Parenting is a struggle. In so many ways. Every day there are struggles. The same struggles, new struggles. Sometimes it is the tantrums, the millions of questions (hourly), the battle of wills, the messes, the laundry. The list goes on. But tonight the struggle was different for me. Tonight my 10 month old baby boy cried every time I put him in his crib. Normally at night I will nurse him, rock him for a minute or two with his paci in, and lay him down in his crib awake and he will roll around until he puts himself to sleep. But tonight he needed me. And it got me thinking about these struggles of parenthood.
I struggle with wanting my baby to learn to put himself to sleep, vs wanting him to need me. Some nights, I love that he is so comforted by me, and I can just feel his little body relax in my arms as he drifts to sleep. And on those nights it breaks my heart to feel him tense up, and hear him start to cry when I lay him down.
My practical side says to follow my routine: rock him for a couple minutes, lay him down with his paci and walk out of the room. But my sentimental side, my motherly side, says to pick up my baby! He is crying, it’s out of the norm, he needs me.
And that train of thought got me thinking about other similar struggles. My toddler is a talker. He is non stop talking from the moment he wakes up, until the moment he falls asleep. And it is everything from questions (why, why, why…) to stories of things he has seen and done, to his “future” plans of being a builder, and tower crane operator and building skyscrapers. And many days, my husband and I make eye contact across the kitchen, and just give an internal sigh. When will we get some quiet??? But what will happen when we do get that quiet? What happens when our babies grow up and we aren’t the ones they want to tell all of their thoughts to? When we can’t get more than one word answers or grunts from them? I am pretty positive we will miss these days. We will miss the constant stories, and the imagination running wild. We will miss his 3 year old attempts at negotiating dessert, and tv shows and bed times. We will miss how easily he could make his baby brother laugh and how protective he is of him around other people.
There are countless things like this in parenting that I try to remind myself of when the struggle threatens to break me. When I have answered the 300th question by 10am, I try to remember that I am helping him learn his world. He trusts me with his world and I am his most trusted source. When he refuses to go play unless I come with him, I try to remember that very soon, there will be a day when I am no longer cool. When my baby is cranky and teething, I try to remember how easily I can comfort him compared to later in life, when my hugs and kisses will be last on his list.
So often we struggle with what we should do as parents, vs what we want to do, or what our gut tells us. And tonight I realized that that is part of the beauty of parenting. We get to decide what is best for us and our kids at that moment. Each moment (however repetitive it feels) is unique. And our reactions to those moments should be the same.