I feel when I’m talking about this parenting lark, it’s easier to focus on the negative. Like that’s what people want to hear, it’s what we find it easiest to connect to. We can see ourselves in someone elses struggle. We want to hear how hard it is, the battles others are facing. That this person isn’t coping, or that that person isn’t coping. We get together in groups and we talk about ‘this rough patch’ and ‘that rough patch’.
If it’s not a competiton to be the best off, then it’s a competition to be the worst off . . . ‘I only slept for five hours last night’ . . ‘well I’m so tired, I haven’t showered today’, . . . ‘oh really, well I only slept for three hours last night’ . . . ‘well I haven’t showered for three days, or slept in a week’ . . . ‘ha! Slept in a week, I haven’t showered for a week’ . . . ‘well I never sleep or shower, I’m a smelly vampire’. And then this lone voice pipes up saying ‘well actually, last night I had a bloody wonderful sleep and I’m clean’ and everyone swings to glare at them, ‘shut up I-got-sleep-clean-person, just sit there and be quiet!.’
This sharing of battles can be useful, yes. It feels good to vent, and it is helpful to get support and realise that you are not alone in your feelings. But what happens when the negative is all you hear? When no one says ‘this is going well for us’ or ‘this is something we have worked through and succeeded in?’ Then things start to look low.
I feel like we don’t share enough when things are going well. I’m guilty of it. Sometimes I want to, but I feel like I can’t. And that’s a bit stink – because thinking about it, the positive is something we need to share. Otherwise people get an unrealistic image of parenthood, that it’s all so bloody hard, that it will be a constant battle. It’s tears and doubt and guilt and poo explosions and they don’t realise that if they just hold on, there is a flipside. That there are days where everything is so fucking perfect you feel blessed.
Its a bit like giving birth. When you’re pregnant, hell, well before you fall pregnant, all I ever heard or saw were the negatives. In the media, in books I read, in stories from people I knew, the focus was on the pain, the fear and everything going wrong that possible could go wrong. When actually, it is very possible for birth to be an empowering uplifting experience, and maybe as a pregnant women that is what the focus should be on.
Okay sorry I’m waffling . . get back on track Em!
So I want to share with you all, some of the good things. The wins. The moments that make our hearts happy. Sometimes I feel hesitant to share what is working and what is going well for us. I worry that I will offend or upset someone who is not having such a good time. My ‘eeek this is so hard’ posts get so many more likes than my ‘hey look how great this is’ posts. But if all I ever talk about is the difficult, the hard, the ugly, then what is there to hold on to. How can you look forward to sunny days when all you hear is the sound of rain on the roof?
Parenting is not always easy – but bloody hell does it have some choice moments. It has happy moments and beautiful moments. It has moments that make you laugh, moments that make you cry tears of joy. It has moments when you heart feels like it is going to burst from love.
There are the small everyday wins, like when Ziggy stays still for a nappy change. Or when we can get him dressed after a bath with no crying or fighting. There are moments when he looks at me and just busts out a smile, like I am the best thing he has ever seen and it feels perfect. Holy shit I’m about to start crying writing this – can’t see the keyboard, can’t see the screen!
(Moment taken to compose myself and eat another biscuit).
Right now, when we look at our little boy, we feel like we are winning at life. Yes, there are rough patches, but for the most part, we are winning. Life is good and we are enjoying almost every moment we have.
I posted on Facebook a while ago that his two top teeth were digging into the top of my boob with every feed and leaving painful indents . . . well that has stopped. He’s worked out how to latch again with all these new teeth (eight of the bloody things at the moment) and he is no longer hurting me. And he rarely bites, only when he is upset, or occasionally when he falls asleep and won’t let it go. I have to thank everyone who gave me advice when we were going through this painful stage again. The best advice I got was ‘this too shall pass’ and like almost every hiccup we come across, eventually that advice holds true.
The evenings are getting better. We no longer have big fights to get him to sleep. No tears, no wails. Bedtime is something we look forward to as a family. Ziggy actually shrieks with excitement when we go to bed at night, and sits on top of the covers as we brush our teeth, alternating between giving his Teddy Jay kisses and throwing him off the bed. We spend precious time talking to him about his day, playing with him, laughing with him, and then he snuggles in for his tittie, and within minutes he’s asleep. It’s taken nearly 10 months to get here and it feels amazing.
He still wakes multiple times during the night, and his idea of ‘sleeping through’ is three or four hours at a time, but I’ve stopped caring so much. Stopped looking at the clock, stopped counting the wakeups. It’s much better for my state of mind. We bedshare, with Ziggy in the middle, and when he starts to stir, I wake, roll onto my side and get a boob in his mouth asap. Some nights I fall back to sleep before he does. We’ve even (for now) passed the crazy nipple phase, where he would unlatch and then wake himself up in a panicked state trying to fine his nipple. As soon as he is finished feeding, I rub his belly and most of the time that’s enough. I really wish I had tried this rubbing belly trick months ago, it’s amazing. Some nights I’ve even woken to go to the toilet and he’s stayed asleep, snoring away. Most mornings I wake up feeling pretty damn good. Maybe after 10 months of this broken sleep business my body has adjusted to it.
We still have the occasional rough night, or rough nights, where he wakes every hour, sometimes multiple times an hour. Nights where I want to cry. Often it seems those night coincide with a tooth breaking through, so we get out the baby crack (Weleda teething powder is our favourite thing) and we push through those night as best we can, knowing that it’s not going to last.
Mornings are one of our favourite parts the day, he wakes up in such a good mood and we spend fun time in bed, talking, playing, cuddling. During weekdays when AJ is at work I take him into the bathroom where he happily plays on the floor with his treasure basket while I shower, comb my hair and get dressed, ready to face the day. Gone are the days where he would cry in the bassinet shower so fast I’d only bother washing my face, my armpits and my groin (in that order of course). Now I can stand under the hot water, not washing anything, just enjoying it.
Some mornings, especially if the cat is in there, he plays in the lounge while I do the dishes, feed the chooks and get breakfast ready. Other mornings he doesn’t want to be left alone, so I biff him on my back in the Beco and he does the chores with me. I make a coffee and we have breakfast together. Ziggy has his egg, I have my muesli and we talk about what we are up to for the day. At the moment I’m pretty much just talking to myself like a dork, he doesn’t say too much back in response, but he busts out his toothy eggs and I’m sure that’s his way of saying ‘yep, sounds good mum.’
The other part of the day I love is when AJ gets home. Ziggy hears the door open and turns to look- then when he sees his dad, his face lights up in the biggest smile and he reaches out his arms to him. I gladly hand him over. The two of them have such a cool relationship, AJ is a wonderful dad. He takes him from me, changes his nappy, plays with him and if Ziggy gets a bit grumpy, then he puts him on his back and off they go, out to the shed or for a walk around the garden – quality man time.
One thing that helps me from ‘climbing the walls’ so to speak, is that we have a very active social life, and we have found a big part of our village. We go to Kanga twice a week. We go to space. We volunteer at the Baby Wearing meets and we attend La Leche meetings. We have friends that come over for coffee, or we visit them because they usually have better coffee. There is no time to sit at home and feel overwhelmed, because we are never at home long enough for that to happen. Are you still a stay at home mum if you are never at home?
I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and roses, oh god no. I have days where I struggle, nights where I cry and question the decisions we are making. I have moments where I feel very alone, and moments where I wonder how the hell everyone else does it. And those moments, while few and far between, are bloody powerful. They have the power to be very consuming. But then the next day comes, and Ziggy smiles at me. All of a sudden things don’t look so bad, and I remind myself that actually, we’re doing a bloody good job.
Remember that. Remember that when you have your struggles, when you have your bad nights and hard days. This too shall pass. Things will get better. You are doing a bloody good job. It might take a while, but one day our children will be grown and they will no longer need us as deeply as they need us right now. So make the most of the wins. The smiles. The positives. Find joy in the cuddles and the laughter. I feel one day I will look back on this time of Ziggys life, and it won’t be the long nights I remember, but all these cool things he is starting to do.
“Because every little thing, is gonna be alright.”
― Bob Marley