Parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Every phase is filled with challenges and plenty of room for us to grow. With our first child, I was the typical first-time mom. I read all the books, followed all the blogs, and wanted to do everything by the book. There was no room for mistakes; I mean, I was raising a tiny human now—every moment counted. That’s a lot of pressure!
And then we had our second child.
Everything was different from the start. The pregnancy was a challenge as we found out at our 20 week ultrasound that our baby would be born without a piece of her brain and her outcome was uncertain. Talk about putting life into perspective. This caused me to really take a step back and evaluate what was most important in parenting and what wasn’t so important.
Here’s what I came up with:
- Pinterest worthy nursery
- baby genius thanks to listening only to classical music
- letting my kid watch TV if I needed a break
Humor after the Second Child
I’ve always had a way of looking at the positives and finding a way to laugh despite the circumstances.
But nothing taught me more about how important laughter and joy are than going the remaining 15 weeks of our second pregnancy which robbed us of that joy and caused me deep sorrow.
In those weeks and in the years that have followed, filled with their own challenges and heartache, I realized in parenting, it’s important to take things as they come—day by day. It was important in our daily routine to not get too upset over the small things. Because, that’s really what they are. “Small potatoes” in the big picture of raising kids.
We all experience situations every day with our children that, if we take too seriously, will bring us to tears and make us feel like we’re failing miserably as moms. The reality is that we can use these situations to learn, grow, and laugh. As long as the situation isn’t life-threatening or someone is seriously hurt, I challenge myself to find one thing to be thankful for in that moment and one thing to laugh at.
Being Thankful and Laughing
Sure, I don’t appreciate when my kid poops in the middle of the living room…
…and by the time I realize it, it’s caked and dried onto her heels and it somehow got into her hair. What am I thankful for? That I have a tub with hot water to rinse her in. What can I laugh at? The fact that she seems totally up phased and is truly enjoying watching “The Lion King” with poop on her head.
Yeah, I’m a little mortified when my oldest tells his teacher…
“Yeah…my mom, she just forgets things a lot.” What am I thankful for? My son has the ability to speak and articulate well. What can I laugh at? That my son has no problem throwing his mom under the bus in order to save face in explaining why his purple folder isn’t in his book bag.
I’m also a little embarrassed when the youngest decides to growl at people during Mass…
…or thinks it’s a good idea to smack her head against mine, just for fun, when I tell her to stop growling. What am I thankful for? A church community who encourages me and tells me I’m doing a good job. What can I laugh at? The innocence and unpredictablity of childhood.
I’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated that I’m having to fight to keep my disabled child on the A&D waiver in Nebraska. What am I thankful for? That my daughter is alive and doing well, and that this situation has brought new friendships and allies in advocating for children with disabilities. What can I laugh at? The inside jokes I have with fellow mamas who are in this fight with me.
These are all situations where if I don’t laugh, I’m going to cry. If I take myself too seriously, I’m going to break down. I’ve learned to let go and enjoy the most in those moments. I invested in a carpet cleaner, acknowledged the fact that indeed mom-brain is real and I do forget things, and hope that as my child growls at people they’ll just smile along, enjoying in the innocence of childhood with us in that moment. And in the harder circumstance, enjoying the new friends I’ve made in an unlikely situation.
Raising children is one of the biggest responsibilities we’re blessed with as parents. Yes, we want them to be respectful, kind, and generous. The best way to each them those traits is to practice them ourselves. Speak kindly, give generously, forgive often, and leave room for grace…especially for ourselves. When we forgive ourselves for not being perfect and decide to smile and laugh a little instead, suddenly the disaster we are facing, big or small, seems a little more manageable.