* Part 1 is written here- check it out before you read Part 2
As life goes on and the baby years are behind you, you actually fool yourself into thinking… this is getting easier, right? After all, the kid is potty trained. Well, that’s nice. Super nice… until your meal arrives at the restaurant and right as it arrives, the potty trained one will undoubtedly need to go. Half hour later, you will return to the table to cold food, and half your other kids’ food thrown on the floor or across the table. Yeah- time to eat! Can we please go out again? But, in actuality, potty trained kids are nice. It’s great! No changing yicky diapers. Sure, there will be occasional accident and you will have to change out sheets or throw out an entire mattress, rug, or parts of an outfit, but it’s still better than changing diapers every 4-5 hours right?
Here’s another fun discussion- are your kids sleep trained? Funny you should ask that because in my experience, this is where we separate those exhausted parents from those well-rested ones who should be readily shot – those perfect parents who made their kids cry it out or alternatively, those perfect kids who were born to sleep. Ugh! You will never see a TV show or movie where parents are letting their kids cry it out– wanna know why? All hollywood babies or commercial babies were just born sleeping. That’s right- they were born on a schedule and sleep 10-12 hours a night – some even 14! I have friends and relatives whose kids are great sleepers because the parents stuck to their guns or simply because the kid was born a great sleeper. I hate these people! I secretly wish quadruplets on them. In any case, my kids’ reality and therefore, mine, is that they are not sleep trained and furthermore, horrible sleepers! They need assistance every night… here is my husband and my reality every day and night – what “they” never told us about parenting or we would have thought twice:
The morning starts with one of them crying or screaming or worse, not waking up at all on time. The latter is usually the norm because they do not go to sleep at a decent hour. So, they are exhausted and of course, one of my kids needs less sleep than the other- I blame my husband’s side of the family. They seem to thrive on little to no sleep- ugh! I should have married a slouch loser who slept all day and all night. Ah well – until the next life then.
So, continuing on … my older one throws tantrums if she is not first in everything- first to brush teeth, put clothes on, get shoes on, get jacket on, and the list goes on -down to getting buckled in and taken out of the car. It’s a nightmare really. The screaming generally goes all morning (on some days) and the fun just never ends… breakfast is not really all that. And our kitchen table is still stacked up with dishes and food from the night before. The dishes are piled up all around the sink because there’s not enough room in the sink itself! Sippy cups and bottles (yes my 2 year old still drinks from a bottle) are all lined up too and soaking or stinking. Breakfast consists of cereal we put in bags for them to munch on on the way to school, hard boiled eggs cut in half (one of my kids only likes the yellow and one the white – so odd), and/or frozen waffles that pop out of my toaster. They dip it into syrup or throw them on the floor. I eat the remnants of what they do not- that is my breakfast, sometimes off the floor. After they depart for school with my hubby who carries the load of dropping them off and picking them up (bless him), I finally get a shower… This is our morning.
My husband, for most days, picks up the kids, and then brings them home. I come home late because I go in later. So, I come home, and from that moment on- it’s on! The little one wants me to hold her and if they are sick, let’s not even get started on that. I hold and kiss them and read their daily reports and see what they did in school. Then, we generally have to put together whatever we have in our fridge and/or pantry and hope for the best. The kids are horrible eaters so we just hope this will be the day they eat what momma or daddy made. It is always rewarding when they eat my home-cooked meals or my daughter screams, “I love it, I love it, I love it.” This is a rarity but when it happens, I love it too! I do not cook often because of the lack of appreciation. In any case, we will eat something or try to throw something together. The evening ends with a bath which generally goes okay but sometimes does not. After this time, that is where our night and day really begins…
The kids struggle to go to sleep because they are not sleep trained. They want to stay up with us and have fun. They want to play with each other- because they are so close in age, they are getting to the age where they just want to hang out with each other all the time even if they are fighting and beating the *!$% out of each other- ya know? They are, after all, kids! But, when you see a commercial or movie where two kids are playing together, laughing, holding hands, and hugging… keep in mind, that is one moment of reality. What they don’t show you or tell you is that two seconds later, they really could be rolling on the ground, fighting, or pulling hair, or screaming whilst doing all of the above. Yeah– fun times! What my mom says now to me when my kids are screaming or fighting or crying: You and your brother never cried. What I remember from my child as fact: We used to beat each other with sticks. So, there you have it! My own mother won’t tell me the truth about parenting, how can I expect Hollywood to portray fact?
Anyway, the sleeping part is so tough. My older one needs to hold my hair or have me hold her so she can fall asleep and often times, she will lay there for upwards of an hour not falling asleep. Meanwhile, I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet or put my computer away, or done half the things I need to do but here I am falling completely asleep next to her. Oh, and sleeping with my husband- that is completely out of the equation. We will sleep together when we die I guess- next to each other’s graves. I mean, really…. when Hollywood portrays these parents who are making out while their kids sleep soundly in the next room- that is pure fiction. Even my friends whose kids sleep through the night have rough nights – kids get sick, kids get scared, etc.,
For us , the reality is getting the kids to bed is tough, getting a good night’s rest/sleep is even tougher. My older one will sleep alone for about 4-5 hours and then realize no one is next to her. She will scream out and need someone to be with her or put her back down. This could go on all night and we play musical beds all night- we could start in Room A and end in Room C. My younger one, oh she is a special one- she will go to sleep and on good nights, sleep 4-5 hours but then may wake up at 3-4am or 530am and demand milk. What a nightmare. My husband or I have to go downstairs, warm milk and bring it back to her and then, if we’re lucky, she will go back to sleep. If we are not, we will be up with her ’til its time to get ready. Sometimes, when she goes through her reverse sleep cycles, she will still be up all night long and want to sleep all day. We believed all this would end when she started day care but it’s just not so- this is our reality. Another thing she does is make humming noises or self-soothing sounds all night long. We can hear this three rooms down the hall. It wakes up my other daughter, and here we go again!
As a married couple we wanted kids. We felt all along that we were missing something. Now, we know that we genuinely are missing some things: Sanity, sleep, and oftentimes, nutrition. But, don’t get me wrong- we love them and even one hour away from them and we miss them. But, the truth is that I wish someone had warned me more and prepared me more for what parenting really is and all its challenges instead of painting this picture of perfection and Eutopia. Because parenting couldn’t be further from those two concepts. It is a daily challenge, a daily adventure, and with its rewards and benefits, come its struggles. Only another parent can appreciate this. Only another parent can appreciate what we all go through- even those who have “perfect” children, and even the most “perfect” of parents falter sometimes. All I can say is – be happy with what you have – the good, the bad, the ugly; the fact, the fiction, the fantasy, and ….the reality. What they don’t tell you is … Parenting, amidst all of the above; well, there’s just nothing else quite like it.