Some honest parenting

I am doing some deep work on myself these days. This includes looking at my parenting and how I am choosing to parent in single moments. To date, I’ve mostly looked at my overall parenting, my collection of moments – simply meaning looking at what values I want to uplift and teach, what decisions I want to make, and what relationship I want with my kids. These are important of course, they set the trajectory for how I parent. But what I am realizing is that every moment is a decision as a parent. Every moment, I can change the trajectory based on what is in front of me. I can always choose. And, I have found it to be overwhelming when I forget this fact.

Many messages from the universe are reminding me of this today and I feel compelled to share some honest parenting talk in the hopes that it might resonate with others. To let folks know that you’re not alone in this. And to share that sometimes some honesty between parents can be healing.

Yesterday, I committed to an experiment to see if changing when I write might open up my thoughts more freely. My experiment was to wake up at five am today in order to get some quiet time to write. I usually write during the day when the baby naps, but this is when I am also distracted by the throes of life. Instead of writing, I find myself buying dog food, researching gymnastics programs, cleaning the bathroom, etc. And my gut was guiding me towards the early morning, telling me that this was a place of peace that might create an opening for more focused writing time.

So, I did it. I got up at five am. Three minutes later, the dog got up too and then proceeded to stand in front of the baby’s crib, shake her ears, and startle the baby awake.

At five am.

In our house, five am is the morning hour of no return. This means, if the baby wakes up at five am or later, it’s a rare occurrence that they go back to sleep. This morning was one of them.

My sleep training manual has told me that they should sleep at least 11 hours. That would be 5:45 am. And for context, our room is attached to the nursery. You have to walk through the nursery to enter the rest of the house. So, fingers crossed, I sat on my bed in the dark, clutching my clothes and hoping that they would go back to sleep. They didn’t. So, I listened to them fuss for nearly 45 minutes before I got up, got them, and started my day…much earlier than usual.

I was so frustrated in those 45 minutes. Mad at the dog. At myself for thinking I could get up and not wake them. For not bringing my writing stuff into the bedroom as back-up. For not just sleeping to six when they normally wake.

For 45 minutes I judged myself, told myself I was dumb, stupid, a terrible parent…what was I thinking?

All because my dog flapped her ears.

Today is day one of this change in routine and I already want to make changes to accommodate…really to feed and quiet these judgments of myself. (Picture me in bed with a headlamp, writing, at five am, holding in the pee, thirsty, hungry…all so I can not wake the baby but write).

I am so incredibly grateful that I am working with a coach who is helping me see the way through these types of moments in my life. She doesn’t intentionally coach me on parenting, but boy does she. So, I am sorting through these moments and I have so many things that have come up for me.

I wanted to jump into this morning with a new routine. Brand new. It was going to suit me, suit my family, and it was going to solve my writing needs. It was going to be grand. Parenting is grand, but it’s also messy. And this morning was one giant mess.

But I hear my coach’s voice reminding me to “just notice” instead of solving, placing blame, or tying emotion to these moments. Here is some of what I noticed –

  • I immediately felt mad that I lost the time that was for me. It was all about what I lost, a scarcity mindset, when in fact my day had just shifted.
  • I believed it was my dog’s fault. I was even considering how I was going to keep the dog quiet moving forward. This included carrying her out, or wrapping her in a blanket so she couldn’t shake until we were clear of the nursery…because this is the best decision I could make for my dog at five am…
  • It’s my fault I didn’t bring the writing materials into the room as a back-up. I should do this moving forward, just in case. Because writing while a baby screams is the peace I am so seeking.
  • All I wanted was to get up and have a cup of tea and I told myself my chance was gone. (I had tea at 6:45am instead).

The point of noticing, as recommended by my coach, is to just observe. It’s to try to see without judgment, emotion, failure or success. It’s to take stock of the evidence and put it in your pile for the experiment to review when it’s done. Noticing was like shedding for me. It was like taking each moment alone and allowing it to exist as just a moment. It was removing the shame and guilt and releasing the anger. It took me 45 minutes to see my way through this, and today I am grateful for the time I was given to sort through them. If I had not had those 45 valuable minutes, I might still be brewing. Instead, we got up, had breakfast including my tea, and I wrote during first nap. I wrote this post.

Here’s what I learned from my noticing:

  • I learned that peace is a state of mind, not a set time in my day.
  • I learned that spontaneity does not result in scarcity.
  • I learned that only I can make the spontaneity feel so personal.
  • I learned that it is untrue that I have no time to myself, and that maybe the time I spend dwelling on this makes me miss the moments that I do have.
  • I learned that my gut is full of wisdom in addition to risk. Sleep training (a book) said let them cry. My gut said if I got up, nursed them, and put them back in the crib they would have slept to 6:45.

Every moment is just a moment. When I place emotion on that moment, it becomes something else. That moment then drifts away with whatever emotion I have tagged it with. Life is also not to be “solved.” In moments where I desire a solution, perhaps it means I should just take a deep breath and listen to my gut. Parenting is a journey. And every journey is made up of a series of moments. If I focus on the moments rather than the end result, failure is not part of the discussion. For whatever reason, to me, it feels impossible to fail at a moment, because it’s just a moment.

Today I am noticing that I want to try again tomorrow, and that I am inherently more wise and in tune with my needs and my family’s needs than I give myself credit for.

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