My children challenge me. There, I said it. I know I’m not the first parent to feel this way, and I won’t be the last, but sometimes I see people posting or talking only about the good things, the sweet moments, and none of the blood, sweat and tears that go into an average day, and I can’t help but fall into a well of self doubt that feels impossible to climb out of.
With my kids, I ended up with 2 polar opposites. Leiana, 4, is a magnified version of myself. She’s cautious, calculated, thoughtful, silly and empathetic. She thinks before acting. Kalea, 2, is as far from my personality as genetics thought they could get away with. She’s intense, passionate, emotional, and dynamic. She acts before thinking.
They are my children because they are exactly the limits of what the universe believed I could handle. I need to start trusting the universe.
With Leiana, I see so many of the things that I have spent my life struggling with. I want to fill her with confidence and popularity and the ability to trust. I want to help her overcome her tendency to shut down when she’s not instantly great at something new. I want to teach her that being socially smart is as powerful as being book smart. I fear that she’ll be bullied or taken advantage of. I fear that she’ll be me.
With Kalea, things are different. She can turn on the crocodile tears faster than you can blink and knows it will probably result in her getting her way. Her belly laughs are what dreams are made of and her cries drive a knife straight through your heart. Her emotions are raw and (mostly) real, although it’s only a matter of time that she learns how much they can control people. Leiana will already give up her favorite seat or toy just to get Kalea to stop screaming. And that makes me angry at both of them for completely different reasons.
No one ever said parenting was easy. And parenting two is about a thousand times harder than parenting just one (someone figure out that math for me, k?).
In general, I would describe myself as a Type A Introvert. I’m awkwardly shy until I get to know someone. I like order, cleanliness, organization, predictability. I like to solve all the problems and make sure they won’t happen again. I’m the responsible one, the oldest child, the perfectionist.
These qualities do not lend themselves to raising toddlers. I often feel like my beautiful, miraculous girls bring out the worst in me, and I hate myself for it. While I don’t suffer from clinical depression or anxiety, I have days that feel like I’m falling, unable to steer our girls in a direction that helps them embrace the person they were born to be. Unable to be their true self…simply because I struggle to be perfectly compatible with it. Sometimes, my mind is so tired that I daydream about getting in a car crash. Not a big one. Not because I want to die, and never because I want any harm to come to my kids, but just because my twisted fantasy provides me with a few days of rest. (Disclaimer: I’m not delusional, I know that’s not actually how car crashes go. Don’t overthink it. I’m just tired.)
I don’t want to change the people that my kids are becoming. They are perfectly imperfect, and it’s not my job to transform them simply because I naturally try to adjust the things I feel I can’t control. Instead, I’m trying to use it as a lesson for myself. Reminding myself to step back, relax, and allow the organic growth and development that will come as they get a little older and more aware of the personalities around them. I definitely need them as much as they need me.
This isn’t a cry for help. Its simply an acknowledgment and an awareness. It’s more just a diary of feelings, honesty. I adore my life. I adore my family: my fascinatingly complicated, gorgeous daughters; my hands on, unconditionally loving husband; my family that’s nearby and wonderful and always offers to help. I know a lot of moms don’t have all this, and I don’t need a pity party. But, maybe someone else out there is struggling, and feeling like they’re the only one trying to scrape themselves together to be the best possible parent they can be. And I’m confident that I’ll look back and tell myself that, despite the long days and occasional tears, I was a damn good mom, too.