Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Parenting Is The Scariest Thing I've Ever Done

I'm feeling a bit unsettled. Addison started 1st grade today. Trying not to take it too personally that she basically could not get away from me fast enough to get into that classroom. We are talking rising at the break of dawn, dressing herself, standing next to the door waiting for her brothers to HURRY UP AND GET DRESSED. I'm a bit worried about 1st grade. Will her peers continue to be her friends even if she is sometimes a jerk to them (still working on some specific behaviors)? Will she fall so far behind academically she won't want to even try? Kindergarten was such a good experience for her- so inclusive- will this year be good too? Or is that asking for too much? Oh and her thyroid numbers are looking high. Will she be lethargic at school? Will she need medication soon? What will this look like?

Carter turns 5 this week, but misses the kindergarten cutoff by 7 hours. I was fine with this all year round until last week when I looked at him and realized how old and smart and mature and capable he seemed and panicked thinking OH MY GOSH HE NEEDS TO GO TO KINDERGARTEN NOW. This evolved into me totally embarrassing myself with a last ditch effort to get him in which spectacularly failed (apparently they are VERY strict with this cutoff) and made me think- why, WHY did I even try? I knew they were strict. Why did I do this to myself? (Yes, I do ridiculous things like this on a regular basis. I am fully aware of what a complete mess I am.) This kindergarten decision is a big deal. It pretty much sums up the parental experience of "If you choose option A- you will SCREW UP YOUR CHILD'S ENTIRE LIFE FOREVER DON'T DO IT" and "If you choose option B- you will probably SCREW UP YOUR CHILD'S ENTIRE LIFE FOREVER DON'T DO IT." Is it too late to buy a puppy instead of having kids?

Eli is in the full swing of terrible twos. Full swing. Testing everything, big tantrums, extremely sensitive to ALL THE THINGS. He was screaming in anger this morning (three hours after we dropped Addison off) and I asked him what was wrong. He answered with an indignant. "Addison HIT ME!" Um. Caught in a lie much? He saw the look on my face and amended it to "Last night. Addison hit me last night." And so you're crying now? Sounds legit.

Morgan has suddenly been off and on with her eating which has led to a bit of a mastitis/clogged duct situation which has made my week super fun. Not to mention I've been getting lots of "WOW your baby is SO CUTE!!! She must look like her Daddy!". Um. Thanks? And at her doctor appointment she weighed in at 38 percentile which -in spite of her "all healthy and looking good" bill- has me freaking out about her size. Is she too small? Is she not getting what she needs? Does she have enough rolls of fat? Should I be counting them? Did this all happen because I cut out ice cream and now she only gets skim milk? I KNEW IT.

So I am feeling unsettled. And not just because the kids locked me out of the house yesterday while I was talking to a complete stranger out on the deck. And not just because Carter shouted "It's our DADDY!" right as I opened the door for the Chinese delivery guy (embarrassed much?). And not just because our gym daycare which we just purchased a deal where "It's one cheap price for the year for as many kids as you have!!!" JUST changed the deal signage to "It's one cheap price for the year for up to 2 children per family" for everyone signing up now....a few weeks after they welcomed us aboard (I think that is what "regret" looks like in gym daycare language. At least we have the year?) And I'm not just feeling unsettled because of the way my children fell apart in the grocery store today.

No, I am unsettled because it feels like life is spinning out of control. The special needs parent worries on top of the typical kid school decision worries on top of the tantruming 2 year old worries on top of the baby growing worries. Sometimes it just seems like too much to figure out all at once.

Every decision seems monumental, impacting far into the future. Every decision feels impossible. Every parenting strategy seems flawed. Every action feels too late. Every day passed has twinges of regret of not enough done- not enough taught. Every day reminds me of the unknown ones ahead.

Parenting is the scariest thing I've ever done.

I don't say this to ask anyone to "fix this" or load me up with advice or comment as to how I must be somehow doing this wrong or specifically pinpoint an instance from the post above where you have all the answers. No. I say this just to say it. To get it out. To ground my unsettledness in just the tiniest way. To take a deep breath, laugh at the complete ridiculousness that is my life, lean into a strength far greater than my own, and then just do the next right thing as I alternate between bathing each moment in adoring love and bathing each moment in bleach spray and paper towels (ahhhh the magic of potty training!)

To remind myself of the bigger picture and how this somehow ends with me focusing just on the now.

One day at a time. One decision at a time. One breath at a time.

I have some delicious beef and broccoli simmering in the crockpot (don't let me down, Pinterest. We are on a streak!), laundry to switch from the washer to dryer, kids that will wake up soon that need to be loaded up and of course, Addison to pick up. We will play outside. There will be laughing and fighting and playing and begging for MORE snacks (because don't you know- snacks every ten minutes are mandatory to avoid starving! Apparently.) I will nurse the baby while I smile at the older kids using their imaginations as they play. We will cling tightly to these last bits of summer weather even as the brutal winter cold seems a lifetime away. We will learn to share and to play together and to be kind. We will do ALL THE THINGS and yet nothing at all.

I am putting aside the weight of these decisions and questions and parental wonderings and just doing the next right thing. I will feed them dinner. I will bathe them. I will get them dressed for bed and place a kiss on their warm foreheads and I will not yell at them when they bebop out of bed ten thousand times for questions and drinks and more questions.

I will trust in a higher power to help guide not only our decisions but the million other details that make up the lives of our children- the circumstances that surround them as they walk through life. I will look to God to order their steps and their health and their education and most importantly- their hearts. And I will find peace in his bigger plan. His ultimate decisions that trump mine every day of the week. (For example: being in a school district that would not override Carter's birthday to let him go to kindergarten this year. Taken completely out of my hands. I can make my peace with that and trust that this is good.)

Here on the home front- I will just do my best. Today's best. And I won't borrow tomorrow's potential trouble according to reliable Internet sources and the top ten "Maybe This Will Happen To Your Child" lists. (Aaron says the Internet is the worst thing to happen to me. He might have a slightly valid point.)

And I will praise the one who provided me with the tools of "my best" and put me in this specific situation to use them.

Parenting is the scariest thing I've ever done, but I don't have to do it alone. There is an inner peace to be found even in the most unsettling of days. And so I lean on that.

As I watch Addison define Down syndrome for herself and navigate her own education with all the fabulousness you can imagine. As I walk beside a very capable and strong almost-five year old boy who needs all of that energy channeled into something good. As I love on a searching little two year old who is trying so hard to be big just like his brother. As I nurture a darling 6 month old who melts into me even as she holds her head and shoulders away from me with a fierce independence so that she won't miss a thing.

And the more I lean in, I realize how thankful I am for the unsettledness. For the opportunity to lean in. To be in so deep and so beyond my own ability that I have to draw on someone greater. Someone who isn't unsettled at all.

Parenting is the scariest thing I've ever done. Maybe it's supposed to be that way. So that we don't forget for one second who sent us these beautiful children in the first place.




Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.

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