kids has been rough. With my oldest turning four a month before baby sister was born, dealing with this new age further complicated the transition to two children and threw my parenting gig into a tailspin. Four isn’t tougher than three, just different. Add a newborn to the mix and a career that is always looming in the back of my mind, and it’s enough to make one mad. So when I read an article earlier this month from a mom and the one word she needs to remember, a light bulb went off in my head. Surrender. That’s it. I need to learn to surrender.
I have to constantly remind myself that the big kid is just four. JUST FOUR. As she is working through emotions and growing into her kid personality, she challenges me. And then she tells me that it makes her sad when I raise my voice at her. Gut wrenching, really. So now I surrender to her. I’m not saying I let her rule the roost, but rather I acknowledge all she’s going through and try to work with her instead of against her.
You don’t want to clean up your toys. It’s all of a sudden something you can’t possibly do by yourself. Why don’t you just pick up 5 things now and let’s do the rest in 10 minutes and I’ll help you with a few of them.
You want me to read you a book right now while I’m trying to get dinner on the table and daddy isn’t home yet. How about I make up a story and tell it to you while I’m cooking. And then why don’t you look through some books on your own and tell me about what’s going on.
You all of a sudden don’t know how to put your shoes on anymore. Bring them over here and I’ll undo the Velcro for you and tell you which shoe goes on which foot. And I’ll try to remember to stop saying, “You’re not a baby anymore. You can put your shoes on yourself,” because I get that seeing all the attention your little sister gets is kinda jolting to your ego.
You’re not going to nap today. Let’s go get ice cream instead. I could use a break too.
The big turn of events for me with this whole surrendering thing was when both the baby and my oldest decided naps were no longer on the agenda. For a week I huffed and puffed and complained and whined that I had no down time and that my children so desperately needed rest, and why, oh WHY won’t they nap anymore? I felt like they were ganging up on me somehow. But then I surrendered.
I just went with the flow and this week instead of insisting on making my preschooler go to sleep in her bed and shuffling her back in several times, I decided to go with quiet time in her room instead and it’s worked wonders. No stress for either of us and we each get a break. And then the baby decided to nap again. I think surrendering and giving up on the idea that my three-month-old HAD to nap on her own helped me to distress, regroup, and know it’s JBBB (Just Babies Being Babies).
Surrendering has ultimately let me clear my head and help my children work through whatever angst they had bottled up inside. And before I can do that, I have to work through the anxiety bottled up inside of me.
I’m going to hold tight to this word as I’m gearing to go back to work next month. As this is my second time returning to work after baby, I know that the world will not implode on me. I know it will be difficult at first as I’ll miss my girls, but I also know that working is right for me and it fulfills me in ways my children can’t. I know that figuring out the logistics and routines will be rocky at first, but I also know I’ll get into a groove sooner or later. I know that baby sister won’t suffer because I work and she won’t forget who I am. I know all of this now as I sit here thinking about how I’m returning to work next month, yet I know all the feelings will flood my mind and I’ll probably cry, but I will surrender to all of it.
I will let myself feel all the emotions and not hold it in. I will let myself fumble and not give myself a hard time. I will feel overwhelmed, but create a game plan to attack all the items on my to-do list and know that it’s OK if I can’t get to it all. I will try to do it all, yet realize I can’t and surrender as I accept help.
I’m happier since I’ve begun surrendering. And it’s rubbing off on that four-year-old too. Because the most important thing in all this mix of motherhood and career is my family, and my daughter’s happiness means to world to me.
Check out some of my other writings from this past month: